In yet another move that is being called out in several quarters for trying to stifle dissenting voices, the Karnataka government is said to have issued oral orders to the authorities of Gulbarga University on Tuesday to cancel the permission for a programme that was supposed to be attended by former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students’ union leader Kanhaiya Kumar.
A federation of various Dalit and student bodies had organised an event at the university where the popular youth leader was set to speak on the topic ‘Responsibility of Youth in Protecting Indian Constitution’. Though the organisers had obtained the nod for the event twice, the permission was withdrawn at the last moment.
Vice Chancellor (in-charge) Parimala Ambekar told reporters that the state government had issued an oral warning about law and order in the university if the popular student leader delivered a speech on the campus, following which she used her discretionary power and withdrew permission for the event.
She said the issue was also discussed with Police Commissioner MN Nagaraj and the university’s Registrar C Somashekhar. “Keeping in view the safety of students and the university’s environment, the decision was taken.”
A member of the organising committee said, “We had approached the university management twice seeking permission and it was granted after a meeting with the syndicate. However, just before the event was to be held, we were told that permission has been withdrawn once again and Section 144 (of the CrPC) has been imposed on the campus.”
Kumar expressed his disappointment on the issue and hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for trying to silence the voice of dissenters. “Whoever questions the big boss (PM), his voice is silenced. The economy is in a shambles. Yet you see crores being spent to tell the world that our PM used to be a poor man,” Kumar said.
Unlike earlier occasions, the students did not stage a protest on the campus as the restrictions under Section 144 could be extended to other places and that could have led to the cancellation of other events.
Later in the day, Kumar addressed a huge crowd at the Vishveshwaraya Bhavan where he said that he wasn’t in Kalburgi to speak in favour of any political party ahead of the upcoming by-elections in Karnataka, but to emphasise the relevance of the Constitution in a democracy.