Alumni call on MSU Baroda to reinstate hardy student, not give in to right-wing pressure


New Delhi: Dozens of alumni of the prestigious Faculty of Arts at Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU) in Baroda have written to the Vice Chancellor demanding ‘immediate action’ against the mob which attacked students and teaching staff on the campus on May 5 while exams were in progress. They also called for an investigation by an independent body including elected representatives of the student body, faculty members and alumni.

Shortly after the May 5 attack, the university formed a nine-member investigative team to investigate the matter. The crowd was reportedly led by local Bharatiya Janata party leader and former student wing member of the RSS, Hashmukh Vaghela, accompanied by a Hindu leader Jagran Manch.

Asking how the local BJP leader could manage to lead a violent procession on campus “with impunity” at a time when exams were underway, the former students’ letter to the VC also demanded better security arrangements.

Calling the incident “very disconcerting” and a “grave cause for concern” for the “violent disruption of the review process”; “vandalism of public property and a work of art by a student”; “physical and verbal threats against faculty gazette officers, students and other teaching staff” besides assaulting a student, they also sought to know in what context and “with what real agenda “were the images of the works of art by the student circulated. Since the student was not part of the outgoing batch, the images in question were part of a confidential review process conducted on May 1, five days before they were to be publicly displayed on May 6. Even though teachers and students repeatedly stated that they were not intended for public display as they were not accepted as part of the submission and therefore immediately removed from display, the crowd is down on campus despite that.

According to reports, Vaghela had attained the ability to submit a memorandum against “objectionable” artwork that “he had knowledge of”. Objecting to the artwork, he had said, “Students have become accustomed to exhibiting their anti-Hindu mindset.”

The former students’ letter to the VC stated, “This kind of attack should be alarming to all of us who are concerned about the cultural fabric and democratic ethos of our country; for art students, residents and citizens of this country as a whole. »

The alumni statement emphasized, “This educational institution where we all studied has been a space to learn valuable lessons about our social responsibility as artists and citizens. It is a place where students are not only allowed to make mistakes and learn from them, but also a place where students learn to think deeply, critically and from multiple perspectives about the role of images in our society. It is here that we learn how we, creators of images, can exercise our role with sensitivity and responsibility.

Citing these reasons, the former students declared their solidarity with the student who was rusticated by the union – of which Vaghela is a member – and demanded that the decision be revoked. The union is the university’s highest decision-making body.

The statement read: “The right to education is enshrined in our constitution as well as in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We believe that student Kundan Yadav’s right to education has been violated by the decision taken by a union of which people like Hasmukh Vaghela and their supporters are still members, despite violating the union’s code of conduct. university and the law in broad daylight.

According to media reports, Vaghela in 2007 protested a graduate student’s art installations depicting Jesus Christ and Goddess Durga during an annual assessment exam.

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