Protests over the Centre’s move to take down links of BBC’s documentary ‘India: The Modi Question’ have spread across the country with students from different universities, including Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi and Hyderabad University among others, even screening it. Recently, a section of students of Madras University, led by the Students Federation of India, also organised such a screening of the documentary.
Speaking with indianexpress.com, Arun, the district president of SFI’s Central Chennai unit, said, “We regularly organise sessions with Madras University students. We hold discussions on various topics, and conduct movie reviews and book reviews too. We planned the screening as part of such a session and put up banners for the same. However, the management of the university asked us not to screen the documentary. We even got messages from the professors of departments asking us to avoid the screening. Finally, we used laptops to watch the film three days ago.”
A few of the students were also pulled up by the professors for attending the screening, Arun stated, while adding that the administration also took away the laptops during the session. “They asked us to seek permission for the same by submitting a letter, but we didn’t,” Arun added. He further said that the screening will take place across the state in different campuses.
Meanwhile, the Community Party of India (Marxist) CPI(M), too, has been actively involved in screening of the documentary.
CPI(M) Chennai district secretary G Selva said, “We began the screening of the series at public places on Republic Day. Our first screening was at Anna Nagar near the Ambedkar Statue. During the screening, the division 98 Chennai corporation councilor A Priyadharshini, who is the youngest councilor, was arrested for participating in the session. Though she was later released, why should we seek police permission for screening a documentary? It our right.”
Selva added that the documentary is being screened on a daily basis at various places across the city. “We had a session at Villivakkam, Madras University, Presidency college and plan to continue at other places too, including Coimbatore, Madurai and Trichy.”
In Madurai, attempts to screen the series were thwarted after the police denied permission. S Karthick, state president of Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), said, “When we tried to screen the film at Jaihind Puram in Madurai, we were asked to take permission and when we did, they did not grant it. They cite reasons like we can’t allow the screening in public places. However, when we tried to screen it in our homes, the police asked us to avoid it. In Chengalpet and Perambalur districts, our functionaries were put under house arrest as a precautionary measure so that the screening does not take place.”
Selva also said that after the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) granted permission, a protest was staged at Valluvar Kottam on Sunday against the taking down of the documentary.
Meanwhile, the DMK-run Tamil Nadu government, too, on Sunday said that it is all set to take on the BJP-led Centre in the Parliament’s Budget session over the documentary. DMK chief and Chief Minister M K Stalin chaired a meeting with the MPs in Chennai and urged them to hold debates over the documentary in the Parliament.