Pondicherry University magazine yet to see light
Puducherry: Amid wide criticism that it was stifling free expression, the Pondicherry University on Tuesday said it had not banned the students’ council magazine ‘Widerstand’ — not yet. “The university has not banned the magazine.
I had only told the media that the university initiated action based on the controversies over the contents of the magazine, but my words have been misinterpreted as a ban on the publication”, varsity assistant registrar (public relations) M. Vallathan told Deccan Chronicle.
The magazine committee members, however, alleged that the university had imposed an indirect ban by locking up 4,000 copies of the annual publication inside the students’ council room. “This amounts to a ban, isn’t it? They have kept the copies in the council room and locked up the place, which is nothing but an indirect ban”, said Anjali Ganga, editor, Widerstand.
When the magazine came out on Wednesday last week, it created an uproar amid the saffron brigade as the editorial slammed the NDA Government accusing it of saffronising educational institutions. The democratic nation “has turned into a fascist one, Dalits were burned alive and the educational institutions were saffronised”, it said.
The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the BJP, launched a campaign against Widerstand and sought its ban. It also pasted posters all over the campus and outside damning the magazine and dubbing its editorial team as 'anti-national'.
Not just that; there was allegedly pressure from the MHRD on the university top brass to stop the magazine from reaching its target audience, the student community. The nearly 4,000 copies waiting to be distributed got locked up in the students' council room, the key 'safely' in the management custody.
Apart from the Left, the Students' Federation of India (SFI) and the Ambedkar Students' Association have come out strongly in support of Widerstand, arguing that there was nothing 'anti-national' in its contents and blocking its circulation amounted to choking freedom of expression of the students.
Said a students' council member: “The MHRD stayed indifferent when the students launched a massive agitation last July-August demanding the removal of vice-chancellor Chandra Krishnamurthy. The Ministry reacted only after 18 days then. But now, they have pounced upon us within a day of our magazine coming out just because some of its contents opposed saffronising of educational institutions”.