A dissertation paper submitted by a student of TISS, Hyderabad as part of her academic propgramme stirred a significant controversy for blaming domestic violence in Kashmiri society on the Indian Army. The paper, authored by one Ananya Kundu, repeatedly called the region “India occupied Kashmir”.
The paper sparked calls for the Indian Government to stop funding the institute. But as it turns out, it is not the only controversial paper submitted at TISS. Scholar Abhinav Prakash has shared snippets from another study where the author makes extremely controversial comments.
The ‘pro-Azaadi’ paper was authored by one Sreyasi Mukherjee and submitted at the Guwahati campus of TISS. In the paper titled ‘Poetry of Resistance’, the author admits to developing a romantic relationship with one of her subjects apart from eulogising Islam.
The author writes, “It is almost blasphemous to be romantically involved with people on your field, possible subjects. To become friends even. But I was, and I learnt more from observing my partner, who also at times became my subject, than I did from observing Kashmir from a clinical point of view.”
She also writes in the paper, “Some reading would leave me disturbed for days, and in these moments, I took refuge in sermons and short lectures on Islam that said a few things that have stayed with me. The knowledge that Allah would never put me in a situation that I will not be able to come out of, the knowledge that his judgment will always be fair and verily, with hardships come ease, and that to bare my sorrows to Allah to give in to him will actually, always soothe my troubled heart, that gave me a sense of purpose that not too many other things could.”
She adds, “And if I as someone who has repeatedly shunned religion as excessive could take to it at the mere attempt of writing a thesis situated in a protracted conflict, why would not people who have lived there their entire lives not take their strength from Islam?”
Her pro-Azaadi thesis is “one that is a critique of existing power structures as reminiscent of the Westphalian nation states, to fight for what could be, a new world order.” The paper was published in 2017.
There are other such controversial papers published as well. TISS Tuljapur published a paper titled, “State’s Coercive Apparatus: A Study of Military Occupation in Kashmir”.
Another paper was titled, “Violence As A Form of Resistance A Study of Post 1989 Self Determination in India-Controlled-Kashmir”.
Another paper, this time from TISS Tuljapur, openly speaks in support of war against the Indian State and ‘Free Kashmir’.
The ‘rationale’ section of the research paper states that the conflict in the valley is a “result of the forceful occupation that Indian did on the 27th of October, 1947 when the then Maharaja Ranbir Singh signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of India (GOI) with Lord Mountbatten acting as a mediator between the princely state and India to provide armed resistance against the invading Pakistani army and the tribal.”
The author procceds to add that Kashmir has seen “subjugations”, “suppressions”, “tortures”, “disappearances” and “mass graves” of the “worst kind”.
Ananya Kundu in her research paper had written, “Sexual violence was used as a strategic tool against both men and women to break the resistance among individuals and communities and also as a punishment for going against the Indian state (Batool, 2018). With laws in place to provide impunity to security forces for such violations and the larger lack of effectiveness of judicial institutions, such crimes remained hidden under the heavy blanket of silence and justice was never served.”
Since Abhinav Prakash first shared Kundu’s research paper, TISS has issued a statement wherein they said that the institute does not endorse the title and that “Necessary action has been initiated for fact finding”.
However, it begs the question how were such papers published if there was no institutional support for the torrent of such studies. Kanchan Gupta, recently appointed senior adviser to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, said that he wondered if “Tata Institute of Social Sciences, set up in 1936 as ‘Sir Dorabji Tata Graduate School of Social Work’, has mutated into ‘Tata Institute of Subversive Separatism’.”
Given recent developments, it remains to be seen whether anyone is held accountable for the support of separatism observed in the papers published by its campuses.