Mumbai: TISS denies nod to programme featuring cow vigilantism at last minute

Updated: Dec 23, 2017, 17:16 IST | Pallavi Smart | Mumbai

Students of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) are certainly exclaiming holy cow after the management, at the last minute, cancelled an event they'd organised to discuss cow vigilantism

Representation pic

Students of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) are certainly exclaiming holy cow after the management, at the last minute, cancelled an event they'd organised to discuss cow vigilantism. Students claim the cancellation occurred under political pressure, while TISS authorities maintain it was done as three other programmes had been planned on the same day and those organising this one had sought permission for it at the last minute.

TISS Protest

The event was to be held on Friday on the topic 'Contemporary politics of hatred: Cow vigilantism, caste atrocities and Islamophobia,' where politician Prakash Ambedkar and activist Teesta Setalvad were to speak. It was organised by the Students of TISS in Resistance (STIR). The talk was to be followed by a rally.

Despite the cancellation of the event, the students went ahead with a protest rally they had planned on Friday
Despite the cancellation of the event, the students went ahead with a protest rally they had planned on Friday

Fail to understand reason
On Friday morning, STIR circulated a message regarding the cancellation of the programme, which did led to anger among students. STIR stated in the message, "The admin has stated that the reason for cancellation is the scheduling of multiple programs on the same day. We fail to understand the reasons cited by the administration for cancellation of this program.

Prakash Ambedkar and activist Teesta Setalvad had been invited to speak on 'Contemporary politics of hatred: Cow vigilantism, caste atrocities and Islamophobia'
Prakash Ambedkar and activist Teesta Setalvad had been invited to speak on 'Contemporary politics of hatred: Cow vigilantism, caste atrocities and Islamophobia'

"TISS has been hosting multiple programs everyday, still a program of merely 1.5 hours duration has been denied permission. We believe that the reasons for cancellation are linked to the current political scenario where those critical of the government are being denied spaces to engage with larger public. In these times when the attacks on various marginalized sections are at a peak, it is very unfortunate that TISS has taken a step back from letting the students discuss and understand the political developments around us. (sic)"

TISS defends
When contacted, Dr S Parsuraman, director, TISS, said, "When these student organisers approached authorities for permission, it was discovered three other students' activities had been organised on the same day on the campus. While for other programmes the organisers had already taken permission well in advance, this specific group approached authorities only on Wednesday or Thursday.

"When the permission request letter was forwarded to the office through the dean, it also mentioned how three other students' programmes are lined up on the same day in which students will already be busy. This is why the programme was not given permission to be held on Friday."

While Ambedkar was not available for comment, Setalvad responded in a text message: "It is unfortunate that censorship is being exercised by an institution like TISS. The administration buckled fearing a backlash by the government. Students did their best to negotiate and have the program as planned. Self-censorship? [More like] undeclared emergency!"

Raising their voices

A protester
'It is sad that political pressure is impacting institute's decisions. TISS has a history of having held multiple programmes at the same time on the same day. There is no other justified reason for denying permission for this one.'

Student stir member
'There were other programs but it's clear that the institute is giving a random reason. Such small multiple events keep happening on campus. We know that the institute denied permission for our event after knowing about the speakers.'

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