The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), linked to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), burned a portrait of Nathuram Godse in Kerala on February 5 after carrying out a protest march. The protest was against National Institute of Technology (NIT) Calicut professor Shaija Andaval for her Facebook comment praising Godse.
Godse, who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi on January 30, 1948, was a member of Hindu Mahasabha affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Following Gandhi’s death, RSS was banned for a brief period.
Several other student organisations– Students’ Federation of India (SFI) linked to the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Congress’ Kerala Student Union (KSU), Muslim Students Federation (MSF) linked to the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) – have filed complaints against the professor.
SFI Area Secretary Vishak and MSF District General Secretary Swahib Muhammad filed complaints in Kunnamangalam police station. KSU District President Sooraj filed a complaint in Nadakkavu police station. Further, Congress MP from Kozhikode MK Raghavan has demanded the university to take action against Shaija. Kunnamangalam police had registered a case under section 153 of IPC against Shaija for wantonly giving provocation with the intent to cause a riot.
Shaija, a professor of the Mechanical Engineering department, made the Facebook comment on January 30, the anniversary of Gandhi’s assassination. She commented, ‘Proud of Godse for saving India’ under a post put out by an advocate named Krishna Raj, who is known for constantly taking a Hindutva stance. She had deleted the comment after facing backlash.
Speaking to TNM, Shaija said, “I didn’t put much thought into it when I first commented. I had read the book ‘Why I Killed Gandhi’ and felt that some of the points mentioned in it were true. Hence, I made the comment. But now, I feel I shouldn’t have and hence I deleted the comment”.
Kerala’s Higher Education minister R Bindu also condemned the professor's comment and said that it was an ungrateful act towards Mahatma Gandhi by praising the one who assassinated him. She added that teachers are supposed to inculcate the right sense of patriotism and sense of history in the students. The minister also added that the professor’s comment was sending the wrong message.