Opposing the visit of Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, members of the Punjab Students Union (PSU) protested during his lecture at the auditorium of Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital in Faridkot, a constituent college of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences.
Raising slogans against Ravi Shankar and the university vice-chancellor, Dr Raj Bahadur, the students said that such “speakers are not required and welcomed in a medical college” and that the V-C was trying to “create saffron atmosphere by inviting people who promote RSS-ideology”.
PSU activists called for gherao of Ravi Shankar and raised slogans on his arrival. They also demanded the arrest of a doctor against whom a woman doctor is sitting on protest since a week, alleging sexual harassment. The students alleged that V-C has been shielding the doctor and not taking her complaint seriously.
Harvir Kaur, a student activist of PSU raised slogans against V-C and Ravi Shankar when the latter was speaking on the stage. The on duty security personnel whisked her out of the auditorium. Ravi Shankar was heard asking the security personnel to leave the girl and let her speak.
Gagan Sangrami, state secretary, PSU said, “Ravi Shankar had given a statement that government schools and colleges should be closed because they breed Naxalites. We will not tolerate such speakers in a medical university or medical college. The V-C is promoting RSS ideology and trying to saffronize the campus. On the pious soil of Faridkot where Baba Farid preached humanity, V-C is calling speakers who promote RSS and divisiveness. Instead of taking action against the doctor who has been accused of sexual harassment, the V-C is busy inviting such speakers,” said Sangrami.
Faridkot police detained nearly 50-60 protesting students. Faridkot SSP Manjit Singh Dhesi said, “We had detained some students but they were released later. No one was arrested.”
Students, however, alleged that police used force and ‘manhandled’ them.
Meanwhile, an official release from the university said, “On invitation from the University, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar arrived in town to address the university students. Speaking to the student community, Gurudev encouraged students to embrace criticism and shun prejudice. He also emphasized that there was an urgent need to stop the rising cases of suicides among students of medical colleges, for which it was critical to look at the state of mind and adapt ways to rid it of the tension and fear”.
“On the question of how to handle criticism, Gurudev said, ‘for students I would say, be ready to welcome criticism…they may criticize you because they don’t know you or are jealous of you or they are your well wisher.”