Almost two weeks after a lecture by JNU professor Nivedita Menon snowballed into a controversy over her alleged remarks about Kashmir and the Indian Army during a conference held on the Jai Narain Vyas University campus in Jodhpur, the varsity on Thursday suspended Rajshree Ranawat, an assistant professor in the English department who was a key organiser of the event. Ranawat was suspended following a decision by the university syndicate, which also formed a committee to look into the possibility of “terminating her services”, said officials. The event had triggered protests by ABVP members leading to a shutdown in the university after which the registrar had filed a police complaint against Menon over her alleged remarks.
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A three-member committee was also formed by the university to look into the matter. “The syndicate suspended Rajshree Ranawat on three grounds: she failed to appear before us despite repeated reminders, tampered with the video recording, and encouraged Nivedita Menon before her lecture,” JNVU Vice-Chancellor R P Singh told The Indian Express. “We have also formed a committee to decide if her services should be terminated. I have also written to the JNU Vice-Chancellor about the entire episode and asked him to take action against Menon,” Singh said. Ranawat said she was not perturbed by the decision and would continue the fight legally.
“It was expected since I knew they were looking to target me since day one. Everything was pre-planned. They gave me a showcause notice and filed a police complaint and then formed a fact-finding committee, which shows it was just a formality,” Ranawat told The Indian Express, denying allegations against her. “The charges are absolutely rubbish. I live all alone in Jodhpur since the rest of my family is in Jaipur, so I was really scared when the ABVP started the protests. I requested the university to ensure my safety if they wanted me to appear but they refused,” she said.
Ranawat said she would take legal recourse against the syndicate decision. “The only thing I am worried about is the impact of this controversy. It is so difficult to get the best minds to our universities but all that trouble is worth it as it allows students in small towns to get exposed to fresh ideas. But now teachers will think twice before organising such a conference,” she said. A professor at the School of International Studies at JNU, Menon had been invited earlier this month by the JNVU’s English department to deliver a lecture on the theme, ‘History Reconstrued through Literature: Nation, Identity, Culture’.
The university’s v-c had quoted Menon as saying that Kashmir was not an integral part of India and that soldiers worked for their livelihood and not the nation. Menon had denied the charges and said that an “unnecessary controversy” was created “based on rumours”. She had said the “entire controversy had been kicked up based on the account of one former professor, who is an RSS supporter”. She had later explained the contents of her lecture in a post on the website Kafila on February 4.