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Hindu Munnani and ABVP protest after a Tamil Nadu university invites PFI mouthpiece editor to speak on Periyar and Islam

In the second lecture of the ‘Samooga Needhi and Arivoli (Social Justice and Enlightenment)’ series on ‘Periyar and Islam’ at Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, PFI mouthpiece Puthiya Vidiyal editor Riyaz Ahmed was invited

Members of the Hindu Munnani and the ABVP were stopped by the police from entering the Manonmaniam Sundaranar University (MSU) in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu on Wednesday where a lecture on “Periyar and Islam” was organized.

It was the second lecture of the ‘Samooga Needhi and Arivoli (Social Justice and Enlightenment)’ series on ‘Periyar and Islam’ for which Riyaz Ahmed, the joint editor of ‘Puthiya Vidiyal’, (Daily Dawn) was invited as the guest speaker. The seminar was organised by the Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy in association with the Department of Sociology at MSU.

According to media reports, as the programme started around 11 am, members of Hindu Munnani and ABVP assembled outside of the university. They demanded that they should be allowed as an audience of the programme. A large number of the police force was deployed outside the main gate which prevented them from entering leading to heated arguments. Police said that only students were allowed to participate in the programme. They sent an e-mail to the Governor of Tamil Nadu RN Ravi to bring the matter to his notice.

A leftist news portal unmid.com claimed that the event was wrapped up an hour after it began following the requests from police and university authorities. The portal quoted Professor S Samuel Asir Raj, Director of the Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, saying that he had received a phone call to end this talk.

Riyaz Ahmed is the joint editor of Puthiya Vidiyal (Daily Dawn) newspaper which is the mouthpiece of Popular Front of India

However, Hindu Munnani State Secretary K Kutralanathan said they never asked the cops to cancel the lecture. But they wanted to attend the programme to check if any objectionable content was stated during the lecture. What made people suspicious about the agenda of this programme was that the guest speaker is joint editor of Puthiya Vidiyal, a mouthpiece of Popular Front of India which was banned in Jharkhand as K Kutralanathan claimed. Notably, the then BJP government in Jharkhand had banned the Popular Front of India which is a radical Islamic outfit in 2018 and 2019.

K Kutralanathan told the media that they wanted to know how the university administration invited such a person, but the university had no reply. Heb said that they never demanded to cancel the lecture but they wanted to attend which the police did not allow. Protesters demanded whether it was required in an academic institution to organize a lecture on the issues related to religion. Besides, they further asked whether the university will allow them to organize something similar programme on the Hindu religion.

Kutralanathan expressed concerns this university has the dubious distinction of the breeding ground for many anti-national movements. He said that the emerging security concerns can’t be denied as districts like Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi and Tenkasi of Tamil Nadu share borders with Kerala. There have been reports of arrests of ISIS operatives from the region.

Dr S Samuel Asir Raj, the director of the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy at the MSU told the media that the vice-chancellor had told him to drop the event but he denied.

MSU courted controversies for wrong reasons

Earlier, MSU had included a controversial book – “Walking with the Comrades” written by Naxal sympathizer and a notorious anti-India propagandist Arundhati Roy in its postgraduate English syllabus. But following the protest from the ABVP, the university withdrew it from the syllabus earlier in November 2020.

 

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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