ABVP's next target, Pondicherry Uni: Wants students suspended for 'anti-national' magazine

The University has banned the distribution of the magazine and sealed the student council office
ABVP's next target, Pondicherry Uni: Wants students suspended for 'anti-national' magazine
ABVP's next target, Pondicherry Uni: Wants students suspended for 'anti-national' magazine

Amidst the tensions in Pondicherry University’s campus, cases have been filed against ABVP members protesting the student council’s publication of an anti-national magazine. 

All of this began on Monday evening, when BJP member Swaminathan along with 100 others held a protest in public glare where copies of “Wider Stand” were burnt. With protests on Monday and threats of more protests in the future, the university has clamped down on the magazine, banning its distribution.

 “We have banned distributing the magazine and we have sealed the student council office,” the Assistant Registrar said. On Tuesday, student council members, largely constituting of SFI members, found the council room which housed copies of the journal, sealed.  

The SFI along with the Student Council held a press meet on Tuesday morning to clarify their stance on the issue. “The magazine is going to stay how it is,” says Perumal, member of Tamil Nadu CPI(M) State Committee. “Half of the students who were behind the magazine have passed out, so they can really do nothing to us. If we have caused a stir, so be it.” Participants of a march organised by the University Students Council in support of the magazine were allegedly attacked by a 300 strong group of students on the campus.

According to students, they began the march in front of the “Amudham” mess where a group of about 15 students arrived on a bike, stopped them and asked them not to organise the programme.

“We were organising it peacefully and while we were explaining it, a 300 strength mob started to attack us, including student council members who were beaten up, even women students,” said Anand, an SFI member.

At the same time, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) staged a protest in front of the Students Welfare Dean’s office demanding an official ban on the magazine which contains ‘anti national’ content, the dismissal of members of the student council and the removal of the present Vice Chancellor.

The student council members have also sent the police names of members of the mob that had threatened and beaten up student council members, but no action has been taken yet. Lieutenant General Kiran Bedi had met with the VC on Thursday night, details of which are yet to be made public.

What’s ‘anti-national’ about the magazine?

In the journal, an article pledged active support on behalf of the varsity students for student movements in JNU, IIT Madras, FTII and Hyderabad university. There was also a page dedicated in memoriam of HCU student Rohith Vemula, three girl students from the Villupuram SVS college and Ajith Kumar, a Dalit engineering student from St Joseph’s College in Kanchipuram, calling them “victims of institutional murders.”

The articles also protested against the government’s stand on various student movements.  ABVP students of the varsity have also termed the titles of some articles objectionable. “Turning into saffronised concentration camps”, “#OccupyUGC”, “Era of Indian resistance”, “A country without free speech” and “The diary of a protester” were the titles of some of the articles. Though the magazines were meant to be distributed only inside the campus, the BJP has called them provocative. BJP member Swaminathan said, “If it is in a university student’s hands today, what will we be tomorrow?”

“It is disgraceful that a university allowed such a magazine to be published. Saffronisation of the country? They have written ill of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The magazine is full of anti-national slogans,” says Swaminathan, the member of the BJP who hosted the first protest.

ABVP members have denied disbanding a peaceful march organized by the student council. “But we do protest the tone of the magazine, and will hold further protests until it is banned. The Student council shouldn’t stand for a particular ideology. Why is it that only what the SFI has to say, what the communists have to say is representational of the entire college? The VC has allowed 3.5 lakh rupees of government money to fund a publication that showcases active resistance against the government and the MHRD,” says Siva, president of the ABVP group in the university. 

He adds, “They have mentioned BJP, ABVP and Hindutva ideology,” and points to a specific article published in the magazine – “An open letter to Mr. Adam”. His contention? “There are unparliamentary words in the magazine that are against the culture of our nation,” he says. Siva finally clarifies, “We are not BJP connected, we are simply ABVP.”

SFI is of the belief that the hate-mongering starts and ends with the ABVP and BJP. “With a strength of just 10 members ABVP has used their power and clout to rally against us and refuses to own up to it. Their problem is that we write ‘Laal Salaam’ instead of ‘Jai Hind’. They looked at our cover of a woman in a hijab hanging grenades with flowers to dry – and call us active supporters of IS ideology. We are ready for a discussion,” asserts Anand, an SFI representative, adding “ABVP has never been an active organizer of open debates, just one fresher’s party. How can they suddenly have a say in what goes about in the student’s council and what doesn’t?” 

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