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They are not against us but the truth: Director of the Young Thinkers’ Forum, hounded by leftists for Conclave at NLIU, speaks exclusively to OpIndia

"The majority of the student community did not have a problem with the event. It's only a handful of leftist students who created this hue and cry," remarked Ashutosh Singh Thakur.

Days after a small group of leftists failed to ‘cancel’ the Young Thinkers’ Conclave held at the National Law Institute University (NLIU) in Bhopal, the Director of the Young Thinkers’ Forum, Ashutosh Singh Thakur, spoke exclusively to OpIndia on Monday (October 2).

There has been a ‘hue and cry’ on social media over some books, which were being sold at the event. Leftist media outlets made a fuss about caricatures of some ‘historians’, which were inspired by the book ‘Ten Heads of Ravana: A Critique of Hinduphobic Scholars.’ What do you want to say about the controversy?

I want them (leftists) to first read those books, find the so-called lies/ fabrications and then debate them. They are not disputing the contents of the books. They are not even debating on the book ‘Ten Heads of Ravana.’ They simply want to cancel and ban these books.

They are simply putting up labels of ‘hate-mongering’ and ‘hate speech’ on the speakers of the Young Thinkers’ Conclave. They are not willing to engage in dialogue even though we presented them the opportunity.

Most of these students did not know that the caricatures were based on the book of Rajiv Malhotra and Divya Reddy. I had to explain to some of them that ‘Ten Heads of Ravana’ is a book, which was published 6 months ago.

I request them to read the book and provide a befitting reply to the authors and publishers if they can. This is an opportunity for them. But they just wanted us to remove it altogether.

Why do you think that the ‘leftist ecosystem’ has been rattled by one event?

They are reluctant to talk about facts. They opposed the Young Thinkers’ Conclave because it did not suit their personal opinions. They do not want anybody on their campus (NLIU Bhopal), who does not subscribe to their worldview.

The majority of the student community did not have a problem with the event. It’s only a handful of leftist students who created this hue and cry. They are afraid of exhibitions, books, and events that do not suit their propaganda, ideology and opinions. As such, they wanted to ban us.

Only truth was spoken at the event. They are not against us but the truth. We will keep speaking the truth no matter who opposes us.

Did they try to intimidate you and other members of the Young Thinkers’ Forum?

Yeah. They tore our flex posters with cutters. This happened on the intervening night between September 29 and September 30. On the day of the event, we found that our branding material had been destroyed.

I don’t know what kind of events are held at NLIU Bhopal. Maybe there have not been many events so far, which have challenged the ideology of these handful of students.

A lawyer on X (formerly Twitter) claimed that the Young Thinkers’ Forum was denied permission to host a similar Conclave at the National Law Institute University in 2020. Is there any truth to such allegations?

In 2020, we did not try to organise the event offline. We did it online. It was the time of the Covid-19 pandemic. Why would we approach NLIU at the time of Covid-19? These people post anything to propagate their agenda.

They didn’t even check that there was a pandemic at that time and no question arose about hosting such an event offline at NLIU Bhopal. We never tried to contact the college administration before this event.

It was only this time that we contacted the college. They provided us with a venue, and we hosted an academic event.

How would you respond to the issues raised by the handful of students at NLIU?

If they give any proper academic rebuttal to any of the talks in the Conclave or whatever was presented in the event, then we could do something about it

They have no right to tell us to not go ahead with the event or ban speakers that they do not like. Now, they are reposting tweets of Neeraj Atri but not providing a counter to his tweets.

If they think that his tweets are wrong, then, why don’t they prove it wrong? Their objection is not academic, logical or factual. Just because it does not suit their agenda, they are not able to digest it.

You must have read the articles by the left media, which targeted the Young Thinkers’ Conclave for supposedly ridiculing ‘historians’. What do you want to say about it?

We know the track record of these ‘historians’. They (the left media) are writing as if we are ‘villanising eminent intellectuals’. These liars are intellectuals and our speakers are somehow hatemongers. This is the irony.

The Background of the ‘NLIU Bhopal’ Controversy

The Young Thinkers’ Forum, a Madhya Pradesh-based group of young intellectuals and thought leaders, held its 5th annual ‘Young Thinkers’ Conclave’ at the prestigious National Law Institute University (NLIU) in Bhopal.

The event featured Hindu rights activist Rashmi Samant, journalist Swati Goel Sharma, author Neeraj Atri and several other young, nationalist speakers. The ‘Young Thinkers’ Conclave’ conducted a total of 6 sessions, which were spread out between two days (September 30 and October 1).

The event was organised at the auditorium of NLIU after seeking permission from the administration of the public law school. A small group of leftists (comprising some students and members of the alumni) learnt about the Conclave on September 25 and attempted to coerce the organisers into cancelling the event.

They objected to the list of nationalist speakers, and accused them of being involved in ‘hate mongering.’ The same coterie of leftists also opposed key sessions of the Young Thinkers’ Conclave, including ‘From Dogma to Dharma: Hindu View of Prophetic Monotheism’ and ‘Unravelling Wokesism: Examining the DNA of Social Activism.’

On Saturday (September 30), the vicious group of leftists cried foul over a banner, which featured caricatures of ‘historians’ such as Audrey Truschke, and Ramachandra Guha. Both of them hold the distinction of distorting facts in pursuit of their agenda.

The cabal of leftists also created hullaballoo over the sale of critical, non-mainstream books at the event, including ‘Jesus Christ: An Artifice for Aggression’, ‘Tipu Sultan: Villain or Hero?’, ‘Hindu Rashtra’ and ‘Jihad.’ 

The small group of leftist students and alumni on campus were also aghast at Professor Ram Sharma for calling out woke culture and the hegemony of the ‘pronoun lobby’ in a session titled ‘Unravelling Wokesism: Examining the DNA of Social Activism.’

Despite their all-out attempts to discredit the Young Thinkers’ Forum and disrupt the ‘Young Thinkers’ Conclave’ 2023 held at NLIU Bhopal, the event was a success. As expected, the leftists had a prolonged meltdown on social media.

To lend credence to the social media outrage by leftists, propaganda news outlets such as The Wire and The Quint published vicious articles targeting the ‘Young Thinker’s Conclave’ 2023.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Dibakar Dutta
Dibakar Dutta
Centre-Right. Political analyst. Assistant Editor @Opindia. Reach me at [email protected]

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