THIRUVANANTHAPURAM/HYDERABAD/NEW DELHI: The Opposition’s pushback against the government purging social media of a controversial BBC documentary on the 2002 Gujarat riots came from university campuses with multiple screenings in Kerala, Telangana and New Delhi amid protests by the BJP’s youth wing.
At the volatile Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi, a group of students watched the documentary together on their mobile phones. Just before its screening, there was a power cut, leading to suspicion that the administration had pulled the plug. The organisers, then, shared the Quick Response (QR) code of the series, India: The Modi Question, to help the students watch it on their smart phones as a workaround.
Attacking the ABVP, JNU students union president Aishe Ghosh said, “If ABVP had a problem with screening, then they should also hold a parallel screening or debate on it.” While the first screening happened in the University of Hyderabad on Saturday last, the process took off in a big way in Kerala on Tuesday. Screenings across Kerala were organised by the youth wings of both the CPM and the Congress. Tension prevailed in various parts of the state, especially in Thiruvananthapuram, Palakkad and Wayanad following vociferous protests by the BJP Yuva Morcha workers, who tried to prevent screenings organised by the DYFI-SFI and the Youth Congress.
The Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) organised the screening in Muthalakulam, Kozhikode. In Thiruvananthapuram, the screening organised by the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) in the Government Law College and the University College went off without a hitch. However, a screening at Poojapura turned into a street fight with BJP workers trying to remove barricades erected by the police to prevent them from reaching the venue. The police had to fire water cannons six times at the protesters. A similar protest was witnessed at Manaveeyam road, where the Youth Congress screened it.
In Telangana, a group of students under the aegis of the Fraternity Movement screened it at the University of Hyderabad without seeking the administration’s permission. The matter came to light after the ABVP lodged a complaint with the university’s Registrar. The administration then tried to stop it but the organisers refused to budge.