Lady Shri Ram College’s SC/ST Cell rescinded its invitation to Guru Prakash Paswan, a national spokesperson of the BJP and a young dynamic leader from Hindu Dalit community, to speak to the students on Dr B.R. Ambedkar’s birth anniversary, April 14, after some members of the student community raised objections.

Paswan was to speak to students, over Zoom, on the topic ‘Ambedkar Beyond Constitution’. The cancellation of the talk was communicated to Paswan on Tuesday, April 12 morning, by the organisers, citing “outcry from the student body” as the reason.

“We regret to inform you that the talk that we had scheduled for Ambedkar Jayanti, on April 14 needs to be called off. There has been no such order from the administration, however, there has been a huge outcry from the student body stating their disagreement with this talk. This is a reaction based on a mix of recent developments in Karnataka and JNU. Since, we would like to refrain the atmosphere of the SC/ST Cell, especially LSR from becoming a political space instead of an academic one, it was in the best interest of the institution to cancel the event,” stated the message sent to Paswan.

Explaining the reasons for the cancellation, the coordinator of the cell, who had extended the invitation to Paswan, said, “There are three other student coordinators along with me and everyone had agreed to invite him initially. However, when members of the student body objected and raised concerns, the other coordinators said we shouldn’t invite him. Since only I was in favour, we could not go through with it.”

Among those who opposed the choice of speaker was LSR’s Students’ Federation of India (SFI) unit, which is affiliated to the CPI(M).

Reacting to the cancellation of the talk, Paswan called it “intolerance of the highest level”.

“I was invited almost a week ago and got a cancellation message just on Tuesday morning. This is intolerance of the highest level. I was willing to have a conversation, to engage with them… Apart from my political affiliation, I also come from an academic background, But even from a political perspective, it’s not correct to stop a person from engaging and speaking. I am a person from the Dalit community willing to speak on Dalit issues on a Dalit leader’s Jayanti. It’s not right,” he said.

Besides his political affiliation, Paswan is an academic, currently working as an assistant professor of Law at Patna University. He has also been serving as an advisor at the Dalit India Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Paswan has co-authored a book titled Makers of the Modern Dalit History with Sudarshan Ramabadran.

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