Authorities say action not related to film screening.
Ten students of the Central University of Rajasthan (CURAJ) were suspended for two weeks as disciplinary action for allegedly disobeying the instructions of authorities and carrying out a late-night demonstration at undesignated sites.
However, according to an NGO, the suspension was carried out in connection with the screening of the banned BBC documentary ‘India: The Modi Question’ on January 26.
The students have been suspended from the academics as well as the hostel on Friday for disobeying the instructions of teachers or the authorities and demonstrating in late hours at places other than designated sites, the suspension order read.
CURAJ Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) president Vikash Pathak said some students associated with the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and National Students Union of India (NSUI) had sent out invitations for the screening of the banned documentary on Gujarat riots near the canteen, following which the action was taken.
He said on January 26, around 40-50 students gathered and started watching the documentary in public on devices, including laptops.
Later, the university administration and police arrived on the spot. A lot of sloganeering also took place against the Centre’s ban on the documentary, Pathak said.
CURAJ authorities, however, said the action on the students has no connection with the screening of the documentary, calling it a routine disciplinary action against the students.
The action wasn’t taken over screening of the documentary. It was a normal, routine, disciplinary action taken against these students, which is a routine activity of an academic institution,” a university official said, wishing anonymity.
On January 27, the university administration issued an order that it has decided to enforce a ban on the screening of the BBC documentary with immediate effect.
Any academic activity in which a gathering is required has to be cleared by the registrar with the recommendations of the dean and students’ welfare. The university administration had also advised the students not to resort to sloganeering and loitering late at night on campus.
However, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), a non-profit organisation, in a statement said 10 students from different disciplines of the university were suspended for allegedly watching the documentary.
“Eight are Muslim, one is Christian and one is Hindu. The PUCL is clear that no screening of any film happened on the 26th of January, 2023. And the question of individual viewing on mobiles is a private matter and comes within the right to privacy of the students,” the organisation said in its statement.
Calling the university’s action “communally selective”, PUCL, in a letter to CURAJ Vice-Chancellor Anand Bhalerao, said, “The students were never heard. No enquiry gave them a hearing and without the students being given a right to hearing and without being issued show cause notices, they were expelled for 15 days from the university and hostel.”