A screening of Anand Patwardhan’s documentary film ‘Ram Ke Naam’, based on the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition, was allegedly disrupted by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) at Ambedkar University Delhi Friday. Police were called to the campus as tension escalated.
The Left-wing Students’ Federation of India (SFI) had organised the screening in solidarity with students of Hyderabad Central University (HCU), who were detained for screening the documentary on campus last week.
SFI AUD unit secretary Sruti M D claimed they faced problems with the screening right from the beginning despite having sought permission. “A guard came and locked the door around 2.30 pm when the screening was to begin, and said he had been ordered by the security office not to allow anyone inside. After an argument, we were allowed in and we began the screening. Soon after, some ABVP members came in shouting slogans, and started saying how the movie hurts sentiments of Hindus,” she said.
“The Dean of Students, Pro- Vice-Chancellor were already present, and they tried to intervene, but ABVP refused to listen. After heated arguments, they finally went out and cut off electricity to our room. This happened three-four times. We were finally forced to watch it on a laptop with bluetooth speakers,” said Sruti.
She claimed that while the screening was on, ABVP activists threw tables and chairs on the door to break it open. During this time, the administration allegedly called the police.
“We somehow finished the screening despite several disruptions but could not hold a discussion like we intended to,” Sruti said.
ABVP AUD unit president Badal Prakash said they interrupted the screening because SFI did not have permission for the event and the film showed Hindus in a poor light.
“When they circulated an invite for the film yesterday, they said RSS and VHP were terrorist organisations. They have also been throwing pamphlets with Bhagwan Ram ji’s photo on the ground, and stepping on it,” he alleged.
“The film has already been stopped from being screened at HCU and Presidency College Kolkata because of its content. We only wanted them to postpone the programme till they had valid permission,” said Prakash.
Dean of Students Santosh Singh did not specify whether police were called by the administration. “There was no violence. We stopped the issue from escalating. We did not anticipate that things would go in this direction as AUD has always allowed space for expression. I think elections are around the corner and these student groups are trying to make their presence felt,” he said.