A discussion on a research paper titled ‘Military Occupation in Kashmir: Sexual Violence on Kashmiri Women’, which was scheduled to take place during a one-day seminar organised by the Dr Ambedkar Centre for Social Justice in Mumbai was cancelled at the last moment.
The centre, which is affiliated to the University of Mumbai, had organised a national seminar on disparity, discrimination, and deprivation and the
idea of social justice in the Mumbai university campus on Wednesday.
According to seminar’s itinerary, Lalita T, a student with the Mumbai University’s Department of Civics and Politics, was originally scheduled to present her research paper during a hour-and-a-half session on ‘Citizenship and Issues of Minorities’ in the evening. But the organisers said the she did not show up for the event.
Earlier in the day, there was high drama surrounding the seminar and the research paper. Acting on a demand raised by a ruling Bharatiya Janata Party legislator, Maharashtra’s Education Minister Vinod Tawde announced in the Legislative Assembly that the state government would approach Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao to step in to ensure the discussion did not take place.
He further said that the Governor would also be requested to direct the Vice Chancellor to hold an inquiry into the matter. BJP MLA Atul Bhatkalkar had earlier raised a ‘point of information’ objecting to the research paper in the legislative assembly, even terming it as an act of ‘anti-nationals.’
“Kashmir belongs to India, and the military is there to safeguard the country’s interest,” while objecting to the discussion on the research paper. Bhatkalkar further sought cancellation of discussion.
Echoing Bhatkalkar’s view, Tawde said, “The Mumbai University has its own autonomy. The centre, affiliated to it, exists as an independent body. So when the legislature or the government object to such acts, questions are raised on whether this is an infringement to the freedom of speech.
But when such discussions are held, it is a matter of concern.
The state government will request the Governor’s office to look into it, and urge him to direct the Vice Chancellors to even take action against