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Riots film screening disrupted at Bengal varsity

IANS  |  Kolkata 

The screening of a documentary on the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots at the Visva Bharati Unversity (VBU) was stalled by police midway into the show, claiming they were apprehensive of a communal clash, organisers said on Wednesday.

Nakul Singh Sawhney's documentary "Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai" was screened in at least 60 different venues across 50 cities in India on August 25 by Cinema of Resistance (COR).

The nationwide screening was a mark of protest against the "recent hooliganism by ABVP (right wing students' body Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad) goons" who "forcefully stalled" the screening in Delhi University's Kirori Mal College on August 1, organisers said.

Later, there were attempts to disrupt the showing at the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus in Delhi as well.

According to Kasturi Basu, Kolkata Chapter convenor of COR, the documentary showing at the varsity in Santiniketan in West Bengal's Birbhum district on Tuesday (August 25) was obstructed 45 minutes into its running time by the university's security guards and local police.

"They claimed that they were tipped off by someone that the screening was being done without permission and apprehended the screening could stoke communal violence," Basu told IANS, adding a similar incident happened at a screening in Chennai.

Around 150 students were watching the film at VBU.

While in many locations such as Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, people had come to watch the documentary braving any danger, Basu said it was disheartening to see how the varsity "bowed down" to pressure.

The same was echoed by students of VBU who termed the move as "undemocratic".

"The authority is helpless and hopeless in front of the Sanghis and use undemocratic means to resist students from watching the film. The film is considered to be the pied-piper regarding the showcasing of the real story behind the rise of BJP in UP," Reetam Roy, who studies economics at VBU, said on his Facebook page on Wednesday.

"The VBU authority is unable to take a position on the question of communalism. They are making such acts at the cost of our campus democracy."

When contacted by IANS, Birbhum district police superintendent Mukesh Kumar said: "The university can tell. We can't tell."

Calls to the varsity went unanswered.

In a clash between Hindus and Muslims in 2013, 67 people were killed in riots in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh. Thousands were rendered homeless.

First Published: Wed, August 26 2015. 19:32 IST