Students protest actor Ponkshe’s presence at Pune’s Fergusson College function
PUNE City-based students affiliated with Ambedkarite organisations staged a protest at Fergusson College on Saturday evening demanding cancellation of the programme where Marathi actor Sharad Ponkshe will speak on VD Savarkar.
The actor was invited as the chief guest at the prize distribution function of an elocution competition based on the theme of “Me Savarkar (I am Savarkar )” at the college campus.
When the protesters from Ambedkarite organisations refused to relent, right-wing organisations also raised slogans in favour of Savarkar and Ponkshe at the venue. As tension prevailed, a large number of policemen were deployed on the campus.
The programme which witnessed demonstration from students in the beginning went on smoothly after police were called in. A large number of people attended the event.
Savarkar, popularly known as Veer Savarkar, was a student of Fergusson college and stayed in college hostel’s room number 17 between 1902 and 1905. Every year, the college authorises open his hostel room for visitors during his birth and death anniversaries.
The students’ organisations while opposing the event maintained that the management was comfortable for inviting personalities who “profess the ideology of Nahturam Godse”, but do not allow personalities like retired Bombay High Court Judge BG Kolse Patil, who express progressive and liberal views.
Republican Party of India (Kharat wing) president Sachin Kharat demanded that the event be cancelled alleging that Ponkshe has a controversial background. The organisations alleged that Ponkshe supported the ideology of Savarkar and should not be addressing the students.
Programme organiser Ranjeet Natu said that it was the third year of the competition and Ponkshe was invited as the chief guest where he expressed his views.
“We had made it clear that such kind of protests and opposition to the event will not be tolerated. The students must distinguish between what to protest against and what not to protest,” said Natu.
The police later detained two protestors opposing the event and trying to barge into college’s amphitheatre to allegedly throw ink on Ponkshe. “The programme took place in the presence of Ponkshe and we have deployed a police bandobast outside the venue,” said inspector Dipak Lagad attached to the Deccan Gymkhana police station.
Natu said that an elocution competition on ‘Mi Savarkar’ was held and on Saturday there was the award distribution ceremony organised at the amphitheatre in Fergusson college, where Ponkshe was the chief guest.
“The award ceremony event happens every year and this year Ponkshe was invited as a chief guest. The programmed took place in the presence of Ponkshe and the protesting students should not have shouted slogans such as ‘Savarkar Murdabad’,” said Natu.