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Aligarh Muslim University: Lit fest cut short, students say ‘govt pressure’, varsity admin cites overcrowding

The literary festival kicked off on Friday and was being organised by AMU’s Cultural Education Centre (CEC). However, it was cancelled on the last day.

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Even as the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) Sunday announced that it would cancel the varsity’s ongoing literary festival because “the overcrowding at the venue was leading to a law and order issue”, the varsity’s students alleged that the last day of the event was cancelled because of “pressure from the government.”

The literary festival kicked off on Friday and was being organised by AMU’s Cultural Education Centre (CEC). Sabeeh Ahmad, a member of the team organising the event, said that the administration shut down the auditorium where Sunday’s events were to be held without any prior notice. “We had made all preparations, and it was suddenly shut down,” said Ahmad.

There were many voices on the campus alleging that the event was shelved due to “pressure from government” and over the “topics of discussions” lined up for Sunday. “Some of the guests invited for Sunday’s programmes have been critical of the government in the past and the university administration was being pressured by the government, which is why the event was cancelled,” said a student, who was a part of the team organising the programme. The events lined for Sunday included a lecture on “Writing amidst Lawlessness: Literature as Revolutionary Imagination” with journalists Ghazala Wahab and Saba Naqvi as panelists. Another lecture on the topic “The Rise and Fall of Modern Journalism” featuring journalists Rohit Khanna and Hartosh Singh Bal was a part of the programme.

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“The air conditioning failed and the auditoriums were packed beyond capacity. Hence, for the safety of the students, Sunday’s events were cancelled. It has nothing to do with the topics of discussion. We had to cancel the event as an incident of firing was reported near the campus,” said AMU Proctor Mohd Wasim Ali.

Professor F S Sherani, Coordinator, CEC said, “The air conditioning had failed and we couldn’t get it repaired in time. As the event was being organised after AMU was shut for so long due to Covid-19, the crowds were overwhelming. The university had to take some steps to ensure students’ safety. Four female students had fainted in the packed auditoriums on Saturday, hence, we called off the events for the day.”

“The air conditioning issue and the law and order threat claim are mere excuses to cancel the event,” said another student.

First published on: 24-05-2022 at 03:10 IST
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