Kerala professor calls RSS 'Proto-fascist,' suspended; Congress & CPI(M) demand revocation of suspension
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor and CPI(M) leader V Sivadasan among others have urged the HRD Minister to revoke Prof Sebastian's suspension and put an end to the attempts to constrain academic freedom
A professor at the Kerala University, Gilbert Sebastian who teaches at the Department of International Relations and Politics, has been suspended for calling the RSS a "Proto-fascist" organisation.
Sebastian was suspended after a complaint to the University authorities was submitted by the RSS affiliated students outfit ABVP.
Demanding revocation of professor Sebastian's suspension, the CPI(M) leader V Sivadasan has written to Union Minister of Education Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank that the suspension of Gilbert Sebastian “is unjust.”
“The suspension of an academic for speaking from his perspective is tantamount to silencing free thinking and criticality. Education demands questioning of status quo as this is crucial for evolving responsible citizenship. Freedom of speech cannot be denied to teachers. This act of suspension curtails the intellectual freedom of academics. A classroom should be a space for open discussion- where heterogeneous ideas take root,” Sivadasan said in the letter.
Alleging that such an action is a continuation of “multiple attacks on the academic institutions, teachers and students under this regime in different forms,” Sivadasan added, “This very act of suspension for raising a question, gives credence to the point raised by the Assistant Professor in his classroom – that we might be living under a proto-fascist regime”.
Sivadasan also urged the Union Minister to put an end to the attempts to constrain the academic freedom of Universities and places of higher learning.
In a classroom discussion, Sebastian had used the term “Proto-fascism” for the RSS.
Several Congress leaders including Shashi Tharoor and Kasaragod Lok Sabha member Rajmohan Unnithan have also written to Ramesh Pokhriyal “Nishank” seeking his intervention to revoke the suspension of Professor Sebastian.
“The teacher has all the qualifications and merits to teach. Proto fascism is a technical term and he used it in his class to describe and elaborate on certain political situations. Such a witch-hunting is a transgression into the academic freedom of the university profession,” Unnithan said in his letter.
“All advocates of academic freedom should raise their voices against the suspension of Prof Gilbert Sebastian by the Central University of Kerala for expressing personal political views in his classes. Debate him, don’t silence him!,” urged Tharoor.