BJP ‘goons’ threaten to disrupt a program to discuss Art 370, end up sharing stage: Satara

Progressive forces organise program to dispel myths around Article 370, BJP cadres interfere and turn it into a jingoist display of rabid nationalism

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Image Courtesy: Business Standard

The abrogation of Article 370, a constitutional provision that gave special provisions to the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) has been followed by meticulous micro-management on the ground by the cadres of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to stifle all discussion and possible dissent around the issue. Now an incident at the Satara Law College yesterday reveals how local persons owing allegiance to the riling BJP threatened the authorities.

A program called “भारतीय राज्यघटनेतून 370 कलम हद्दपार: राष्ट्रीय व आंतरराष्ट्रीय परिणाम”, to discuss the actions of the Government of India around the abrogation of the Article 370 and the subsequent lockdown and curfew, was organised on August 29 in Ismailsaheb Mulla Law College of Satara. Satara falls in the Western Maharashtra region.’

Earlier, some persons allied to the BJP had objected to the program. An activist, on the condition of anonymity said, “These persons from the BJP said that if the program has any ‘anti-national’ content then we will disrupt (bawal) it. We will video shoot the whole program.”

The law college is affiliated to Rayat Shikshan Sanstha and was founded by the late Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil. Bhaurao Patil was a leading social activist and educator from Maharashtra. He was a strong advocate of mass education and had founded the Rayat Education Society.

Bhaurao played an important role in educating backward castes and people belonging to low income groups by coining the philosophy earn and learn. He was a prominent member of Satyashodhak Samaj (Truth seeker’s society), founded by Mahatma Jotirao Phule. The people of Maharashtra honoured him with the sobriquet Karmaveer (King of actions) and the Government of India awarded him with Padma Bhushan in 1959 in India.

The program was organised by various progressive groups. Upon hearing about the program, it is reported that these ‘activists’ approached the Principal Dr. Sujata Pawar and asked her to cancel the program. The Principal strongly objected to this and didn’t give in to their demands. She informed them that the college authorities will not cancel the program. The program was scheduled for today, August 29 at Satara.

Later, it was learnt that the BJP goons had demanded from the college authorities to allow one speaker on behalf of BJP so that “they could counter the claims” being made in the program.They were able to coerce the college administration with the help of police and reportedly compelled the college authorities to give them space in the program. The activist said, “Why was it necessary for them to demand to be a part of this program? Why could they not have a separate program?”

The program took place today and had Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s senior leader from the region, Vasant Nalavade as the main speaker. Nalavade is also a retired air-force officer. Reportedly, Nalavade could speak only for ten minutes in the midst of disruption and sloganeering. The BJP cadres apparently shouted “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” and other slogans.  While two others, Praveen Deshpande Kolhapur and Anand Okh from the BJP, occupied the dais for a longer period.

While the number of students was around 50-60, the program saw a huge presence of BJP cadres and police personnel. Clearly, this ‘mass mobilisation’ was orchestrated to ensure dissent and discussion is crushed into silence.

By such moves, which are arguably coercive, a controversial decision of the government is being normalised through such micromanagement.
That a college can, in 21st century India, be coerced into re-shaping discussions and seminars by political forces in power, signals the death knell for intellectual activity and democratic debate. It also is telling that all educational institutions are being watched by rogue and right leaning elements and whenever they would feel a threat to their ideology, they will resort to threats and intimidations. In the immediate aftermath of the announcement, the Home Minister Amit Shah had directed various state units to organise programs to hail the decision. Following this several programs have been held across the country, including one on Akhand Bharat in Mumbai few days back.



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