‘Scripted conspiracy’: Sri Ram College cancels Northeast seminar at student body’s behest

The programme was intended to sensitise students about the ongoing protests and violence in the Northeast.

ByUtkarsh
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‘Scripted conspiracy’: Sri Ram College cancels Northeast seminar at student body’s behest
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On January 23, a programme planned by the Northeast Cell of Sri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University, was cancelled after threats of violence, allegedly from the students’ union.

The event, “Why is the Northeast Protesting?”, was scheduled to be attended by Sangeeta Baroaah Pisharoty, deputy editor at the Wire; Nayan Jyoti, a researcher, activist and trade unionist in Assam; Pradyot Manikya, chief editor of the Northeast Today; Leki Thungon, independent researcher and writer; Prof Amrapali Basumatary of Kirori Mal College.

In a statement, the Northeast Cell said the students’ union had complained to the college administration that the organisers “portrayed a false image of the event in the permission form”.

“On the form, we described the event as ‘A Discussion on the Northeast Narrative: Historical Context of the Indigenous Struggle’, which perfectly encapsulates the idea behind the event. It intended to highlight the narrative of the northeastern region in the context of preserving their identity,” the statement added, “If the administration felt misled by our representation, it is unfortunate. However, we believe that their failure to understand this description points to a certain lack of awareness about the region in its entirety.”

The cell criticised the union for its “failure to recognise us as a formal body”. It also asserted that the event was strictly “non-political”, “educative,” and meant to bring the audience “in touch with the ground realities of the region that is so often ignored”.

In a WhatsApp message sent to the principal before the event was cancelled, the union had said, “We should never allow an activity which is against the goodwill of the college and the society”. They claimed the seminar was “based on one-sided ideologies on the CAA, which may indulge violence and misleading information among the students”.

Referring to a central government order to educational institutions “regarding spreading awareness about the facts and right information about the CAA”, the union said if their demand to cancel the event wasn’t met, they would request the principal to “grant the permission to our seminar which will include the same kind of one sided ideologies”.

The student body also released a statement on Facebook to clarify their role in the cancellation: they had raised issues about the security of the students since they “got information that outsiders from Jamia and JNU are joining the event cum protest”; there was a “conflict of information” in the permission letter and the promotional material as the event looked like a “scripted conspiracy”; and that “any event of the college should be a representation of all the views”.

They also condemned the heckling of the union’s president, Gajendra Chaudhary, who was elected unopposed but endorsed the ABVP in the DU Student Union election.

The Northeast Cell in its statement rejected this explanation and maintained that “different reasons for cancellation has been communicated to different stakeholders so there exists a general atmosphere of confusion regarding the actual reason”. “We were told that it was due to security concerns and the bias of the panel. The speakers were told that it was a technical issue. In the meeting with members of other societies, it was said that the cancellation is due to the inconsistency in the theme of the event,” it added.

The cell further said that the cancellation of the event “brings to light the blatant bullying by the students’ union who unilaterally called up students and teachers and discouraged them from attending stating that there would be violence if the event took place.” This “raises larger questions about the type of behaviour that is being normalised on our campus”, the cell added, and shows the college’s insecurity about students from the Northeast speaking about their realities.

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