Politics

I was Dropped as Speaker, Says BJP’s Shazia Ilmi; Jamia Refutes Charge

File photo of Shazia Ilmi. Credit: PTI

File photo of Shazia Ilmi. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: BJP leader Shazia Ilmi today accused Jamia University of putting “pressure” on the organisers of an event to drop her name from a panel of speakers for a seminar on triple talaq, a charge denied by the varsity.

According to Ilmi, she was invited by the RSS-supported Forum for Awareness of National Security (FANS) to speak at a seminar on ‘triple talaq’ and the university pressurised the organisers to change the subject to ‘Muslims Women’s Empowerment: Issues and Challenges’ and drop her name from the speakers list.

The forum, which has RSS ideologue Indresh Kumar as its patron, confirmed the sequence of events even as Jamia Millia Islamia authorities rubbished the allegations.

“The event was not organised by the university or any of its departments. The auditorium was rented out to the organisers and in such events the varsity has nothing to do with either the subject or choice of the speakers. It was not our prerogative,” a Jamia spokesperson said, denying allegations of pressurising the organisers.

Programme convenor Shailesh Vats, however, said, “We had finalised the speakers and the subject but then we were advised by the university to make some changes saying the atmosphere in the universities is not conducive to have such a discussion.”

Alleging that students had also gathered at the programme venue to protest her presence, Ilmi told PTI, “There was a lot of pressure on the organisers. First they changed the topic from triple talaq to women empowerment. Then they wanted me to be dropped from the speakers list. In the first initiation my name was there but in the second card my name was removed.”

“The organisers requested the authorities to allow them to invite me but they said no she will create a lot of problems. I also learnt that students were gathered outside the programme venue to stop me from speaking at the event,” she added.

The allegations by Ilmi and the RSS forum come at a point when the debate on freedom of expression is at its peak in the country.

Delhi University’s Ramjas College last week witnessed widespread violence over the cancellation of an invite to speak at a seminar which was extended to JNU students Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid, on the ground that the two were “anti-nationals”.