Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dalit students in JNU to observe ‘Mahishasura Day’

Publication: The Times Of India Delhi; Date: Oct 12, 2011; Section: Times City; Page: 7

Dalit students in JNU to observe ‘Mahishasura Day’ TIMES NEWS NETWORK

New Delhi: A section of Dalit students in Jawaharlal Nehru University have decided to observe ‘Mahishasura Day’ on October 25 to reiterate that the demon killed by Goddess Durga belonged to a backward community. The All India Backward Students’ Forum (AIBSF) decided to honour Mahishasura after a tussle with another section of students who had allegedly taken the forum head-on for putting up ‘blasphemous posters on the campus during Durga Puja that hurt religious sentiments’. AIBSF claimed that students affiliated with ABVP even assaulted them on Saturday following which a complaint was lodged at the Vasant Kunj police station. The university has also initiated an internal inquiry into the incident.

    “There is a magazine that is circulated on the campus which had an article on the Dalit view of Durga-Mahishasura. We picked up a portion of that article – Who are the Bahujans Really Worshipping? – to use them in the posters that we pasted on the campus,” said Jitendra Kumar Yadav, president of AIBSF that was founded in August last year. AIBSF members said they were just exercising their freedom of expression but some students with a different ideology retaliated. “Our posters were all torn. Then on Saturday, after a public meeting that we organized on the campus, a section of students assaulted us injuring three, including a girl. We complained to the police and also got an MLC done at Safdarjung Hospital,” Jitendra said.

    He added that the forum members will now offer flowers to a picture of Mahishasura on October 25 following which Dalit activists will be invited to address the students. “It’s a matter of our pride now,” said Jitendra, who also met the JNU vice-chancellor on Tuesday with others to discuss the matter. H B Bohidar, proctor, JNU, said, “An internal inquiry is still going on in the matter and we are getting various views from students to reach a conclusion.”

    However, ABVP insisted that the attackers on Saturday were only a mass of JNU students who reacted in an appropriate manner. Yogendra Payasi, Delhi state organising secretary, ABVP, said, “The mood on the campus is really pious during the Navratri and Durga Puja. But these students pasted posters that hurt the religious sentiments of others celebrating the festivals. They just reacted naturally then.”

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