By Prathamesh Mulye:
Delhi University virtually turned into a battleground last week as cops launched a crackdown on student groups protesting against the two-day Ram Janmabhoomi seminar organised by Arundhati Vashishtha Anusandhan Peeth (AVAP), a research organisation formed by late Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Singhal. Despite facing massive protest, the seminar took place. AVAP chairman and BJP leader Subramanian Swamy made a fresh bid to construct a Ram Mandir at the disputed Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. But amid the political din and high decibel protests, key questions regarding the motive of the seminar were completely drowned out.
Was the seminar held to find an amicable solution, which could be acceptable to both the entities involved in the dispute? Should a varsity provide its campus for events which are partisan in nature? Was Swamy using Delhi University as a platform to propagate political agenda? Why discuss an issue which is sub-judice?
The two-day seminar was kicked off by Subramanian Swamy by stating that “(The) construction of Ram Mandir is mandatory for the revival of our culture.” The overtone of the seminar was largely one-sided. The “leading saffron intellectuals” gathered at the event deliberated on history, facts and legal tangle of Ram Temple, but refused to dwell into the need for construction of the temple or its relevance. The protesting students and faculty members of Delhi University had questioned the rationale of the seminar, asking “in a country that is plagued by poverty, unemployment and agrarian crisis, should construction of Ram temple be a top priority?”
As the discourse at the seminar was heavily partisan, the event was largely termed as “non-academic” by demonstrating student wings. Lending credence to agitating students’ charge that two-day seminar was held to push the “saffron agenda”, former additional solicitor general of India Ashok Mehta declared at the event that, “Mandir wahi banayenge, aur Ashok Singhal ji ki ichcha ke anusar banayenge (The temple will be constructed at the disputed site and according to Ashok Singal’s wishes)”
Despite knowing that speakers at the seminar had blatantly adopted partisan attitude in the past, why did Delhi University allow an off-shoot of a political outfit to hold the event on University campus? In 2011, Subramanian Swamy had to face backlash for his “anti-Muslim” articles. Harvard University dropped two economic courses taught by Swamy after he wrote articles “demonising” Islam.
But turning a blind eye to students’ objections, University authorities refused to intervene, saying that it had nothing to do with the subject of the seminar. Authorities justified the nod, saying that AVAP had booked the venue for the event which is available to outsiders for hiring.
With authorities overlooking students’ concern, the University was dragged into the raging temple politics. After tasting success in 2G scam & National Herald case, Swamy has now set his sight on the controversial Ram temple issue. With U.P. elections slated for next year, Swamy used Delhi University as a platform to revive the bid for a Ram temple in Ayodhya.
But even as attempts are made to renew the pitch for a Ram Temple, the matter remains sub-judice. The Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case is already in the Supreme Court after the Allahabad High Court decided that the Babri mosque was built after destroying a temple. Stuck in a legal tangle, Ram Janmabhoomi issue is repeatedly revived by right-wing forces to reap political mileage and this time, the worst victim of politicking was Delhi University.
Take campus conversations to the next level. Become a YKA Campus Correspondent today! Sign up here.
You can also subscribe to the Campus Watch Newsletter, here.