New Delhi: The administration of the city’s Ambedkar University on Wednesday stopped Prakash Karat, who was supposed to be a panelist in a scheduled discussion on the Citizenship Amendment Act, the National Register of Citizens and the National Population Register, from entering campus.
The university administration cited clauses from the rulebook that did not apply to the Communist Party of India (Marxist) politburo member, alleged students. The talk had been organised by members of the institution’s Students Federation of India, the students’ wing of the CPI(M).
Karat was to speak on the panel which also had The Wire‘s senior editor Arfa Khanum Sherwani and a member of the university’s faculty, Dr Priyanka Jha.
However, when he reached the campus, Karat was refused entry at the University’s entry gate.
Disagreements had allegedly started much before the panelists arrived.
“We had sought prior permission for the event and made sure that we were allotted a room on the campus for the it. But the University initially denied permission to Prakash Karat citing the Model Code of Conduct,” said Kislay Rai Pradhan, a member of AUD’s SFI unit.
Delhi, which goes into polls on February 8, is under the MCC since January 6.
Authorities had no problems with Khanum Sherwani and Jha participating in the talk, he said.
“On the evening of January 21, 2020, the AUD administration came up with a set of ‘room booking’ guidelines which mandated that there shall be no entry for any political personality on the campus, who is or has previously contested elections. This, they said, would conclusively stop Karat from entering. However, Karat has never contested any election. Yet the authorities stopped him on Wednesday,” added Pradhan.
Pradhan also alleged that these guidelines were being worked upon for nearly three years now and had been released in a hurry with the purpose of stopping the event.
Students, early on Wednesday, sat in protest against what they said were hurriedly published guidelines at the campus’s Kashmere Gate entrance. When eventually the panelists arrived and Karat as stopped, the discussion began near the gate itself and the protesting students became its audience.
Karat spoke as well, from outside the gates, with the help of a microphone.
The students urged the University’s pro-vice-chancellor Salil Mishra to take action over what they said was wrongful action taken against Karat.
Karat’s party, CPI(M) has been vocally critical of the CAA, NRC and NPR.
Amidst protests around the country, university campuses and students have taken up a role of no small importance in encouraging dialogue on the issues.
Earlier in the month, pro-BJP journalist Swapan Dasgupta who is a nominated MP in the Rajya Sabha, met with protests at Bengal’s Visva-Bharati University when he went there to speak on the same topic. Dasgupta’s talk, however, had been organised by the university authorities.