'Saffronisation of campus': A dilapidated structure converted into Ram Mandir inside UoH campus

Apparently, a small structure, located opposite in front of men's hostel F of the university, was converted into a temple. This building is usually used by the non-teaching staff to celebrate local festivals.

By Nimisha S Pradeep  Published on  11 April 2022 7:41 AM GMT
Saffronisation of campus: A dilapidated structure converted into Ram Mandir inside UoH campus

Hyderabad: In what is being seen as an attempt to "saffronise" the campus, a small, dilapidated structure inside the University of Hyderabad campus was converted into a Ram mandir as part of the Ram Navami celebrations on 10 April.

The structure, located in front of men's hostel F, was being used by the non-teaching staff to celebrate local festivals. On Sunday, the rocks on the premises of the structure were painted orange, a number of orange colour flags were raised, and some rituals/pooja conducted. Right-wing organisations on the campus, especially the Akhil Bharathiya Vidhya Parishad, are believed to be behind this.

Meanwhile, at the Guru Baksh Maidan Hall, Ram Navami celebrations were held in which the Vice-Chancellor of the university is said to have taken part. Meanwhile, some students said how difficult it is to get permission to celebrate other festivals like Christmas or Ramzaan inside the campus.

Gopi Swamy, Students Union General Secretary and Convenor of the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA), said approximately 35-40 people had gathered for the pooja and that some people, he doubted, were from outside the campus. It is an evident attempt to saffronise the university campus, he said.

"At this point, when the campus has just opened (after the pandemic) and new students from different parts of the country, especially without any kind of ideology, are coming to the university, they are trying to attract these students and impose their ideology on them. Recently, instances of saffronisation on the campus are increasing. Ultimately, the idea of campus itself is getting lost," he added.

Gopi also highlights the irony of the incident, drawing parallels with the hijab controversy in schools and colleges in Karnataka. "In the High Court ruling on the hijab issue, it was urged to keep religion out of campuses. Then how are such celebrations permitted and how are shakhas being conducted every week in university spaces?" asked Gopi.

Gopi is also worried that now it is just a small rock or structure but it could expand to various similar activities of immense consequence in the future. He also added that the campus is no more a free space and instead has become a threatening one where anybody who raises their voice against the government, administration, or the majority is being pulled up.

Abhishek Nandan, Students Union President said after the incident, he had urged the V-C not to entertain such activities in the future. He also said that there was no tension on the campus following the incident.

However, Namratha Singh, President ABVP UoH said that the temple was already there and the ABVP and other fringe right wing members only cleaned the place and renovated the temple. "It was already a temple but nobody was taking care of it. So, some students went, cleared the place and renovated the moorthi (stone idol) there. In UoH, all religious festivals are celebrated. Then why are you talking only about Ram Navami? What about Ifthar parties?" she asks.

In a similar incident in the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi on Sunday, a scuffle broke out between the ABVP students and Left front students when the ABVP allegedly tried to stop non-vegetarian food from being cooked in the university's Kaveri hostels. Though both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food is provided in the mess on Sundays, ABVP alleged that this would disrupt the Ram Navami celebrations. Many students were injured in the violence that followed the scuffle.

The university spokesperson, Prof. Kanchan Malik said, "Some pictures were put temporarily on a structure on the campus on the occasion of Ram Navami. The administration has asked the students to remove the same."

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