Monday came as a grim reminder of 2017 for many Delhi University students and guests who had arrived on the campus for the formal launch of the magazine ‘DYouth’ scheduled to be released during an event titled “Dialogue on Freedom of Expression.” After members of ABVP had disrupted the seminar ‘Culture of Protests’ in Ramjas College on February 22 last year, Delhi University had officially and unofficially cancelled a number of events.
Following the same pattern, DU administration on Monday cancelled the said event despite allowing it in the first place. While the editorial board of ‘DYouth’ claims that it has no affiliation to any organised student groups on campus, according to a report, they had managed to get the financial backing of DUSU for the event. The hall in which the event was supposed to take place had been booked by the vice-president of the Delhi University Students Union. The magazine was finally released on the road outside the Faculty of Arts.
Even though the magazine contains articles and essays by a wide range of writers from various political parties, it seems the bone of contention turned out to be the inclusion of a congratulatory letter by Rocky Tuseed, president of DUSU, whose disqualification was upheld by a single-judge order earlier in July this year, which was later stayed by the Delhi High Court. However, in The Wire report, the editors of the magazine contend that Tuseed was sitting president when the magazine was printed.
Keeping aside the inclusion of the congratulatory letter by Tuseed, the event was about a larger issue and denying it space at the last moment did not go well with students, academics, and activists alike.
Ruchi Gupta, Joint Secretary AICC, who also spoke at the “event” later held on the road, took to Twitter to clear the allegations levelled against Tuseed, asserting that “DU (is) acting at behest of ABVP to harass Rocky and subvert democratic process in which NSUI won fair and square.”
Nandini Sundar, a professor of Sociology at DSE, tagged Arun Jaitley in her tweet demanding to know from the “ex DU student” what he has “to say to throttling of freedom of expression of DUSU and DU student journalists.” In another tweet she compared the denial of space for the event to “emergency era measures.”
Rajeev Gowda, MP in the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka, vowed to “fight back against BJP’s attempts at curbing liberty” while announcing that he had also been invited to speak at the event.
While tweeting from their official Twitter handle, NSUI described the magazine as an “NSUI-led DUSU magazine” before blaming DU of cancelling the “permission for launch event at last minute under pressure from ABVP.”