President Mukherjee bells the nationalism cat

In a stinging rebuke to the events that happened at Ramjas College of Delhi University, President Pranab Mukherjee came very heavily down on people (read ABVP), who said campuses were not places for "anti-national thoughts and slogans".

President Mukherjee bells the nationalism cat

In a stinging rebuke to the events that happened at Ramjas College of Delhi University, President Pranab Mukherjee came very heavily down on people (read ABVP) who said campuses were not places for "anti-national thoughts and slogans".

President, while delivering a lecture on 'India at 70' on Thursday in Kochi, Kerala, said there should be no room in India for the intolerant Indian and added that the country has always been a "bastion of free thought, speech and expression".


Mukherjee underscored that those in universities "must engage in reasoned discussion and debate rather than propagate a culture of unrest". "It is "tragic" to see students being "caught in the vortex of violence and disquiet". The temples of learning must be places of creativity and free thinking," the President said.

The President's sharp remarks came in the wake of the controversy started in Ramjas College when the students and faculty planned to hold a seminar and invited Umar Khalid. What followed was the violence on the streets of DU during a street protest last Wednesday with both sides – the Left-leaning All India Students Association and the ABVP – which branded Khalid as anti-national and objected his invitation.

The President said that our society has always been characterised by the open contestation of diverse schools of thought and debate as well as discussion. "Freedom of speech and expression is one of the most important fundamental rights guaranteed by our Constitution. There must be space for legitimate criticism and dissent,” he said.

Pointing towards rape threats Gurmehar Kaur - a student of Ramjas College - received after one of her older social media posts that read, “Pakistan didn’t kill my dad, war did” went viral, he further said: “I do not consider a society or State to be civilised if its citizens’ behaviour towards women is uncivilised. When we brutalise a woman, we wound the soul of our civilisation.”

“Not only does our Constitution guarantee equal rights to women but our culture and tradition also celebrate the feminine as divine. Protection and safety of our women and children must be a nationwide priority. The acid test of any society is its attitude towards women and children. India should not fail this test,” President Mukherjee said.