Thakur College, Mumbai: Students allege coercion to attend 'BJP seminar'

According to reports, students' ID cards were confiscated, and they were directed to march to a session organised by the college

Thakur College in Mumbai (photo: National Herald archives)
Thakur College in Mumbai (photo: National Herald archives)
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NH Digital

In a startling development at Thakur College in Mumbai, students have alleged that they were compelled to attend a BJP seminar featuring Dhruv Goyal, son of Union minister Piyush Goyal. According to reports, students' ID cards were confiscated, and they were directed to march to a session organised by the college. Piyush Goyal is the BJP's Lok Sabha candidate for the Mumbai North seat, under which this college falls.

Raising objections, students observed that the exits were being locked as they headed to the session, seemingly indicating that college authorities anticipated attempts by students to leave. Upon reaching the venue on the seventh floor of the building, students discovered that the session revolved around Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP's accomplishments.

A video captured by a student during the event and first published by The Free Press Journal has since gone viral on social media platforms. In the footage, a student is heard expressing discontent over the confiscation of their identity cards and the forced attendance at the session, albeit while wishing the party good luck for the upcoming general elections. The student is heard questioning the democratic nature of their coercion into attending the event.

During the session, the college principal, as heard in the video, acknowledges that students have exams scheduled for Saturday, but nonetheless urges them to cast their votes.

Addressing the students, Dhruv Goyal emphasised the significance of their first vote, encouraging them to make an independent decision without familial influence, albeit admitting to his own biases.

Criticism of the incident has poured in on social media platforms, with Opposition leaders and private individuals alike condemning the alleged coercion of students. Priyanka Chaturvedi, a Shiv Sena (UBT) Rajya Sabha MP, was among those who voiced their concerns on X. Amidst the uproar, some students were apprehensive that the individual who spoke up during the event might face suspension. Attempts to reach the college principal, Chaitaly Chakraborty, for comment were unsuccessful.

The incident comes as colleges across Mumbai are mandated by the University Grants Commission to conduct awareness campaigns to enhance student participation in electoral processes under the initiative 'Mera Pehla Vote Desh Ke Liye'. However, students have asserted that this period coincides with their exam season, raising concerns about the timing and imposition of such exercises.

Further aggravating the situation, students who attempted to record the proceedings were reportedly reprimanded and instructed to delete the recordings immediately. One student, who dared to voice dissent, expressed their grievances to Dhruv Goyal before his departure from the venue. Subsequently, the principal addressed the gathering, admonishing students for what she termed as their "uncooperative behaviour".

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