In the backdrop of charges that the authorities are trying to stifle dissent all over, CPI (M) leader Prakash Karat was on Wednesday (January 23) not allowed to enter the Ambedkar University here, where he had gone to deliver a talk on the CAA. However, Karat addressed the students standing outside the university gate where security was heavily deployed.
According to the Left-backed The Students Federation of India (SFI) which organised the event, the varsity cited the model code of conduct for Delhi elections as the reason for denial of permission. The student body, however, went ahead with the event. They also raised slogans against the university administration.
SFI also alleged that the administration drenched the requested venue (VC Lawn) with water to ensure that no activity took place there.
The student body had sought permission for the talk on the issues arising out of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Population Register (NPR) and National Register of Citizens (NRC), but the permission was not given by the University.
Karat said the university authorities “obviously do not” know the law.
“They have denied permission for a meeting on CAA on the pretext that there is a model code of conduct in place because of the Delhi elections. The MCC is related to the assembly election and election campaign and nothing to do with a seminar inside a university. It is ridiculous,” he told reporters.
He alleged that the university authorities have “suppressed” debate and discussion within their campus.
“Permission was sought yesterday and was denied on this pretext (MCC),” he said, adding that the students did not accept the diktat of the authorities and listened to him through the locked gates.
In a statement, the university said a few students sought permission to organise a talk on CAA-NRC-NPR on January 22 at the campus.
The speakers were Prakash Karat (Polit Bureau, CPI-M), Arfa Khanum Sherwani (Senior Journalist, The Wire) and Dr Priyanka Jha (Faculty, AUD), it said.
“Due to impending elections of Delhi Legislative Assembly, the Model Code of Conduct is in force. Accordingly, the University advised the students to seek permission from District Election Officer (Central) to organise the event wherein political figures were invited,” it said.
According to an SFI functionary, the model code of conduct seemed to be just an excuse.
“He (Karat) is himself not contesting the Delhi polls and his party is also not in the poll fray,” he said.
He claimed that earlier the varsity would allow permission for events, “but of late it does not give permission for events organised by them”.
“Seeing the turnout of students, Karat delivered the talk while standing outside the varsity gate, which was locked and police were also present,” he said.
The SFI alleged that they somehow managed to get the other speakers inside but when Karat came around 2 pm, the three entry gates of the varsity were locked.
Moreover, the administration had issued an “absurd” set of guidelines on Tuesday evening declaring, among other things, that no “politically affiliated” event can take place on the campus, it said.
Meanwhile, Badal Prakash, a functionary of the RSS-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), said they had informed the varsity administration about the event since it was happening without the permission of authorities and at a time when the model code of conduct is in place. The administration then intervened in the matter.
A police team was deployed outside the gate of the varsity to ensure that no untoward incident takes place, a senior police official said, adding that the varsity had not granted permission for the programme.
Students who had gathered near the gate also shouted slogans against the university administration.
(With inputs from agencies)