“Democracy is teachers having the right to express, share readings, debate and mentor students in classrooms. I do not think learning is possible otherwise, as learning itself is beyond conventional political ideology and political agenda.” – Shilpa Singh, Assistant professor
On 19th October, Joint Secretary Prabha Naike of Akhil Bhartiya Vidya Parishad of Konkan State wrote a letter to the principle of V. M. Salgaonkar demanding immediate termination of Assistant Professor Shilpi Singh.
In the letter, joint Secretary condemned the teaching method of political science professor Ms Shilpi. In the letter, Naike mentions that the “ABVP Goa, condemns the horrendous and vile act of professor for creating a socially disturbing environment for students of V.M. Salgaonkar College of Law, Miramar.”
The letter also threatens the principle that if the college fails to take action in 24 hours, the unit will be forced to start a severe agitation against the institution and also approach the police to take action under criminal law.
The college authorities by responding to ABVPS’S letter said: “it’s not possible”. However, the college authorities took immediate cognizance of the letter and asked an explanation from Professor Singh on the same day.
In the interview to Indian Express Ms, Singh responded “This is muzzling academic freedom. For me, doing humanities is to shoulder some social responsibilities, especially being a woman. If you curtail this freedom, it’s equivalent to me dying.”
Political science Professor Singh also added in the interview that, “I was informed that they had issues with my teachings of Manusmriti and were not comfortable bringing Rohith Vemula, (Hyderabad university student who allegedly died by suicide), M M Kalburgi and (Narendra) Dabholkar (rationalists and activists who were murdered) into my teachings. They also had issues with a response to a particular query on beef that I seem to have shared.”
Rajkumar, an independent journalist and trainer who first reported this incident writes in the article that, “It’s persistent in ABVP’s nature to see a healthy educational environment and discourse with suspicions and disrupts it with the controversial environment. Significantly, this is not the first time that the ABVP has targeted a teacher. We are constantly witnessing the rise of right-wing and polarization in the country. Such a phenomenon is worrying in a state like Goa. Goa should learn and be careful from the results that have come out of this polarization and intolerance in the North.”
The teacher fraternity across Goa has expressed their solidarity for Professor Singh. Rahul Tripathi, HoD, Political Science, Goa University, said: “We came together to support the idea of a classroom. A classroom is a sacred space. What a Political Science teacher discusses in the classroom is as per norms, which have evolved through so many procedures, in which many academics have contributed. A non-expert has no locus standi to what is discussed inside a classroom.”
The student wing of RSS, ABVP has a history of attacking teachers, students and educational institutes. In February breaking all the boundaries and law, ABVP mob thrashed Professor Prasanta Chakravarty and tried to strangle him with his muffler. And many more such incidents vandalizing colleges and assaulting students have been reported from the campuses across India. ABVP is also involved in the disappearance of Najeeb Ahmed from JNU campus. The simple Google search ‘ABVP attack’ gives the long list and bring back the memory of horrific attacks done by this right-wing group on students fraternity from several prestigious campuses like HCU, FTII, JNU, DU and many more.
The V. M. Salgaonkar Law College must not tolerate such vindictive attempts to destroy the educational atmosphere of the college. The ABVP which comes from the Sangh Pariwar whose another political group Bhartiya Janta Party which is currently the ruling party of India is making similar vicious attempts to destroy ‘rational thinking’. The government and the party leaders’ continuously are attacking activist, journalists, Artists students and educational institutes.
The college must not fell to this attempt of cultural policing and should respond to this by upholding constitutionally ensured freedom of expression, intellectual environment and the culture of dissent in the campus.