DU’s Decision to Remove Gujarat, Muzaffarnagar Riots from Syllabus Receives Backlash

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Delhi University campus. — File photo

Waquar Hasan | Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI — Buckling down under political pressure, Delhi University’s English department has decided to dismiss chapters based on the Gujarat riots and remove any mention of the Muzaffarnagar incident from its undergraduate course. The move was, however, opposed by Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Kumar Jha and the acclaimed Delhi University Professor, Apoorvanand Jha.

Informing about the decision to remove contents about two big vicious riots, Raj Kumar, Head of English Department, said that the academic issues are being politicized and they are taking this decision to avoid any political controversy.

The decision comes after ABVP members reportedly tried to barge into the vice chancellor’s office and surrounded the vice chancellor lodge demanding that the heads of the History and English departments and Ghosh be handed over to them.

“Academic issues are being made political, we don’t want to unnecessarily bring any controversy and prolong this,” Raj Kumar was quoted by The Indian Express as saying.

The decision came a day after the university’s Academic Council (AC) sent back the syllabi to the English and History departments to take a final call, following objections from the right-wing group. Political Science and Sociology, the two other subjects against which objections were raised, were reportedly passed with “minor modifications”.

“We don’t want to hurt sentiments… so we are removing a story called ‘Maniben alias Bibijaan’, and from the English journalism course, we are removing mention of Muzaffarnagar riots. Besides this, we are revising a few other things,” said Kumar.

However, RJD MP Jha said that the decision to remove contents on riots is regressive and that the University should have a space to discuss every kind of topic.

“This is a regressive decision. In that way, we should not teach about the partitions. Anything which happened in contemporary time or history can’t be oblivious. Anti-Sikh riots happened. People should know about the anti-Sikh riots. People should know Gujarat pogrom. People should know what happened in Muzaffarnagar. Because of this behavior, Indian students would have never known what happened in the partition,” said Jha while talking to Caravan Daily.

Reacting to the sentiment issue which was cited to remove the content on the riots, he said that the University syllabus should not be decided like this. The University is the place to discuss all kinds of things and thereby, a discussion is meant to make sure that such incidents don’t happen in the country.

Professor Apoorvanand claimed that such a decision which has been taken owing to the intimidation and attack from the ABVP is a sign of ‘university’s death’.

“If such things started happening, it means this is the death of University. University is run with the department’s academic freedom. If the academics are forced to change the syllabus, they are intimidated, and violently forced to take decisions, it means the university has completely been derailed from its job and path. The University’s administration should have ensured that the English department should work freely. But it becomes apparent that they toed the line,” said Apoorvanand.

He further said that what the ABVP activists have done is not protest, but an attack by not allowing students to study certain contents only because they don’t like them. They don’t discuss that whether teaching certain content is appropriate or not. They were raising slogans like ‘Vande Matram’ and ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ while protesting. These things have nothing to do with the English syllabus. This decision shows that henceforth the students in India will not able to study what their teachers want to teach them but they will study what the ruling party wants.

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