Published: 04th December 2021
Varsity has no jurisdiction over activities in the JNUSU office: Aishe Ghosh on JNU's order to stop screening of documentary Ram Ke Naam
The docu, Raam ke Naam is an award-winning piece on the VHP's campaign to demolish the Babri Masjid. The JNU admin said that 'stringent action' will be taken against students if the screening happens
The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union's plans to conduct a screening of the 1992 documentary, Raam Ke Naam, at its office has invited a circular from the JNU administration, "firmly advising" the students to cancel the screening. The circular signed by the Registrar, Anirban Chakraborti also says that no prior permission was given to the students to screen the documentary.
However, JNUSU President Aishe Ghosh tells Edexlive that the threat from the administration is baseless because they have no control over Teflas, which is the office of the Student Union. "We don't need permission to conduct any activities at our office. The JNU administration has absolutely no jurisdiction over the office. It is not a public place. The keys and the control of the office are in the hands of the Union," she said.
JNU isn't the first university objecting to the screening of this particular documentary by filmmaker Anand Patwardhan. In 2019, students at the University of Hyderabad were detained by the police after they attempted to conduct an open screening of the movie on the campus. The students of the Presidency College, Kolkata were also told to stop the screening of the documentary at their badminton court, but they went ahead with it regardless. Other such instances have been reported through the years. The film, which was released in September 1992, depicts the journey that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad undertook to launch a campaign to build a Ram temple at the site where Babri Masjid stood. It also documents the communal violence that was caused as a result of the campaign. In 1996, the High Court had ordered a prime time screening of the film on Doordarshan TV. It has also won the National Film Award for Best Investigative Documentary and a Filmfare for Best Documentary.
One reason behind the decision to screen this movie is that a fresh batch of students has joined the varsity. Aishe says, "We come from a society where communal propaganda gets fed in droves. We, as students, need to be critical and channelise our political space."
She also contests the decision of the administration to curb the screening of a movie that is easily available on YouTube (albeit with an age restriction in place) and is not banned in India. The Delhi Police has been given a verbal notice about the event, and a written confirmation will be given soon. The students say that it is possible that the administration will file an FIR against the students for conducting the screening. "They might even involve people from the ABVP to create a ruckus at the screening," Aishe adds.
Edexlive reached out to the JNU administration for a word on the issue, and we were told that they have nothing else to say apart from what's already mentioned in the circular.
The screening is scheduled to be held at 9.30 pm today at the JNUSU office on campus.