Standing up to the institute management, Progressive Students’ Forum to show two-part film on Gujarat riots and current climate of majoritarianism on campus
Students hand out QR codes for access to the BBC documentary, on Friday. Pic/Twitter/Aslahtweets
The controversy over BBC’s documentary India: The Modi Question has intensified in Mumbai. Despite restrictions on screenings laid down by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) administration, the Progressive Students’ Forum—a students’ collective—has announced the screening at 7 pm on Saturday. The TISS administration on Friday issued an advisory, asking students not to show the BBC programme in defiance of the institute’s warning. Some student bodies protested on campus on Friday regarding the matter.
TISS students stage a protest demonstration on campus on Friday. Pic/Twitter/Aslahtweets
The PSF has announced on social media that they would screen the documentary on campus on Saturday evening. The TISS Students’ Union, too, held a demonstration on the campus on Friday against the Union government’s decision to ban the BBC documentary and curb freedom of speech. Students handed out QR codes providing access to the BBC documentary as well as Anand Patwardhan’s Ram Ke Naam and Maktoob Media’s Gujarat Unhealed.
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Besides this, the Muslim Students Federation also shared QR codes of the documentary. They even pasted posters on the campus that stated, “Truth can’t be concealed.” Another group called the Fraternity Movement also came out with posters.
The institute in its Friday advisory issued by Professor Sasmita Palo, officiating registrar, stated, “It has come to our notice that some groups of students are planning to screen the BBC documentary that has created a disturbance in some parts of the country. Some plan to organise gatherings to protest against related developments in a few universities. This is to inform all the students that the Institute has not permitted any such screening and gatherings which may disturb the academic environment and jeopardise the peace and harmony in our campuses.”
A poster by the PSF about the documentary screening
“Any action by students against this advisory will be dealt with strictly per the rules. We advise all students to refrain from engaging in such activities in contravention of this advisory,” it added.
‘Assault on our rights’
Meanwhile, PSF took to social media and stated, “This act by the administration is a direct assault on our constitutional rights. We appeal to the entire student community in TISS and across universities to rise in rage against the ban and attack on free speech by the BJP government and the TISS administration. The admin’s argument that the screening or even discussion around the issue will affect the academic environment and peace of the institute is highly regressive, which goes against the institute’s ethos.”
“As a social science institute, TISS has always fostered a culture of debate and dissent on campus. We understand the motive behind the ban by the current BJP government on the documentary. But it’s not clear why the TISS admin fears discussion on it,” the post read. The BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sparked controversy across the country after the government banned it earlier this month and called it a “propaganda effort” meant to further a discredited narrative. The government also took it down from a number of social media sites.