Published: 18th September 2018
Students protest entry of religious group into University of Madras premises blowing conches
The group entered the campus in the noon to lodge a complaint with the Vice-Chancellor, urging him to demote Nallur S Saravanan, head of the Saiva Siddhantha department
Protests erupted at the University of Madras on September 18 when a Hindu religious group, comprising nearly 100 individuals, entered the premises, urging demotion of the head of the Saiva Siddhantha department, for his alleged controversial remarks on Saivist history.
Members of the group, who identified themselves as 'Sivanadiyars', allegedly marched into the university, blowing conch and singing Saivist songs. This led students to stage a protest, asserting that religious groups must not infiltrate educational institutions.
The group entered the campus in the noon to lodge a complaint with the Vice-Chancellor, urging him to demote Nallur S Saravanan, head of the Saiva Siddhantha department as he had often spoken publicly on controversial topics. The professor is also the president of the Saiva Siddhantha Perumandram, which published the book Manikkavasagar: Kaalamum Karuthum that aims to identify grey areas in historical records of the 9th century Tamil poet. The book raises a lot of questions about the period he lived in, the temples in his literature and his ideologies themselves. "Although I didn't write the book, I have publicly spoken about this topic often, leading to controversies," Saravanan said, adding that right-wing groups had staged many protests against him in the past.
Students, who were angered by the entry of the Sivanadiyars, quickly expressed solidarity with the teacher and said that religious groups must not enter places of study. "People who condemn his opinion must do so, using competitive research or by voicing their religious views on other public platforms. Religious groups must not use educational institutions for propaganda," said S Gopinathan, a first-year student. Students from the department and from Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle staged a protest to bar further entry from the group.
Vice-Chancellor P Duraisamy said that university security and police officers quickly asked the religious group to leave the campus.