The BJP in Kerala has petitioned Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, seeking withdrawal of Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy’s ‘Come September’ speech of 2002 from Calicut University’s textbook for the BA English course.
In a letter to the Governor, who is the Chancellor of the university, state BJP president K Surendran said the essay questioned the sovereignty and integrity of the country. “Dissent is brewing among academics and the general public against the inclusion of this speech, which is anti-national. Roy has stated that India has unleashed terror on the non-violent struggle for the independence of Kashmir. She was introduced by textbook editors Murugan Babu and Abida Farooqi as the sane voice who spoke against the hanging of Afzal Guru. The hanging was termed as a dark chapter in the history of the country,” he wrote.
Surendran said that Roy in her speech alleged that Hindus are fascists. “The text of the speech should be removed from the syllabus.”
The speech is included in the textbook ‘Appreciating Prose’, meant for the third semester of BA English Language and Literature. The syllabus was implemented last year and the text is slated to be taught in the ongoing third semester.
Dr Abida Farooqi, chairperson for the university board of studies, said the speech was recommended by a 10-member committee last year and attested by the Academic Council before being included in the syllabus. “The speech had appeared in periodicals. So far, none has raised any allegation against it. In the textbook committee also, nobody objected to its inclusion,” she said.
Calicut University Registrar Dr C L Joshi said no decision has been taken, and the Academic Council would take a decision after going through the issue. “We cannot say whether colleges have unofficially decided not to teach that speech,” he added.