Play up and play the game

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.



  1. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    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.

    Who controls Kashmir and who the inhabitants want controlling it are trivial, inconsequential, petty issues.

  2. David Hart says

    Isn’t Kashmir one of those places where Hindus and Muslims compete for the right to have a temple/mosque on the same patch of ground, because they both think it’s sacred to their respective gods, and express this rivalry by demolishing their rivals’ temple/mosque? It has long been my opinion that it ought to be possible to design a building with two large spaces inside, each inaccessible to the other from the inside, and each with separate main entrances, one to be used as a mosque, the other as a Hindu temple, and yet construct the building in such a way that if you demolish one half of it, the other will automatically collapse as well. Surely that’s physically possible?

    You then just need the political will to make sure that on any of these disputed sites, one of these mutually-assured-demolition temple/mosques is built, and thus we can hopefully achieve peace (if not harmony exactly) by using each side’s taboos to cancel out the other’s.

  3. says

    David, you might be thinking of Ayodhya. Kashmir is a whole state. It’s a territorial dispute, not a building dispute – though of course the “rival” religions are all tangled up in it.

  4. Irreverend Bastard says


    “mutually-assured-demolition temple”

    Good idea, but won’t work. The people of the “good” religion will destroy the “evil” part of the building, and then they will go to war against the people of the “evil” religion because the “good” part of the building is now in ruins.

  5. says

    We will not stand for anything that divides the country.

    If there’s one thing that never fails to entertain me it’s belligerent partisan attacks on divisiveness. It’s like pistol-whipping someone for not being a pacifist.

  6. David Hart says

    Yeah, I’m aware that Kashmir is a whole territory, but I must have misremembered the Ayodhya issue as having happened within it; cheers for filling me in. Well, either way, I still say it’s worth a go, at least once, just to see what would happen.

  7. Steven Murray says

    That’s been done already, the multi-denominational church thing, surely you must have heard about the yearly christmas scrap between Orthodox and Armenian priests in Jerusalem when one of them sweeps a broom over the other’s floor, and the repair ladder that’s been stuck halfway up a wall where the territorial line is unclear.

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