Mukhatib 2017, the annual streetplay festival organised by Shunya-the theatre society of Ramjas College on 31st March 2017 saw four plays being censored by the authorities to avoid any type of unrest in the campus. The organisers of the event were reportedly asked for the scripts of the plays which were to be performed in the festival just before the event. This was followed by the cancellation of four plays which had elements of nationalism in them. The students replied to this attempt of the administration by sealing their lips with black tapes and tying black bands around their arms.
There were seven plays scheduled to be performed in the event out of which only three were allowed. The plays of the colleges which were cancelled were SGTB Khalsa college’s play ‘Trump Card‘, Dyal Singh Evening college’s ‘Jokistaan’, Sri Guru Gobind Singh College of Commerce’s ‘sawal to uthega’ and Gargi College’s ‘Main Kashmir, aur aap? Main Manipur’.
Out of the three teams that were allowed to perform, Lady Shri Ram College did not perform as a mark of protest while Miranda House and Kirori Mal College went ahead with their performances “Hadsa-e-Paidaish” and “The Accidental Death of an Anarchist” respectively.
However, the authorities refuted the claims of censorship and said that it was the students who themselves decided to scrap the plays. The acting Principal P.C. Tulsiyan said “The administration did not cancel the plays but Ramjas students who are members of the drama society did it themselves. We had just advised them to not include anything which may hamper the peaceful atmosphere at the college.”
However, speaking to DU Beat on the condition of anonymity, a student organiser said “We were made to sign an undertaking by the authorities who refused to give us permission otherwise. We have been organising Mukhatib for years but never before we have seen this type of censorship and silencing of voices on the pretext of safety.”
The college saw violent protests last month by ABVP against a seminar which featured ‘Umar Khalid’ and ‘Sheila Rashid’ as two of the speakers.
Image credits: Shunya, Ramjas College