The Srishti Institute of Art Design and Technology in Bengaluru has decided to remain shut for two days following an alleged threat to students and security personnel of the college over graffiti against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The college management has declared holidays citing a “potential risk” to students and staff of the institute located in Yelahanka New Town in the city. According to an email sent to the students by the executive administrator, no classes will be held on Thursday and Friday.
Tension prevailed for hours in the institute Tuesday after BJP workers allegedly “heckled and threatened” students for a graffiti on PM Modi with the caption “Sab Changa Si (everything is fine)” on the walls opposite the college.
“We understand that these are difficult times and we will all walk and talk about the issues before us together,” the email sent to the students reads.
Narrating the incident, a third-year design student at the institute told indianexpress.com that around 10 men led by local BJP MLA S R Vishwanath reached the campus around 11.30 am Tuesday.
“The political leaders who came with the MLA, accompanied by some residents from the neighbourhood started threatening the security to let them in saying they wanted to discuss the graffiti that appeared on the wall opposite N5 campus. Even though they appeared confused on who did it, they raised voices against the students and the institution,” the student said.
“By then, most vehicles parked outside the campus were towed away by the traffic police. Even as some students realised their vehicles were among those, some from the group who were already present outside started saying it was against Indian culture to wear short clothes and to smoke on the roads,” the student added.
In a statement released by the students of the institute, MLA S R Vishwanath is said to have “stormed the main gate” of the institute’s N5 campus. Quoting the BJP MLA, the statement mentions him saying, “If we wanted to be aggressive, we could have and they would not have withstood us.”
Clarifying the parking issue, students added that the street had been used for parking by Srishti students, faculty, and local civilians for years. “When students and faculty asked them to provide an explanation of what was going on, they demanded to rough up vehicles and initially refused to engage with us in any capactiy,” the students stated.
Raghavendra, a resident of the area had on Tuesday filed a complaint on the BBMP Sahaya application. According to the complaint lodged at 10.30 am, students who parked their vehicles on the footpath outside the campus created inconvenience for the residents of Yelahanka New Town Phase 5. The issue of graffiti was also mentioned.
Local corporator Satish M was soon apprised of the pictures via the application after which he arrived at the spot. He said that the primary issue was of students parking vehicles on the footpath troubling pedestrians along four roads surrounding the campus.
“However, the graffiti on the PM was offensive to many including party workers and hence was covered using paint. There have been recurring complaints from the residents of the areas that the students sit outside on footpaths at night to drink and smoke. Some even raised the issue of the way they dressed but I feel it is their personal choice,” he said.
Yelahanka BJP MLA S R Vishwanath further alleged that multiple complaints were raised on graffiti work done by students of the institute. “The concern was raised and the college has been warned after we saw anti-Modi paintings. Let the students not vandalise public property and instead protest with police permission,” he said.
However, another student added, “The management of the college has always been supportive of students being active on public affairs matters. In-house discussions on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and National Register of Citizens (NRC) have been planned roping in legal professionals to give us detailed perspectives but no opinion has been enforced on us ever.”
Students added that the management met them on Tuesday asking them to follow a dress code and to avoid being late at night.
“The students have been advised not to gather in public. They were also reminded not to flout laws regarding parking and smoking to avoid any untoward incident with residents or local politicians,” a faculty member said.
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