In yet another incident of right wing extremism in college campuses, the Bharatiya Vidyarthi Sena, the student wing of the Shiv Sena, has demanded that a concert by the Pakistani band Jal in Pune's Vishwakarma Institute of Technology be cancelled. According to the BVS, the college has given in to their demands. The concert was supposed to be held on February 26 as a part of the ongoing fest, Melange.
On Wednesday afternoon, around 200 BVS ‘Sainiks' met the college authorities and demanded the concert be cancelled. Speaking to The Hindu, Kiran Sali, vice-president of BVS said the authorities had agreed to their demand. “We told them that Pakistan is still our number one enemy, and we cannot tolerate a performance of a band from Pakistan in Pune. The memories of 26/11 attacks in Mumbai and German bakery blasts in Pune are still alive in our minds.”
A letter given to the college authorities states that Pakistani artists are banned from coming to India, according to “orders from Sena chief Bal Thackeray.”
This is the second incident in two months where college authorities have bowed down to right wing pressure. In January, Symbiosis College of Arts and Commerce had cancelled a fest on Kashmir, after Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), and other Hindu right wing groups objected to its allegedly separatist nature. Prior to that, Jashne-e-azadi a documentary film by Sanjay Kak , scheduled to be a part of the fest, was also cancelled.
“The authorities told us that the decision to invite the band was taken by the students and was a wrong one,” Mr. Sali said. “We told them that if it was allowed then the Shiv Sainiks would act in their own way, and the police would be forced to interfere.” College authorities could not be reached for comments.
According to the student organisers, 3,500 people were expected to attend the concert. The decision to cancel the concert has brought much embarrassment to the students. Over 1000 passes have already been sold, which will now have to be reimbursed.