Under pressure from right-wing organisations, Modern College of Arts Science and Commerce called off a lecture on Gandhian thoughts that was scheduled to be delivered by Tushar Gandhi, great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, at a national seminar on Friday.
In his tweet, Tushar said “Modern College Pune was forced to cancel a program scheduled for tomorrow celebrating the 150th anniversary of Bapu because they invited me, Patitpavan Sanstha threatened to disrupt the program if I was present. The Goli Maro Gang in Action.”
Modern College Pune was forced to cancel a program scheduled for tomorrow celebrating the 150th anniversary of Bapu because they invited me, Patitpavan Sanstha threatened to disrupt the program if I was present. The Goli Maro Gang in Action.
— Tushar (@TusharG) February 6, 2020
College authorities, meanwhile, claimed they received letters from several organisations but said they had warned of “peaceful protests”. However, due to the ongoing practical examinations and over a 1000 students on campus, whose evacuation would pose a challenge if any violence broke out, they decided to call off the lecture.
“On Tuesday afternoon, a few students approached principal Sanjay Kharat and showed a few video clips of Tushar. They claimed that his speeches are politically inclined and could incite harsh sentiment in the view of the current anti-CAA, NRC scenario. Since the seminar was organised with SPPU funds under QIP, they objected saying university funds should not be used for events with political flavour. At the same time, the same organisations and students approached the pro Vice-Chancellor who also advised the college principal to proceed with caution and beware of untoward incidents,” said Gajanan Ekbote, chairman of Progressive Education Society which runs Modern College.
Ekbote added that he had spoken to Tushar and assured him the college would hold the same lecture within a week at its auditorium in Shivaji Nagar using college funds.
Under the Quality Improvement Program of the Savitribai Phule Pune University, a national seminar — ‘Revisiting Gandhi’ was organised at Shivaji Nagar’s Modern College of Arts Science and Commerce on February 7 and 8. Tushar was invited as a guest where he was supposed to deliver a lecture.
However, late evening on February 6, the invitation to Tushar was withdrawn and his lecture was cancelled as few right-wing and student organisations including Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad objected to the event.
The college had received Rs 2.5 lakh under QIP to organise the seminar.
While college authorities claimed to receive advice from SPPU pro V-C on the lecture, the latter flatly denied the claims. “I was at Mumbai University on Thursday and no student organisations met me. QIP funds are given to all selected colleges and it is them who decide the subject of seminar and speakers. We have a committee which scrutinises event but we have not given any advice to them,” said N S Umrani, pro VC, SPPU.
Meanwhile, the national seminar took off as planned on February 7.
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