IISc Bangalore ‘tries to block’ Teesta Setalvad’s talk, relents after faculty intervention
Setalvad’s talk, titled “Communal Harmony and Justice”, organised by an IISc students’ group, was allegedly disallowed hours before its scheduled time
Civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad, who was scheduled to deliver a speech at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, on Wednesday (August 16), was blocked at the entry by the university security guards. Finally, IISc faculty members reportedly intervened to allow her safe entry.
Setalvad’s talk, titled “Communal Harmony and Justice”, was organised by an IISc students’ group. But it was allegedly disallowed hours before its scheduled time at 5pm. After the faculty intervention, the talk reportedly started around 5.45pm, but at a different venue. Around 40 students and four faculty members participated in it while at least 20 citizens were allegedly turned away at the gate. The discussions went on till about 8 pm.
The students’ group, called Break the Silence, had reportedly sought permission for the talk from the IISc administration several days ago, but did not receive any reply. At the eleventh hour, on Wednesday, the administration reportedly told one of the students that the talk could not be held at the venue they had sought permission for.
Setalvad, who was denied regular bail by the Gujarat High Court on July 1 in a case related to the 2002 Gujarat riots and ordered to surrender immediately, finally got relief from Supreme Court later that month. The apex court granted her regular bail saying a charge sheet has been filed in the case against Setalvad and her custodial interrogation is not necessary.
The Telegraph newspaper quoted one of the attendees as saying that some of the ideas that were discussed at the talk were the changing patterns of riots, the “threat” posed by harmony, scientific temper, and rationality to a few, and how social media is being used to propagate hate.More than 500 scientists and academics had asked the IISc in July to ensure the freedom of its students and faculty to express and discuss ideas about science and society. Their open letter came after the Centre-funded institute cancelled a discussion on the criminal justice system on June 28.