Muslim scholars drop out of Oriental meet

Threats were allegedly sent by ‘Rastriya Hindu Sena’

December 29, 2014 08:42 pm | Updated December 30, 2014 12:47 am IST - NEW DELHI:

At least seven participants of the All-India Oriental Conference (AIOC) to be held in Guwahati next month have dropped out after receiving threat letters.

The letters, received only by Muslim scholars, state: “If you will come at Guwahati, Assam, our people will kill you [sic].”

The threats have been sent under the letter head “Rastriya Hindu Sena” and the address is of Bhartiya Vichar Sadhna publications, Sangh Karyalaya, Nagpore. A letter received by Jawaharlal Nehru University Arabic professor Rizwanur Rehman by speed post was sent from Vadodara, Gujarat.

Following the threat, at least seven teachers of the Aligarh Muslim University have dropped out of the event. In a letter to the organisers, Islamic Studies scholar Abdul Majid Khan wrote, “Assam has witnessed another wave of killings. It is desirable that Islamic Studies section conference is held either in Delhi or in Aligarh where participants can make their presentation.”

“We are academic people and we do not feel safe going there right now. So we are dropping out,” Mr. Khan told The Hindu.

The AIOC is the most prestigious biennale of Indology being held since 1919. It was started by the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI), Pune, where its office is located. BORI was last in the news a decade ago when it was vandalised by Maratha activists who were protesting its collaboration with author James Laine.

Papers on several subjects, including Sanskrit, Islamic Studies and Assamese, Pali, Persian and Arabic, will be presented and around 1,100 scholars have registered for the conference to be held at Gauhati University from January 2 to 4.

AIOC joint secretary Sujata Purkayastha told The Hindu on the phone from Guwahati that they have so far not received any withdrawal letter from the scholars. “We have informed the police as these letters have caused stress to the participants. We have assured them full security,” she said.


Leaders of two organisations – based in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh — that use the banner “Rashtriya Hindu Sena” have denied any involvement in sending the threatening letters. Karnataka’s Pramod Muthalik told The Hindu, “In Nagpur, another group called Hindu Rashtra Sena is active but it is unlikely that it is behind these letters as it is not involved in academics.”

Bhopal’s Surendra Parmar said the letters seem to be a hoax. “Hindu Rashtra Sena’s Dhananjay Desai is in jail [for an alleged murder in Pune.] This looks like the work of a disgruntled individual.”

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