How ABVP, SFI managed to screen two different documentaries at University of Hyderabad on January 26

The Dean of Students' Welfare counselled the student groups and asked them not to screen any of the movies in order to preserve law and order
Image from the screening | Pic: EdexLive
Image from the screening | Pic: EdexLive

The University of Hyderabad (UoH) witnessed two screenings of two different films by student groups yesterday, January 26. The Students' Federation of India (SFI) screened the banned BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) unit screened The Kashmir Files. Apart from minor hurdles and denial of permission from the administration, students said that the atmosphere was peaceful and didn't report any clashes.

Earlier, members of the SFI - HCU Unit had shifted their venue and changed the timing for the screening of BBC's documentary India: The Modi Question, on January 26 from 5 pm, anticipating violence following calls from ABVP members of the university for screening of the film The Kashmir Files at the same time and venue.

SFI's screening
Members of the SFI informed that the police tried to thwart them from screening the BBC documentary. "The police did ask us to stop but we told them that the documentary has been taken off from social media platforms, but there is no ban on screening it inside campuses. We told them to get involved or detain students only if a fight happens," said SFI HCU Secretary, Shiva Durga Rao. Around 400 students were present at the screening, he said. "The ABVP protested against our screening even though we changed the venue and timing. This shows that they only wanted to stop our documentary screening," he added.

Additionally, he also informed that the administration sent him an email and asked them to stop the screening, but they went ahead despite the warnings.

ABVP's screening
Members of the ABVP said that they tried to arrange for projectors and the screen from outside the campus for the screening. "But the police personnel didn't allow it inside. We protested because of this as our screening got delayed by an hour. They eventually allowed it and we resumed the screening," said Sravan, a member of the Central Working Committee of ABVP HCU.

"ABVP HCU’s screening of the movie ‘The Kashmir Files’ was a protest against the University of Hyderabad administration in failing to stop censored documentary aimed at questioning the sovereignty of our country," a statement by ABVP read.

Students from the university also said that more students were present at SFI's screening of the BBC documentary. "The ABVP had screened The Kashmir Files earlier as well and held a discussion following that. No one objected to it then but the problem this time was that they were trying to stop the screening of the BBC documentary," a student said.

Others who were present at the screening also said that the atmosphere was largely peaceful. "The situation was peaceful and not like how it happened on other campuses. More people attended the SFI screening compared to the ABVP screening," said Kiran Kumar, President of All India OBC Students' Association (AIOBCSA) who attended both screenings.

Official word
The Dean of Students' Welfare counselled the student groups and asked them not to screen any of the movies in order to preserve law and order owing to forthcoming end-semester examinations, according to a statement from the University of Hyderabad Registrar Dr Devesh Nigam. "However, students decided to go ahead with their program schedule. We have come to know that one group held the screening in one of the hostels. The campus is peaceful," the statement added.

On whether the university was considering taking any action against the students for not obtaining permission, university authorities denied and said that nothing has been thought of so far. "There was no trend of taking permission for any screenings on campus earlier as well. We always used to screen and debate, discuss things normally," Shiva earlier told EdexLive.

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