A DAY after the management of the HK Arts College in Ahmedabad declined permission to use the college auditorium for an annual function where Vadgam independent MLA Jignesh Mevani was invited as chief guest, the in-charge principal of the college, Hemantkumar Shah resigned on “moral grounds”.
Shah tendered his resignation to the Brahmchari Wadi trust, which runs the college. He said there has been no response from the trust. Hours later, the college’s in-charge vice-principal, Mohanbhai Parmar resigned too, citing similar reasons.
While Shah, currently head of the Economics department at HK Arts College, has worked for over 15 years, Parmar has been with the college for the last decade. Both were in-charge of their respective posts for the last four months.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Shah said: “I am a lover of an individual’s freedom and not acted as a principal of the college. I received a letter from the trustees at 4 pm yesterday (Sunday) cancelling permission for today’s event. The only reason given to me for declining permission to use the auditorium was that it is due to the current political situation. But I want to ask, what is that situation?”
The trust’s secretary, Ambrishbhai and a trustee Balkrishna Doshi could not be contacted for comment.
Parmar, who is also in the Economics department said, “I have also resigned along with Hemantbhai because of the same reasons.”
Shah’s resignation letter states: “It is clear that today’s political environment is strangulating the constitutional freedom and right to expression and speech and this is also getting support from the authorities. It is easily understood that the decision to not allow the use of the college auditorium for today’s function was under pressure and open threatening from student leaders from a particular political party.”
According to Shah, Mevani was invited as chief guest for the annual function because he is an alumnus and an MLA. After Shah’s resignation, Mevani said on Twitter: “Because of threat calls made by BJP goons, trustees of HK Arts college, Ahmedabad I graduated from cancelled the annual function where I was invited as chief guest. Was going to talk about life and mission of Baba saheb. Salute to Principal Hemant Shah who resigned on moral ground.”
In his letter of resignation, Shah said: “But the student leaders believed that he (Mevani) is ‘controversial, socialist and a separatist so he should not be invited to the college’. Thus they were opposing his presence in the function. ‘If he will be present in the function then we will not allow this function to happen and there will be a riot. The leaders threatened this and I believe that the trustees got scared from these and thus decided not to allow the auditorium for the function.”
Reminding trustees of the college’s past, he said that many college leaders have expressed their ideas in a very free manner at many controversial political and social events and when necessary they have supported people in public against different governments and led agitations too.
“In fact, the trustees should have told me that go ahead with this event without any hesitation and we will be present in this event and take responsibility. Instead, the trustees decided to kill their freedom by their own hands under political pressure making it an embarrassing, painful and shameful.”
According to Shah, he had accepted the post of principal on the “insistence” of trustees Balkrishna Doshi and Kumarpal Desai (both Padmashree awardees) and Jnanpith awardee Raghuveer Chaudhary. “When I had accepted the post of principal on the request of the trustees I believed that such dignified trustees in the society will certainly support me in working without fear but I am very sad at the fact that my hope has been crashed,” he said.
When contacted, a relative of Chaudhary’s said that “he is not well and been taken to a hospital for some tests”.