Symbiosis College of Arts and Commerce, Pune, deferred its proposed seminar ‘Voices of Kashmir’ indefinitely and cancelled the screening of Sanjay Kak’s film Jashn-e-Azadi after opposition from the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and ‘advice’ from the Pune police.
The seminar was scheduled to be held from February 3 to 5. Workers of the ABVP, a right-wing youth organisation from the RSS stable, met the Symbiosis management last week to oppose the proposed screening of the film. A day later, Symbiosis received a letter from the police with advice that the film not be screened.
On Saturday, the college management decided that the film would not be screened. Two days later, it further decided to put off the seminar for an indefinite period.
“We received a letter from the Pune police, who asked us not to screen the film. We obliged to the request,” said Hrishikesh Soman, principal, Symbiosis College of Arts and Commerce. According to Soman, the seminar was academic and apolitical in nature, and was aimed at introducing Kashmiri culture to the students. “We did not want to hurt anyone’s sentiments,” said Soman.
The police refused to speak on the subject. Deputy commissioner of police (special branch) Makarand Ranade abruptly disconnected the phone when asked about the controversy. Another deputy commissioner, Sanjay Jadhav, did not respond to phone calls.
ABVP representatives said they had objected to the screening because the film depicted the army in a poor light. According to Shailendra Dalvi, ABVP joint secretary, a letter was written to Symbiosis to cancel the screening “as the film wrongly shows that Indian army is committing atrocities in the valley.”