Row over Kerala University fest after students union names it ‘intifada’: Report | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Row over Kerala University fest after CPM-led students union names it ‘intifada’: Report

Mar 04, 2024 09:37 PM IST

‘Intifada’ is an Arabic word that means ‘shaking off’. It is also used by Palestinians to describe their uprising against Israel.

A massive controversy erupted in Kerala after the Communist Party of India-Marxist led students union in University of Kerala proposed to name the institution's annual youth festival as ‘intifada’, an Arabic term used to refer to Palestinian resistance against Israel.

University of Kerala's vice chancellor Dr. Mohanan Kunnummal has now directed that the word be removed from all promotional material(University of Kerala website)
University of Kerala's vice chancellor Dr. Mohanan Kunnummal has now directed that the word be removed from all promotional material(University of Kerala website)

University of Kerala's vice chancellor Dr. Mohanan Kunnummal has now directed that the word be removed from all promotional material including posters and social media handles, The Indian Express reported.

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The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) had lodged a complaint to the university administration, and also filed a petition before Kerala governor Arif Mohammed Khan, who is the chancellor of the varsity.

The students union in the University of Kerala is controlled by CPM's Students Federation of India (SFI). Last week, the students union had unveiled the logo of the festival, set to be held from March 7 to 11.

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‘Attempt to legitimise extremist and terrorist terminologies’: ABVP complaint

In the complaint, ABVP's state secretary EU Eswaraprasad had said that following the Centre's ban on radical outfit Popular Front of India (PFI) and its students' wing Campus Front of India (CFI), several social media handles belonging to the CFI had changed their name as ‘Intifada’ to evade attention of the security agencies.

The Narendra Modi government in 2022 had banned the PFI and its affiliates for five years, declaring them as unlawful organisations. “There had been a number of instances of international linkages of PFI with Global Terrorist Groups and some activists of the PFI have joined Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and participated in terror activities in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan,” the Centre had said in its notification on September 28, 2022.

The ABVP state secretary argued that India shares friendly diplomatic ties with both Palestine and Israel. The Jewish state is regarded as a strategic partner of India, Eswaraprasad said in the ABVP complaint. He added that a government-funded educational institution in the country indulging in "propaganda against one of the friendly countries in the context of their internal conflict is not a good gesture, and it may affect the strategic interest of India.”

The RSS students' wing also alleged that naming the festival Intifada was an attempt by the SFI to legitimise an “extremist and terrorist terminologies”.

‘Naming festival within our domain’: Students' union

Following the ABVP complaint, the university vice chancellor had sought an explanation from the students' union, which said that naming the festival was within its domain, and was in reaction to the Israeli military action “that has been devastating Gaza”.

The Department of Students Service's director had also backed the selection of the name, saying that there was no reason for interference with the union's decision, an explanation rejected by the V-C.

Kerala University V-C asks students' union to ensure compliance

According to the Indian Express report, the university's vice chancellor has asked the registrar, students' union and director of students services to ensure compliance with the directive, warning that failure to do so will be 'viewed seriously.

Adding that the festival is not a place for protest, the vice chancellor said that the union committed a mistake by choosing a word that has connotations that could affect many among the students and the public, the report quoted him as saying.

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