Puducherry Students’ Magazine Row : Detailed report forwarded to HRD Ministry

Saffron, it seems, has become the color of controversy and refuses to elude BJP, its flag bearer, which has once more found itself in the midst of it. The latest row relates to controversial material published in the students’ magazine of Pondicherry Central University.

According to sources, the student magazine had published a range of articles on sensitive issues like labeling the suicide of Rohith Vemula, the Hyderabad Central University student as institutional murder, opposing sedition cases against student leaders in JNU as a clampdown on freedom of speech and expression, and attempts to saffronise the education. Another article by a History student mocks at National Film Jury asking “Whether the exercise by the jury was merely to distribute them (awards) among those who you think won’t return the awards as many of our eminent writers did?”

The alleged material was published in the annual magazine, ‘Widerstand’, German for resistance, which was brought by the Student’s Council in a function presided over by the Vice-Chancellor Anisha Basheer Khan. The magazine contained several materials which were critical of the present central government. The university issued a statement immediately after the controversy erupted and said claiming, “The views expressed by the authors in the article are theirs and the university administration has absolutely no role in the same.” This resulted in protest by Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and BJP in the form of burning of college magazines.

In order to stem down the protest, the University, in a desperate move, stopped the circulation and locked down 4000 copies in locker room, a move which backfired as SFI and ASI protested over clamping on freedom of speech.

The university also went so far as to sack the professor and dean of Student Welfare, P Moorthy, for failing to verify the contents of the magazine.

This move too saw protest by Student Federation of India (SFI) and Ambedkar Students Association (ASI) who organized a rally demanding the reinstatement of Prof. Moorthy on Monday.

According to G. Anjali, Student Editor, “Contents of the magazine were mostly republished material drawn from various publications whether relating to the unrest in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Hyderabad Central University or Saffronisation of Education.”

On the other hand, the leaders of ABVP alleged that the Students Council responsible for the controversial material was partial towards the materials relating to leftist ideology and had rejected almost 6 articles which had panned them, which in itself is violative of freedom of speech.

The Lt. governor of Puducherry Kiran Bedi was briefed on the matter by the VC after she had asked for a report on the matter and a detailed report had been forwarded to the Union Human Resource Department ministry.

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