After IIT Madras’ yearly edition of extramural lectures was held, a section of IIT Madras students was aghast at the subject of keynote speaker, retired army officer Major General GD Bakshi’s lecture. One among this section was Abhinav Surya, who lodged his strong protest in a letter to the IIT director. IIT Madras has responded to the letter saying the lecture did not reflect the institution's views as it was organised by a separate, unaffiliated committee.
“You may be aware that EML team decides the speakers the students want to invite. They invite people from all walks of life and with widely varying views. They do not check with the Admin on this. If the speaker is a constitutional functionary, they check my availability since there are protocol issues to be complied with.”
The institute has asked the team to see if any legal boundaries were crossed with regard to incitement to violence, as Abhinav alleged. “No public speaker, EML or otherwise, can cross these. Beyond that, it is upto the EML core to decide what is the width of the spectrum of views the students want to hear, contest, debate. You are also a student here, so please interact with them and influence their decisions on the matter."
"These are not official events of the Institute, and so do not reflect on the Institute in any manner,” the statement said.
Calling it a speech filled with hate-mongering and incitement to violence, Abhinav wrote in his letter, “I am still not able to digest the fact the institute has given a platform to such a speech filled with hatred, instigating violence among the students. A lecture that was heavily loaded with brewing enmity, inhumanity and glorification of brutality.”
Read the full letter here: Major General Bakshi delivered hate-mongering lecture, writes IIT-M student to director
Accusing Bakshi, whose lecture was held on Thursday of instilling a sense of hatred and enmity towards Pakistan and “fostering irrational jingoism”, the student quoted portions of his speech in his letter, “The level of hatred in his speech was going out of proportions when he said, and I quote, ‘In our generation, we split Pakistan into 2. Your generation should split it into 4. Only then we can live in peace!’. And later he went on to glorify nuclear weaponry and justified the usage of it.”
Also read: General GD Bakshi stands by his speech at IIT Madras, says left liberals promoting sedition
Major General GD Bakshi has also responded to TNM on these claims. Bakshi says many in the lecture hall was in solidarity with his sentiments. “99.9 percent of the crowd supported me, and 10-12 Kashmiri students and other left wing liberals formed the minority,” Drawing a similarity to the incidents at JNU he said, “They were trying to disrupt proceedings, making the same kind of tamasha. I do not respect Kashmiri students or leftist liberals – they only try to promote sedition on our campuses. I once even went to the JNU campus and tried to talk to students, promoting and spreading patriotism and nationalism in a time of treason.”
Commenting on the state of universities in the country, Bakshi responded that many were beginning to support Kashmiri separatists. Referencing the events in JNU that had sparked off tensions, he said, “Free speech is fine, but tell me one American university that has candlelight vigils supporting Osama Bin Laden? We are the only ones who celebrate this. India is not represented by JNU – which has created an impression of collapse and weakness."