In the end, the day that began as a tense one for Panjab University passed off peacefully, but left varsity security and the UT police red-faced as journalist-turned-activist Seema Azad, the speaker, whose presence the Akhil Bharatiya Janata Party (ABVP), the student wing of the BJP, had vowed to oppose with ‘lathis and swords’ on Thursday managed to deliver a seven-minute speech on Friday.
- UT administrator VP Singh Badnore had directed the UT police to to arrest Seema Azad before she delivers her speech.
- There were rumours in the afternoon that Seema Azad was detained at the Chandigarh railway station.
A posse of 100 cops and 100 ABVP members stood around as Seema was introduced Kriti, a turbaned girl student from Kurukshetra, as the 21st and the last speaker at a seminar titled ‘Rising Head of Fascism’ in front of the vice-chancellor’s office around 6pm. Before that, she had been standing among the 300-odd Student for Society (SFS) supporters at the make-shift venue.
Seminar allowed after three-hour meeting
On Friday, PU gave its nod to hold the seminar after a three-hour meeting attended by leaders of all student organisations; MC join commissioner; Mc additional deputy commissioner; hostel wardens; police and PU security officials.
- All PU hostels were checked thrice since morning and the area of seminar was barricaded from four sides.
- Massive traffic chaos outside all the three PU gates due to rigorous checking was witnessed. Even CID officials had been posted to check entry of outsiders.
The organiser, SFS, was allowed to hold the seminar in the law auditorium, if they gave in writing that Seema will not be invited. However, the SFS did not give it in writing and changed their venue to the space in front of the V-C office.
Seema had easy exit from PU
After completing her speech, where she did not say anything controversial, she was ushered off to a car.
A few ABVP leaders did shout that she could be Seema, but SFS leaders distracted the crowd by running towards the sports ground. In the time the confusion subsided, Seema had left the varsity.
- 49 SFS supporters were detained at Panjab University (PU) gate number 1 and not allowed entry. Later, they were produced before the SDM and released
Emanual Nahar, dean students welfare, said, “We maintained law and order as they was no violence or clashes. Anything else was the duty of the police. Seema Azad did not speak anything anti-national.” A senior police official said, “We remained vigilant.
The girl, whom we now find is Seema Azad was introduced as Kriti from Kurukshetra. There was no reason for suspicion as she did not utter anything provocative. Law and order was maintained. If needed, we will arrest her now.”
- An ABVP spokesperson said, “It is a moral victory for the ABVP as all student organisations were against her.
- Under our pressure, she could not speak for more than two-three minutes and could not say anything anti-national.”
The developments at PU came days after ABVP members allegedly attacked activists of Left-leaning student groups at Ramjas College in Delhi over inviting JNU student Umar Khalid to a seminar, re-igniting a debate on free speech and nationalism. ABVP and SFS members had clashed in the university campus on February 27 over the violence at Ramjas College. Then, PU denied permission to SFS to hold a seminar on ‘Rising Head of Fascism’, where Seema Azad was invited.