10 Rajasthani Varsity Students Suspended in BBC Documentary Row
Ten students from the Central University of Rajasthan (CURAJ) in the Ajmer district were reportedly seen gathering on campus to watch a contentious BBC documentary about the 2002 Gujarat riots. They were suspended for two weeks.
However, according to university officials, seeing the documentary India: The Modi Question had nothing to do with the students' suspension.
According to the university order, the students have been subjected to disciplinary punishment for allegedly defying officials' orders and holding a late-night protest at an undesignated location.
The students were given a suspension order on Friday for failing to follow directions from professors or authorities and holding late-night protests other than the areas where they were supposed to be. On January 26, the claimed event allegedly occurred.
Vikash Pathak, head of the CURAJ Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), said that invites for the contentious documentary on the Gujarat riots showing close to the campus cafeteria were disseminated on social media. They had resisted the students who had gathered to view the video, he said.
According to Kalu Lal, the Station House Officer (SHO) of Bander Sindri police station, two policemen arrived at the scene to prevent any untoward incidents.
According to authorities, on January 26, around 25 to 30 students congregated there with their faces covered before being ejected from the area.
People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), a nongovernmental organization, wrote to CURAJ Vice-Chancellor Anand Bhalerao to express opposition to the students' treatment.
"There are eight Muslims, one Christian, and one Hindu. The PUCL makes it quite obvious that no movie was shown on January 26, 2023. Additionally, the issue of personal viewing on mobile devices is private and falls within the students' right to privacy, the organization stated in a statement.
The pupils "were never heard," it was said. They were expelled from the university and dormitory for 15 days without a hearing being conducted, without the students being granted a right of hearing, and without being handed show-cause notices. However, university officials said that the disciplinary action against the students was "standard" and had nothing to do with their viewing of the video. "The documentary viewing did not influence the action. According to a university representative, the disciplinary action taken against these students was standard procedure and was typical of an academic institution.
He did not specify what had caused the penalty, but on January 27, the university administration had issued a directive forbidding the broadcast of the BBC program with immediate effect.
Any academic event that calls for a gathering must be approved by the registrar in accordance with the dean's recommendations and the welfare of the students. Additionally, the university administration had warned the students against using sloganeering and loitering on campus after hours.
Multiple YouTube videos and Twitter messages with links to the divisive BBC program are to be blocked, according to instructions from the Center.
The documentary has been derided by the Ministry of External Affairs as a "propaganda effort" that lacks impartiality and exhibits a colonial mentality.
Nevertheless, a number of opposition parties have denounced the government's move and said that they would be against any kind of censorship. Since then, a number of student organizations, including those connected to the Congress and the Left, have organized film screenings at several colleges, which has sometimes resulted in altercations. The exhibition of the movie has been resisted by the ABVP, the student arm of the RSS.