Former Jammu University Vice Chancellor RD Sharma condemned attempts by a section of varsity students and teachers to hold the institution to ransom. Prof Sharma, currently the Vice Chancellor of Noida International University, also decried attempts to view teaching and research through political prisms.
He was reacting to the controversy generated by a 25-second video clip in which Prof Mohammad Tajuddin appears to describe Bhagat Singh, the revolutionary who was hanged by the British, as a terrorist. The professor had denied the allegation and pointed out that in his two-hour-long lecture he had made the point that the state always tended to view violence against it as terrorism and had cited the example of Bhagat Singh.
While students attending his lecture in Political Science department, the teachers’ body of the university and other sane elements have rallied to Prof Tajuddin’s support, a handful of ABVP members, students and outsiders seem determined to foment trouble on the varsity campus.
On Thursday evening, when Prof Tajuddin was escorted by the police to the old administrative building to appear before an inquiry committee set up by the university, he was abused and heckled by a small group of people. While police outnumbered the group, the miscreants were allowed to shout provocative slogans and call for killing the professor.
The video posted by these miscreants, who tagged several BJP leaders and ABVP members and groups on Facebook, show the police treating them with kid gloves. In the video, some policemen can be seen gently talking to them while others seem to be lightly embracing the intruders!
Due to security threat, the professor was asked to depose before the inquiry panel of the university late in the evening amid police security.
“In Jammu University—where students and faculty members stand politically divided— the right to freedom of expression of the teachers needs to be guarded carefully. Unless teachers are free to discuss all the aspects of their subjects, learning process is just not possible,” asserted Prof Sharma.
Stressing that it is “criminal” to build an opinion on the basis of a 25 second clip, cropped out from a two-hour lecture, Sharma elaborated, “when the professor has not done anything intentionally wrong and has already tendered an unconditional apology, things should not be dragged to such an extent where the academic career of students and the teachers get derailed.”
He, however, pointed out that “when the students are politically active and divided, teachers must be careful in choosing words while interacting with them.”
The varsity had instituted an inquiry committee headed by Dean (Academic Affairs) Keshav Sharma to submit its report within seven days as soon as the controversy erupted on December 1. And the professor was barred from taking regular classes till the outcome of the committee report. The inquiry panel, however, on Thursday sought more time for the submission of its report.
The heckling of Prof Tajuddin came two days after the Jammu University Teachers’ Association expressed outrage over their colleague being branded “anti-national”.