The arrest of three ABVP activists in the agitation against history textbook being taught in Delhi University, has received sharp reaction from academic section of the national capital. More than 1000 teachers, professors and intellectuals belonging to various educational institutions of Delhi staged a dharna at Jantar-Mantar on February 28 demanding immediate apology from Dr Upinder Singh, daughter of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, who has compiled the controversial book. Demanding immediate release of the arrested ABVP activists who are repeatedly being denied bail, they warned that their agitation would not stop until the objectionable passages are removed from the book and Dr Upinder Singh apologises from the nation for hurting religious sentiments of Hindus. Meanwhile, the ABVP activists also stormed the Academic Council meeting in the University on February 28.
?It is highly shameful that even the daughter of Prime Minister is involved in the hate campaign of denigrating the great icons of the country and hitting at national sentiments,? said former HRD Minister Dr Murli Manohar Joshi who also joined the dharna. He warned that the battle would be fought from streets to the Parliament and courts. He said if such education system continued in the country the whole system would collapse.
Dr Payal, Prof. in Aurobindo College of Delhi, described it as an attack on the mind and brain of youths. ?Physical attack can be tolerated for some time but such kind of blasphemy would not be tolerated at all. Did Dr Upinder Singh not see even a single good passage in the Ramayana? Despite being associated with the highly educated family she indulged in denigrating the characters of the holy book which is a major source of good values for crores of Hindus,? she said. Dr Inder Kapahy, former secretary of Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA), said the agitation would continue till the objectionable essay is not removed from the book. He said the reading of this essay should agitate every Hindustani.
A memorandum was also presented to HRD Minister Shri Arjun Singh requesting him to intervene in the matter urgently and delete the objectionable text from the concurrent courses of DU. ?On the one hand the Central government has withdrawn an affidavit from the Supreme Court questioning the historicity of Sri Ram and has advised Taslima Nasreen to apologise for hurting the sentiments of Muslims, the Central University of Delhi on the other hand is prescribing scurrilous and vulgar texts about Sri Ram. This cannot be tolerated and has the potential of exploding into a nationwide agitation,? the memorandum said.
Shri Dina Nath Batra, convener of the Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti, has written to the Police Commissioner of Delhi Shri Y.S. Dadwal seeking permission to file an FIR against DU Vice Chancellor Deepak Paintal for insulting and deliberately outraging the religious sentiments of Hindus on February 28. The matter was also raised in Rajya Sabha by some BJP MPs.
It is to be noted that angry ABVP activists had picketed the History Department of Delhi University on February 25 when the Head of the Department Prof. S.Z.H. Jafri refused to listen to them and did not accept their memorandum. The police arrested three ABVP activists and warrants were issued against six other activists. By the time of writing this report the Metropolitan Magistrate of Tis Hazari Districts Court Shri Sudhir Sharma had rejected their bail plea the second day also and the hearing was going on in the court of Sessions Judge on second day too on February 29.
?Our delegation had gone to meet Prof. Jafri to hand over a memorandum. We told him that the department must understand the sentiments of Hindus. But he threw the memorandum at my face which infuriated the activists,? said Vikas Dahiya, state joint secretary of ABVP. ?The Police are extremely under pressure as the Prime Minister'sdaughter is involved in it. It is not the first incident of scuffle in the University. Recently a girl had caught the collar of the local police officer and nothing happened to her. Similarly, despite so much damage and violence in Mumbai by the activists of Raj Thackeray'sparty, he was granted bail the same day. But in this case, the ABVP activists were denied bail and sent to judicial custody for two weeks,? said Shri Dina Nath Batra while talking to Organiser.
?Everything happened before the mediapersons and the police personnel. Entering the room of the HOD we presented him the memorandum and asked him what action he took on our previous memorandum. Instead of giving us any answer Prof. Jafri threw the memorandum at our face and said: ?Get out, I do not want to listen to you.? It provoked the activists. During the scuffle with the HOD the employees of the department also attacked the activists, which forced them to defend themselves. An activist, Malvendra Singh, got injuries in his head,? said Kapil Garg, state executive member of ABVP who was member of the delegation.
Before presenting the memorandum, the ABVP activists organised a Karyakarta Sammelan in which Shri Sunil Ambekar, national organising secretary, Shri Rajkumar Sharma, state president and state secretary Sushri Niharika Sharma addressed the workers and strongly opposed the denigration of Hindu Gods and Goddesses in the textbook.
After presenting the memorandum, the students started a relay huger strike at the gate of the Arts Faculty of the University. Hundreds of activists sat on a dharna to register their protest against denigration of Gods and Goddesses in the essay by A.K. Ramanujan, titled ?Three Hundred Ramayanas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translation? for the course on ?Ancient Indian Culture?. The hunger strike still continues. ?The controversial book has references to Hanuman, which are very offensive. The chapter starts with a query that how many Ramayanas are there, and then a story (without indicating its source) is cited wherein Hanuman is described as ?henchman? of Lord Ram and then again as a ?tiny monkey?. Also, it has been suggested Ravana gave birth to Sita through nasal sneeze,? said Niharika Sharma, ABVP'sDelhi general secretary.
Meanwhile, the communist lobby took out protest marches in all colleges of Delhi University as well as JNU and defended the behaviour of Prof. Jafri. As the protest is gaining momentum against the book, Dr Upinder Singh said that she has nothing to do with the book, but this is a fact that only her name is printed in the book as the complier.