Kerala Gov. Arif Mohammed Khan faces angry protests

The Governor said that he was defending the Constitution and would not support any act which poses a threat to it.

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Governor, Arif Mohammed Khan on Saturday faced angry protests from a section of delegates and students at the inauguration of the 80th edition of the Indian History Congress in Kannur in North Kerala, for defending the Citizens Amendment Act (CAA).

Trouble arose when the Governor tried to defend the BJP government at the Centre and criticised the nation-wide anti-CAA and NRC agitations. Soon, student delegates from JNU, Jamia Milia Islamia University and other universities and a section of delegates rose to protest the Governor’s remarks.

“You have no right to violence or to create disturbance. If you want to show black flags, you can show show it,” Mr. Khan told the protesters.

The Governor said that he was defending the Constitution and would not support any act which poses a threat to it. At this point, more delegates rose in their seats and joined the protests displaying anti-CAA and NRC placards. As the protests continued, Mr. Khan remarked, “You cannot shout me down.”

This prompted a section of delegates to raise slogans “Kerala Governor, Shame Shame.”

Soon the police swung into action and took four students into custody. However, they were let off later.

In the meanwhile, CPM Rajya Sabha member, K.K. Ragesh opposed the police move to take a woman research scholar into custody.

When the Governor tried to justify his remarks quoting Mahatma Gandhi and Maulana Azad, veteran historian Irfan Habib who was on the dais asked him to speak on Nathuram Godse. He also asked the Governor to conclude the speech as he had exceeded the allotted time.

Reacting to the protests Mr. Habib said, “The Governor belongs to the BJP and their MP has said that Godse is a deshbhakt.”

He said politics cannot be separated from history. “If you shut down the internet, if you close educational institutions, how can historical research continue in Kashmir?” he asked.

Mr. Khan said he was compelled to digress from his written speech as Ragesh and Habib who had spoken ahead of him had referred to the threat to the Constitution.

“I came with a prepared text. I am under oath. I am officially charged with the responsibility to protect, preserve and defend the constitution. But if somebody makes such statements, then it becomes my duty to speak out. The Indian History Congress has been intolerant during the past two decades,” the Governor added.

Mary, one of the students who was earlier taken into custody, justified the protest. “As a student and as a person from Assam, I am not going to back down. I will have to take up the voice of my people because they have been silenced using force,” she said.

Though the students staged a protest before Governor’s arrival at the venue, the police did not allow the protesters inside. After the inaugural function, the Governor summoned Kannur University Vice-Chancellor Gopinath Raveendran and syndicate members to the guest house and sought the recorded footage and photographs of the event. Khan wanted to know if there was any breach of security and protocol. Kerala Raj Bhavan will examine the footage and take a decision.

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