Veteran journalist and former Member of Parliament Kuldip Nayar has resigned as Professor Emeritus at the Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communications, protesting against the decision by the Symbiosis College of Arts and Commerce to stop the screening of Sanjay Kak's documentary film on Kashmir ‘Jashn-e-Azadi,' after right wing groups raised objections to it.
In a letter to the institute authorities, Mr. Nayar said: “I submit my resignation from the position of Professor Emeritus in journalism to voice my protest over stopping the screening of the documentary on Kashmir, ‘Jashn-e-Azadi.' You should have fought against the fanatic fringe, but seemed to have preferred to give in. This is not acceptable to me.”
In January, the college cancelled the screening of the film as the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) objected to the alleged separatist nature of the film. Later, it “indefinitely postponed” a three-day seminar on Kashmir called ‘Voices of Kashmir' after Hindu Janjagriti Samiti and Panun Kashmir demanded that the seminar be made “more inclusive.”
The Pune police had sent a letter to the college authorities to “avoid screening the controversial film.”
In the letter, a copy of which is with The Hindu, Mr. Nayar said, “our Constitution guarantees right of expression and the action of your institute has tattered it because of ABVP pressure.”
Neither the institute authorities nor the management of the Symbiosis Society have replied to him, Mr. Nayar told The Hindu over telephone. “I haven't received a word so far. They could have said that they wanted to discuss the issue and explain their stand.”
Explaining the reason for his protest, Mr. Nayar said, “I found that the institute to which I was affiliated did not hold up the right of expression. I could not take it. A university like Symbiosis should have not been so afraid. They should have fought back.”
Asked about the university's reaction to Mr. Nayar's resignation, Symbiosis Society's Principal Director Vidya Yeravdekar said: “When the police wrote to us, we had to abide by the orders. We will discuss the issue with Mr. Nayar. We have always honoured eminent people like Mr. Nayar. We do not want to hurt his sentiments.”
Ms. Yeravdekar emphasised that the decision was mutually agreed upon by the right wing groups and the Symbiosis authorities, including Founder Director S.B. Mujumdar.
The postponed seminar on Kashmir would be made “more inclusive.” “We will go ahead with a healthy debate on Jammu and Kashmir. The faculty is currently conceptualising the seminar, and we will rope in the University of Jammu as well.”