Jadavpur University was on the boil on Friday over the campus screening of Vivek Agnihotri‘s film ‘Buddha In A Traffic Jam’ drew loud protests from a large section of students and later led to clashes.
Students affiliated to Left-leaning organisation FETSU resorted to sloganeering and brandished posters saying “ABVP go back”, “RSS go back”, “Down with Fascism”, as Agnihotri’s vehicle approached the campus for the screening.
The screening, organised by a group backed by the RSS student wing ABVP, was scheduled at the varsity’s Triguna Sen auditorium, but the university’s alumni association cancelled the screening on Friday morning citing poll code violation.
Despite the protests and cancellation, an open-air screening was held in the varsity’s football grounds close to the auditorium.
However, the varsity’s assistant registrar came and requested the showing be stopped, said Agnihotri.
“We started the screening and I asked the leader of the protest to have a cup of tea with me. Then the assistant registrar came from somewhere and asked us to stop the screening. I don’t know what kind of a university it is, they can’t even decide whether the film can be shown or not shown,” Agnihotri told IANS.
Asked on why there were protests against his film, he said: “Because for the first time in 70 years somebody has dared to expose the Naxal-academia-intellectuals-media nexus.”
But the protesting students said: “Preaching divisiveness and Hindu fundamentalism should not be allowed on the campus.”
Accusing some of the organisers of molesting female students, the FETSU members allegedly beat up some ABVP supporters and confined four of them to the administrative building.
Later, BJP’s actress-turned-leader Rupa Ganguly filed a complaint at the Jadavpur police station that four of those invited for the screening of the award-winning film were beaten up and wrongly confined on a false accusation.
Bharatiya Janata Party leaders staged a demonstration at the police station and then rushed to the university.
“We have come to take the four of our invitees safely home. They have been beaten up. They are in a bad condition. We will wait for ten minutes. And then our people will take one minute to climb the gates and enter the campus,” said BJP leader Debasree Chowdhury.
The ABVP-backed organisers of the screening also drew attention to the simultaneous screening of Nakul Singh Sawhney’s controversial documentary “Muzaffarnagar Abhi Baki Hai” inside the campus, a stone’s throw away from the “Buddha… ” screening.
Vice Chancellor Suranjan Das, who rushed to the campus in the evening by a taxi, pleaded with the students and BJP leaders to maintain peace.
Inspired by Agnihotri’s own life, ‘Buddha In A Traffic Jam’ deals with corruption and Maoism in a business school. The film features actors Mahie Gill, Aanchal Dwivedi, Pallavi Joshi, Anupam Kher, Arunoday Singh and Vivek Vaswani.
The film had attracted controversy earlier when its screening was sought to be cancelled at Jawaharlal Nehru University due to the volatile atmosphere there in the wake of the sedition charges levelled against some students.
However, the film was later screened on campus with Kher, a critic of the students agitation, in attendance.
Inputs from IANS