After the cancellation of a panel discussion conducted by the North East Cell of SRCC, the Student Union and the North East cell have both come out with their statements, regarding the series of events, while Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS) protest in support of the society.
On 23rd January 2020, the Sri Ram College of Commerce Administration cancelled a panel discussion on “Why the North East is Protesting” conducted by the North East Cell of the college a mere few hours before the event, citing reasons of violence and misinformation.
On 24th January 2020, The North East Cell released their official statement regarding this series of events. They described the panel discussion as a discussion on the “North East Narrative: Historical context of the indigenous struggle, which “intended to highlight the narrative of the North-eastern region in the context of preserving their identity.” They also rejected the idea of the discussion being an Anti-CAA talk, as they “believe that this reduces the magnitude of the movement and its aspects and fails to highlight that it was a discussion on the North-East narrative to these protests.”
They added that the event a strictly non-political, educational event. “We also want to reassert that none of our speakers were affiliated to any political party. The events of the North-east remain largely uncovered by major media houses and do not always form a part of discussions about nationwide protests against the Act. This event could have been a space where the attendees are brought in touch with the ground realities of the region that is so often ignored,” said the statement.
They also expressed their disappointment with the Students’ Union. “If the Students’ Union had concerns regarding our event, it is well within their rights to approach the Cell with their concerns. However, they did not communicate with us regarding the event in any manner… We also want to maintain 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.
“The cancellation of this event raises many concerns; it brings to light the blatant bullying by the Students’ Union… Such conduct is highly unacceptable by a representative body and raises larger questions about the type of behaviour that is being normalised on our campus. It also shows how insecure the college is about students from the North-east expressing themselves politically. Cultural shows and food fests conducted by the North-eastern groups are always welcome but the first time when we tried to talk about the real issues of the North-East, we are blatantly shut down despite being provided prior permission.”
At the same time, on 24th January, the SRCC Students’ Union also circulated a statement arguing that the university administration – and not the union – had cancelled the event. The statement said that the cancellation was “based on a lot of factors, one of which was the security of the students”. It also said that concern is obvious if an event which is supposed to be for the information of the SRCC students is attended by more outsiders than the college students, as it looks like a “scripted controversy”. The students’ union is of the firm belief that “the prestigious platform of the college would never be allowed to be misused by any politically motivated group of students.
“Any event in our college should be a representation of all the views and especially on such sensitive issues when the students have clearly taken different stands, we would not want students to be divided further for anybody’s political motives,” added the statement.
The students’ union also said that it was concerned because of the personal target on President Gajendra Chaudhary where he was heckled by the organisers and abused with statements such as, “Garib ka bachha president banana hi galti thi. Tu kisani kar apne baap ke saath. Khud English bol nahi sakta aur koi bole toh bardaasht nahi hoti(it was a mistake to make a poor person the president. You should continue farming with your father. You can’t speak english and find it unbearable to see others doing so” ”
The President Gajendra Chaudhary said to DU Beat, “I saw the poster and thought it could be controversial. I then, as a student representative, told my security concerns to the principal. That was the entire issue… the cell might have added things in their statement because of their frustration with us. They manhandled us and used abusive language, but we didn’t give any reply. I only did it because there were possibilities of violence on campus, and the teachers seemed controversial too”
“However, we sat down with the North East Cell and discussed this issue with them and everything is solved now. If events like these are held in the college in the future, they will be held keeping the security issues in mind,” added the President.
Students Federation of India (SFI) and Krantikari Yuva Sanghatan (KYS) came out to protest in front of the college against the cancellation of the event.
“CAA is inherently not only against the very fundamentals of the constitution but also attacks the fraternal bonds between communities. NRC exercise has achieved little of its objectives in Assam. Instead, it created mass panic and turmoil in the state”, said Kokil Das, SFI member & Resident of Assam, during his address at SRCC.
Another SFI Activist from SRCC, Ananthasekhar, said “The act of SRCC administration is highly condemnable. They are curbing the legitimate voices of dissent against communal, undemocratic and unconstitutional CAA-NRC-NPR.”
However, when the President was asked about these protestors, he said that the North East Cell denied any association with SFI and KYS.
Feature Image Credits: Noihirit Gogoi for DU Beat