Central University of Kerala suspends assistant professor for calling BJP-RSS 'proto-fascist organisation'

The committee members were Prof K P Suresh, dean (Academics), Prof M S John of the Department of IR and Politics and controller of examination Dr Muraleedharan Nambiar
Image for representational purpose (Pic: CUK)
Image for representational purpose (Pic: CUK)

Central University of Kerala on Monday suspended an assistant professor who, in an online class on 'Fascism and Nazism', called the RSS and the BJP proto-fascist organisation.

Vice-chancellor H Venkateshwarlu suspended Dr Gilbert Sebastian, an assistant professor in the Department of International Relations and Politics, pending an inquiry earlier, he had set up a three-member internal committee to look into the allegations of misconduct against the faculty member. The committee members were Prof K P Suresh, dean (Academics), Prof M S John of the Department of IR and Politics and controller of examination Dr Muraleedharan Nambiar.

The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the students' wing of the RSS, has threatened mass protest if the VC did not take action against the faculty member. The university had also got a complaint from A Vinod Karuvarakundu, a member of the National Monitoring Committee on Education (SCs, STs, Persons with Special Needs and Minority Education) under the Ministry of Human Resource Development in connection with his online class.

He alleged Dr Sebastain tried to "instill hatred and poison" in the minds of the first-semester MA students against the democratically elected government headed by Narendra Modi. In the online class held on April 19, Dr Sebastain 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 proto-fascist". Proto-fascist movements are those influenced by classical fascist organisations. He added that, Spain under General Franco, Portugal under Salazar, Argentina under Juan Peron, Chile under Pinoche, the apartheid regime in South Africa, and the Hutu ultranationalist and supremacist movement of Rwanda in the early 1990s could be considered proto-fascist, and posed a question whether India under Narendra Modi since 2014 was one.

In the same class, the assistant professor also criticised the government for exporting vaccines at a time when the country's vaccine needs were not met. "That shows their patriotism," he said. His PowerPoint slides and audio of the class were made public. Student organisations such as the CPM's Students Federation of India and the Congress's National Students Union of India defended Dr Sebastian saying any action against him would amount to infringing on the academic freedom of teachers and students.

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