Published: 10th April 2019
IIT Madras cancels Sunil Ilayidom's lecture at the last minute to avoid political discussions during election season
The Kerala Kala Committee had sought permission for the event two weeks ago but the administration cancelled the permission on the morning of the event
The IIT Madras administration cancelled a lecture by writer and critic, Sunil P Ilayidom today claiming that 'political discussions' are not allowed on campus. This is one more in the list of events cancelled by the IIT administration in recent times due to the fact they would be 'political'. Illayidom was also recently in the news when he was attacked by right-wingers for his comments on the Sabarimala issue.
The Kerala Kala Committee, a cultural association on campus comprising of both students and faculty had invited Illayidom for a lecture on campus. The committee claimed that they had sought permission from the administration two weeks ago and they had been actively publicising the event. Various poster had also been posted across campus. However, on Wednesday, the morning of the event, the organisers received a mail from. The administration stating that they were cancelling the venue permission that had been granted previously.
When the students contacted the faculty advisor, they were told that deans from various departments had written to them that the event would be a political. The writer was to speak on the topic, 'Art, Culture and Politics - Possibilities of a New Kerala'. Speaking to Edex, Illayidom said that he wasn't sure of the reason why his lecture was cancelled, especially because it was not politically motivated and had no connection with the upcoming elections. "Somebody told me that there was a complaint from the election commission or maybe a complaint from the University authorities. I think its maybe the right-wing again that is trying to obstruct free-thought again," he said.
"I assume there is a section that did not want me to discuss or explore the possibilities of future political, social and power structures. The right-wing people in my State are completely against me and I'm continuously facing their wrath. So this is just another instance," Illayidom said. The writer is however not protesting the cancellation, "I already had my flight booked to go back today, so I'm getting on the flight and just going home." The students said that since the elections are around the corner, the writer preferred to let the issue go.
The students and faculty of the committee say that they did not expect at all for the event to be cancelled because everything was planned two weeks ago. "Since he is such a well known person, we did not expect that the administration would cancel at the last minute like this," a student said.