AMU cancels literary festival halfway to maintain ‘order’, academics say ‘violation of freedom of expression’

The Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) had canceled its 2022 literary festival halfway through, due to “unavoidable circumstances”. The literary festival resumed earlier on Saturday after several rounds of talks between organizers and the university. However, Sunday’s events had to be canceled after Kennedy Auditorium was made “inaccessible” by university administrations.

Held after nearly two years, the university’s decision to cancel the event also comes against the backdrop of a shooting incident at Kennedy Hall on Saturday night. However, event organizers alleged that the lit festival was canceled under government pressure. AMU, however, refuted the claims and said the event was canceled due to “collapsed arrangements” and “public order situations”.

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Meanwhile, some academics claimed that the doors to the venue were locked without giving a reason. They claimed its threat to freedom of expression and violation of the country’s “fundamental principles”. Historian and political scientist Ali Khan Mahmudabad tweeted: “The administrator locked the doors of the place without giving reasons. Muzzling freedom of expression is a serious violation of the fundamental principles of our country. Sad that the hard work of students is thwarted while some people fear dissent! (sic)

AMU spokesperson Shafey Kidwai further advised that the event was canceled to avoid the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak on campus, a leading daily reported.

A member of the organizing committee alleged that the university administration tried to block the festival events. He added that the administrator was under pressure to stop the event where former Reserve Bank of India Governor Prof. Raghuram Rajan was a keynote speaker.

He further claimed that the administrator had given permission for the Sunday event on Saturday evening, but later that night he posted a notice stating that the event had been called due to “unavoidable circumstances”. .

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The three-day literary festival, which included lectures, panel discussions and book discussions, was organized by AMU’s Debating and Literary Club, part of the Cultural Education Center (CEC).This year, the AMU Literary Festival started on May 20 in hybrid mode and was due to end on May 23.

On the first day of AMU’s lit festival, four sessions were held, and on the second, six sessions were held, including one in virtual mode by former Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan. The final day of the WBU Literary Festival was to feature six sessions, including a panel discussion with presenters such as renowned journalist Saba Naqvi and author Ghazala Wahab.

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