A DAY after the clashes at Delhi University, the street theatre festival at SGTB Khalsa College was “postponed” on Thursday, allegedly because the ABVP-led Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) issued “repeated threats” over the “anti-national themes” of some of the plays. Saikat Ghosh, staff advisor of the theatre society at Khalsa College, said the programme was cancelled “under duress”.
“The competition had to be cancelled after repeated threats from DUSU. The police also appealed to us to call off the event in the interest of restoring peace and normalcy on the campus. We had no other option, but we condemn the incident. DUSU claimed some of the plays (from different colleges) which were supposed to be staged had anti-national themes,” said Ghosh.
When contacted, DUSU president Amit Tanwar claimed the college principal, Jaswinder Singh, called him up on Thursday morning and asked if it was a good idea to hold the festival. “I told him that if the plays contained anti-national themes, the competition should be cancelled. We did not threaten anyone. The principal decided to cancel the event,” said Tanwar.
But the college principal said the festival was not cancelled, and he had not read the scripts of the plays. “The programme has not been cancelled, it has only been postponed. There is no question of it being cancelled because of an anti-national theme, as I have not gone through any script. We will hold the competition at a later date, when the environment is more peaceful,” said Singh.
This is not the first time that Khalsa College has been forced to cancel a theatre performance following threats. In 2015, the college had to cancel the staging of a play called ‘Welcome to the Machine’, which was based on communal riots and polarisation. “The DUSU members called the play anti-Hindu, though it was completely inaccurate,” said Ghosh.
Meanwhile, the campus remained peaceful on Thursday amid the heavy deployment of police personnel. Classes were suspended for half-a-day because of the university flower show. University authorities expect the situation to return to normal next week, as Friday is a holiday and many colleges don’t have classes on Saturday.
The clashes on Wednesday took place a day after Ramjas College authorities withdrew an invitation to JNU students Umar Khalid, who was booked for sedition last year, and Shehla Rashid to address a seminar on Culture of Protests. The RSS-affiliated ABVP members had clashed with students and teachers at the college, objecting to the invitation to the two JNU students. The Left-wing AISA protested and demanded an FIR against the ABVP members for alleged vandalism.