Mangalore University was rocked by protests on Wednesday, March 30, after student activists from the Campus Front of India (CFI) agitated against RSS leader Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat who was invited to inaugurate the student council of the university.
“We had already submitted a memorandum to the university and told them he shouldn’t be invited. His speeches in the past have always been targeted at a community and meant to polarize society. Someone like that shouldn’t don’t make speeches to students,” said CFI member Fathima Usman, who led the protests at the university.
However, the director of student welfare, Dr Kishori Nayak K, told Edexlive that it was the decision of the students at the university to invite the RSS manager for the program. “I don’t think there was any intolerance. The decision was made by the student body. The program was conducted peacefully and there were no controversial statements. I did not acknowledge students at the protest and it is likely that a few of them were from some of our affiliated colleges. Dr. Nayak also adds that students have the right to demonstrate democratically. “Students have registered their protest because they have the right to do so,” she adds.
According to a report by The new Indian Express, RSS member Bhat reportedly called on Hindus to continue their ongoing “campaign” against allowing Muslim vendors near temples.
The CFI says the university could have intervened in the decision to invite Bhat, given his history of alleged hate speech. “They could have selected other academics better suited to address the students. We need to protest because it’s our future that’s at stake here,” Usman says.
While students were not allowed on campus, they gathered at the gate to register what was a largely peaceful protest. Dr. Nayak and Usman verify that no complaints have been reported.