A screening of Anand Patwardhan’s 1992-documentary Ram Ke Naam (In the name of God) by students of the KR Narayanan National Institute of Visual Science & Arts (KRNNIVSA) outside the college campus in Kerala’s Kottayam district on January 22 was blocked, allegedly, by members of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The screening, which was organised as a mark of protest against the inauguration of the Ayodhya Ram temple, was later carried out inside the college premises after a delay of one hour.
A video posted on the official Instagram page of KR Narayanan National Institute of Visual Science and Arts Students’ body shows people verbally abusing the students in the presence of police personnel. The students said due permission was taken by them to conduct the screening.
Speaking to the media, Students’ Council Chairman Sreedevan Perumal said film institute students had maintained calm and that they just wanted to remind everyone that there was a Babri Masjid in Ayodhya before it was demolished. “Almost all students of the campus and a few faculty members attended the screening. The police asked us to inform them if there was any problem while screening the documentary,” he added.
In a Facebook post, Jaick C Thomas, leader of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) linked to the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist), said the screening will be held in front of the college campus under their protection and asked BJP-RSS members to stop it if they can.
According to the students council of the institute, the RSS members threatened the students that their hands and legs would be cut off if those believing in Hindutva took to the streets. “The screening was scheduled to take place at 7 pm. By 6:45 pm, students started to make arrangements for the event and Pallikkathode police reached the location within 10 minutes. However, they asked us to hold the screening inside the college premises and ignored the threats and abuses against the students. Keeping the safety of students in mind, we screened the documentary in front of the college canteen. We will continue to protest against the RSS and Union government’s approach that threatens the very existence of the Muslim population of India, which is around 15% of the total population. We will continue to amplify the fact that the Ram temple has been built after the demolition of Babri Masjid. Those who want to remain silent, can remain silent,” reads an Instagram post with the hashtag #not_an_inch_back.
Ram Ke Naam is a documentary directed by renowned filmmaker Anand Patwardhan in 1992. It documents the concerted movement by the RSS and Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) to establish a temple at Babri Masjid and interrogates the aftermath of the violence that occurred during the time.
Meanwhile, the Hyderabad unit of Students Federation of India (SFI) conducted the screening of Ram Ke Naam at the campus. An Instagram post read, “The Students of HCU united to uphold the secular fabric of this nation under SFI banner. Glimpses from the movie screening of Ram Ke Naam (In The Name Of God) on 22 January, 2024.”