College cancels screening of film on Babri demolition

Caving in to alleged pressure of suspected right-wing groups, the ILS Law College in Pune has cancelled the screening of noted filmmaker Anand Patwardhan’s controversial 1992 documentary Ram ke Naam (‘In the name of Ram’) that documents the Babri Masjid demolition.

The film was to be screened at the college auditorium at 5.00 p.m. on Saturday, to be followed by a question-and-answer session with Mr. Patwardhan, who had already bought his tickets for the event.

“It is stupefying. Till yesterday [Thursday], everything was set for the screening. This afternoon [Friday], student organisers called to say that after receiving threats, their faculty decided to cancel the event,” a disappointed Mr. Patwardhan told The Hindu. “The students are refusing to say where the threats came from or to divulge the names of the faculty who cancelled the event. Obviously, they are themselves under threat.”

Mr. Patwardhan suspected it to be the usual case of right-wing intimidation wherein they “threaten the organisers” of the event rather than approaching him. “They know I will not stop,” he said.

College authorities failed to give reasons, stating they were under “tremendous pressure from certain groups” and that the cancellation was “regrettable.”

The film, a searing investigation into the perils of religious fundamentalism since Independence, was made in the aftermath of the Ayodhya riots. It has since incurred the hostility of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its affiliates, who have left no stone unturned to disrupt its screenings since 1993.

In 2002, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) prevented the movie from being screened at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York. However, it denied any involvement in this case. VHP Pune chief Sanjay Kulkarni said, “we know nothing about this.” Milind Ekbote, of the Samatha Hindu Agadhi, a leading Hindutva front in Pune, also denied involvement. “We do things openly. Not coerce behind the scenes,” said Mr. Ekbote.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2022 1:02:59 PM |

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