Human rights activist Teesta Setalvad was threatened and prevented from conducting a workshop at Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth in Varanasi by Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) activists on Tuesday, February 27. The police who were at the Vidyapeeth refused to control the activists.
According to sources, the police manhandled the University students, who had come to attend the workshop titled, “The role of the mainstream media in times of social media” and they even intimidated Setalvad and her colleagues.
Seetalvad, social activist Muniza Khan and her colleagues met the Police Commissioner of Varanasi, Nitin Ramesh Gokaran, to register a complaint and to question the presence of a huge number of police officers at the Vidyapeeth and them blocking her entry to the college.
In her letter to the police commissioner, Setalvad mentioned that “We were shocked to find an entire posse of police, including the PAC, barricading the gates of the Vidyapeeth. When we reached, efforts were made to restrain us, though we were there for a legitimate programme officially sanctioned by the University. there were no women officers/officials present. The effort to physically restrain me and even push us, especially Teesta Setalvad by male officers amounts to illegal use of force without any authority” . The letter goes on to add that, “Physical handling and restraint of law abiding citizens going into the Kashi Vidyapeeth for an official programme is not part of any duty of the police, and we believe that these actions are under political instructions and some pressures. Beating up students within the Vidyapeeth premises with the Proctor looking on is equally shocking”.
“The police commissioner said that he would institute an inquiry into the intimidation and unlawful activities of the police. Eventually, the event was held elsewhere. The police have no authority to stop us. We are not living in a military state. The police were doing the job of RSS and ABVP,” said Setalvad.
According to sources, the students of the college had organised a press conference where they stated that the Vice Chancellor had informed the students that he was not running the college any longer, but Yogi Adityanath was.
Setalvad, who is the secretary of the Citizens for Justice and Peace, hoped in her letter that suitable steps would be taken to ensure that such infringement of basic fundamental rights of citizens do not take place.