Published: 23rd April 2021
CUK launches probe against Kerala prof who called BJP pro-fascist in lecture. Here's how student unions have reacted
The University had formed a three-member committee to investigate the lecture by Gilbert Sebastian, an Assistant Professor in the Department of International Relations and Politics
Student organisations in multitude have come in support of a Central University of Kerala (CUK) teacher, who is currently facing a probe by the University for referring to the Sangh Parivar as being pro-fascist during a lecture. The university had formed a three-member committee to investigate the lecture by Gilbert Sebastian, an Assistant Professor in the Department of International Relations and Politics, who had allegedly called the Sangh Parivar, which includes the BJP, 'pro-fascist' in an online lecture for post-graduate students of his department. The lecture was on 'Fascism and Nazism' and was held on April 20. According to a The New Indian Express report, a PowerPoint slide during the lecture said, "The RSS and its affiliate organisation, together called as the Sangh Parivar meaning the Sangh family (including the BJP) in India can also be considered pro-fascist."
This was called out by the CUK unit of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the RSS-affiliated student organisation. In a statement, it had also called for Sebastian to be dismissed immediately. They had also written to the Union Minister of Education Ramesh Pokhriyal and Home Minister Amit Shah pressing the issue. "The ABVP demand that strict legal action has to be taken against the teacher who abused his teaching position by using the country's official system and portrayed India, the world's largest democracy, as a fascist state," its statement read.
This, however, was condemned by the National Students' Union of India, the Congress' students' wing. Accusing the ABVP of leaking the videos of Sebastian's lecture, they said in a statement, "ABVP has not only failed in their basic responsibility as students to maintain the sanctity of the classroom but is also today a threat to the academic community as they turn against the faculty of the University by leaking their lectures and defaming them," it said.
Soon after the lecture, the videos of the lecture were circulated online. "What is even more worrying is the enormous pressure faculty members of our University are facing in the case of online classes where everyone who gets offended with an academic statement creates an issue out of it, leaking classroom videos and lecture presentations. ABVP should refrain from these filthy practices, and help the university community to build an ecosystem where freedoms of all kinds flourish," it added.
The Fraternity Movement, an independent student organisation, too staged a protest, expressing solidarity with Sebastian on campus on Thursday. "Defending academic freedom is the need of the hour. We are not scared," said the CPM's Students' Federation of India (SFI) in a statement.
Sebastian was not available for a comment on the issue. The CUK spokesperson told us that an investigation is underway.