New Delhi: Two faculty members of an engineering college from Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh have been suspended for asking a student to step down from the stage after he greeted the audience during a student induction ceremony with a loud ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogan.
Over the years, the religious slogan has gained political connotations with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other Hindutva outfits raising it at their events and rallies. On various occasions in the college and university premises, the BJP’s student wing, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), has raised such slogans for political reasons.
A video clip showing a teacher asking the student to step down from the stage on October 20 was circulated widely on X (formerly Twitter), prompting various Hindutva outfits to express outrage at the teachers’ action. Soon, another video clip, featuring a different faculty member warning students that no programme would be allowed if they chant Jai Shri Ram also went viral.
The outrage shown by Hindutva outfits soon reached the campus with Hindu Raksha Dal planning a protest against the teachers – Mamta Gautam and Shweta Sharma. As per news reports, police personnel were deployed at the campus due to the protest.
Later in the day, Sanjay Kumar, the director of ABES Engineering College in the state’s Ghaziabad district, took to social media to state that he was aware of the video and that no action would be taken against the student or students supporting him so that they don’t feel “demoralised”. He also said in that video statement that a “high-level inquiry committee” has been formed to look into the behaviour of the two teachers.
On October 21, even as a Hindtuva group, Hindu Raksha Dal, had announced a protest against the faculty member who had asked the student to step down, Kumar posted another video on Instagram to announce that the behaviour of the two teachers was “inappropriate”. He said the committee was asked to submit their recommendations within 24 hours which it adhered to. “As per its recommendation, we have decided to suspend the services of the two faculty members immediately,” he added.
Both the teachers have not pleaded guilty. One of the suspended teachers, Mamta Gautam, said in a video statement that she was not opposed to chanting Jai Shri Ram but the student was removed from the stage because he was arguing with her. “Highlighting her ‘Sanatani’ roots, the teacher says she is being targeted by an online mob,” New18 reported.
Meanwhile, local police have told some TV channels that they are “investigating the matter” and “suitable action would be taken”.
This article was first published on The Wire.