At IIT Madras’ yearly edition of extramural lectures, a section of IIT Madras students were 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.
Calling it a speech filled with hate-mongering and incitement to violence, Abhinav wrote, “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.”
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.”
Abhinav also accused the retired army officer of insulting and mocking India’s freedom movement. He claimed that according to Bakshi, “only Indians in Indian army got us freedom and whatever everyone else was doing in the name of 'Ahimsa' was nonsense!”
The student went on to say that IIT Madras giving him a platform to voice his comments on the freedom movement in the name of “Special Independence Day Lecture” would shame the institution. He concluded his letter to the IIT Madras Director hoping that necessary action would be taken.
"At this point, I may be brushed aside as a person with certain political affiliations who cannot tolerate contesting views. But let me make it clear that I have not been so seriously concerned in the past about several other lectures with contents contesting my views. But this is not a mere speech with contesting views, but a dangerous hate speech," he concluded.
Speaking to TNM, Abhinav said, “An instance of distorting history is when he said Dehradun was originally called Dehradrone, as Dronacharya’s camp was set there. In its spot the Indian Military Academy has come up,” Abhinav said.
He also said the justification of using pellet guns in Kashmir instigated many students to interrupt the retired army officer and register their protest, but according to Abhinav, the crowd that did support him became violent, ordering many in disagreement to leave the hall.
Over the past two years, Abhinav says many personalities holding fundamentalist views have been invited. “Many of the faculty members support and encourage this. They are definitely responsible and many of them hold the same views as General Bakshi. According to him, India’s real independence arrived in 2014, when Narendra Modi was declared Prime Minister. “IIT Madras hosts people with multiple views, but I particularly think there is an intellectual RSS shakha (RSS ideology school) happening that we need to put an end to,” he says.
This is not the first time a section of students has protested against IIT Madras’ indirect adoption of Hindu fundamentalist ideology through conferences and events. The Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle previously raised their voices against the Indology conference hosted by right-wing Indology professor Rajiv Malhotra.
General Bakshi reacts: