It’s always nice to see friendly rivalry among people of similar interests. It keeps their skills honed and their energy high. The right-wing Hindutva student group in India, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, is competing with the “activists” who shut down Salman Rushdie at Jaipur. The ABVP objected to the screening of a documentary on Kashmir, and behold, the objection achieved its aim: the showing was cancelled. “Activists” 1, ABVP 1. Next round!
Symbiosis University has cancelled the screening of documentary filmmaker Sanjay Kak’s Jashn-e-Azadion Kashmir, after the right-wing student organisation, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), raised objections to its ‘separatist’ nature. The film was supposed to be screened at a three-day national seminar called ‘Voices of Kashmir’ at the Symbiosis College of Arts and Commerce, organised in association with the University Grants Commission (UGC) on February 3, 4 and 5.
The organisation now wants the entire seminar cancelled, ABVP Pune unit Secretary Shailendra Dalvi told The Hindu on Saturday evening. “The content of the seminar, like the film, is anti-India, and against the Indian Army. We will not stand for anything that divides the country. Symbiosis has agreed to cancel the film screening, and we are giving them three days’ time to think about the event, too,” Mr. Dalvi stated.
Spoken like a true bully. Mr Dalvi is showing good form and will put the “activists” on their mettle.
Speaking to The Hindu over telephone, Symbiosis College of Arts and Commerce principal Hrishikesh Soman stated that the ABVP had approached him on Friday, and that the college agreed to cancel the film screening “considering their [ABVP's] emotions and feelings.” “I told them that the seminar is entirely academic, apolitical and non-religious. But the film has met with criticism from all corners. So we have decided to avoid unnecessary controversies and cancel the screening,” Mr. Soman said. “If people have a very strong reason to protest the film, then we should be tolerant enough,” he stated.
Mr Soman is making things too easy for the up and coming ABVP. If he doesn’t offer even a little resistance, how will they hone their skills? It’s unsporting to surrender at once.
Asked if the college would cancel the event altogether, Mr. Soman said: “After the first meeting, the ABVP has not made such a request yet. If they do, then we will try to sort it out.” Asked if the cancellation of the film screening withheld the students’ right to experience and discuss all sides of the Kashmir conflict, Mr. Soman said: “I don’t want to get into petty issues. The seminar will be purely intellectual, and will focus on socio-cultural and educational issues in Kashmir.”
Mr. Soman said Mr. Kak had been “informed categorically” that the film screening had been cancelled.
Quite right too! How dare Mr Kak think his film would be screened as scheduled! Impertinent bastard. I’m very impressed with Mr Soman for being so sharp with him. He may have spoiled play by surrendering too fast, but his carry-through is excellent.