DUSU wants ban on play

ABVP-led body also wants drama society scrapped

The ABVP-led Delhi University Students’ Union has sought an immediate ban on 21-member drama society of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Khalsa College, saying their play hurts Hindu sentiments.

The play is a satire on ‘Hindu nationalists’.

College Principal, Jaswinder Singh said the complaint from DUSU received early this week will soon be taken up at a meeting of the teachers’ committee.

The street play, titled “Welcome to the Machine”, talks about a fictional future machine whose human owner will use it to produce an army of Hindu nationalists.

Controversially, the play also targets Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his alleged role in the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat and holds Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ideologues responsible for conceiving a ‘fascist’ design to destroy the social and cultural ethos of the country.

DUSU president Mohit Nagar told Deccan Herald that they demanded a ban after receiving complaints from students of the same college SGTB Khalsa College.

“I haven’t seen the play, but I have heard that it mocks Hindu gods and goddesses. Isn’t this bad?” he said.

Ronit Sharma, a member of the theatre group, denied the allegations. He said the play merely takes a hard look on radical right wing outfits.

“Yes, we accept that we live in Hindustan. We also accept that we are Hindus. And, we will hear you out when you come to take us back home. But you yourself are a lost traveller. Let me take you back home,” the play says in Hindi, while taking a dig on ghar wapsi (or reconversion) programmes of some Hindu organisations.

Staged 37 times since February 8, the street play also features recent controversial statements of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, right-wing historian Dinanath Batra, BJP MP Yogi Adityanath and Vishva Hindu Parishad leader Sadhvi Prachi.

“This academic year is about to get over, but with controversy stirring up our 3-4 remaining performances could be in jeopardy,” said Sharma.

He, however, says that his group has not received any intimation from DUSU office bearers or RSS-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad activists. 

Guneet Singh Nanda, president of the Khalsa College theatre group called ‘Ankur’, claimed that the three-month long research has gone into the play authored and directed by him.

“We have won 10 awards at different college fests. At some places, judges were afraid of giving us awards,” he said, claiming that the play was always well received by both audience and jury.

“The regressive idea to ban our theatre society is a threat to the democratic culture of Delhi University points out to the shrinking spaces of creativity and access to public spaces to express the same,” Nanda said in a blog, which has sparked an outrage amongst student community.

He said the play also shows how governments have manipulated religion in the garb of a ‘spontaneous communal riot’.

“We call  2002 Gujarat riots and 1984 anti-Sikh riots a pogrom. We take names and hold Modi and the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi responsible for state-sponsored pogrom,” Nanda said.

The play contains parts of speeches by the then Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi on how “effectively” he handled the riots in the state, which comes across as a satirical take on his controversial role. 

The college principal refused to comment on merits of the play. “I am not competent to comment on it. It is for the teachers’ committee to decide,” he said.

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