NIT Calicut professor’s praise for Godse unites ABVP, SFI in protest

ABVP activists marched to the institution and burnt an effigy of Godse. They sought action against the professor for insulting the Mahatma.

BySouth First Desk

Published Feb 06, 2024 | 1:46 PMUpdatedFeb 06, 2024 | 4:01 PM

An FIR has been registered against. Prof Shaija. (Supplied)

The Students Federation of India (SFI), the students’ wing of the ruling CPI(M) in Kerala, on Tuesday, 6 February, staged a protest march in front of the National Institute of Technology-Calicut (NIT-C) in Kozhikode. SFI demanded action against a professor who had allegedly glorified Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse.

Significantly, the SFI protest comes a day after the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), staged a protest against the professor.

“Proud of Godse for saving India,” Professor Dr A Shaija had posted a comment on Facebook that eulogised the man who assassinated the Mahatma.

ABVP activists marched to the institution and burnt an effigy of Godse on Monday. They further sought action against the professor, saying that she posted an insulting comment against the Mahatma.

“The professor posted something which is insulting the Father of the Nation and praising Godse who assassinated him,” a student leader said while addressing the ABVP activists.

During the protest, SFI leaders spoke about the protest march organised by the ABVP.

“We saw the ABVP organising a protest near the campus yesterday (Monday). This made all of us doubt whether the ABVP in Kerala is speaking against the RSS ideologues. It was the RSS idealogues that hailed Godse and said the day he was hanged should be observed as Balidan Diwas,” an SFI leader said during the protest.

“We should also doubt the intentions behind this protest,” she added.

Shaija is a senior faculty member of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at NIT-C. Her comment was on a post by a lawyer, Krishna Raj, who posted Godse’s photograph, captioning it “Hindu Mahasabha activist Nathuram Godse, a hero of many in Bharat”.

Also Read: After suspending Dalit student for questioning communal event, Prof praises Godse

Student, youth outfits seek prof’s ouster

Prof Shaija’s comment came on the Mahatma’s death anniversary that is celebrated as Martyr’s Day.

Though she deleted the comment following the kerfuffle it created, its screenshots started circulating on social media.

The SFI and the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) lodged two separate police complaints. The Muslim Students Federation (MSF), the Kerala Students Union (KSU), and the Youth Congress, too, joined in.

Based on the SFI’s complaint, the Kunnamangalam police registered a case against the professor under Section 153 (wantonly giving provocation, with intent to cause riot) of the Indian Penal Code.

The organisations said those who praised the assassin of the Father of the Nation must not be allowed to continue in the academic wing of a famed institution.

Kozhikode’s Congress Lok Sabha member MK Raghavan expressed shock and shame over the inappropriate comment praising Godse by a person holding a responsible post in NIT. The premier institution is in his constituency.

He said that the authorities concerned should take appropriate action.

In his letter to the NIT-C Director, Raghavan said, “Such statements not only reflect poorly on the academic integrity of our institution but also undermine the values we strive to uphold. It is essential to ensure that our academic environment remains inclusive, respectful, and free from intolerance or hate speech.”

Also Read: Why do students and staff of NIT Calicut accuse its director of saffronising the institution?

Prof ‘enlightened’ by Godse

Prof Shaija, meanwhile, stated that her comment was not inappropriate.

“My comment was not to appreciate the killing of Gandhiji. I never wanted to do so. I had read Godse’s book, Why I Killed Gandhi. Godse was also a freedom fighter,” she told reporters.

“His book has a lot of information and revelations that the average person does not know. Godse has enlightened us in his book. Against this backdrop, I commented on the advocate’s Facebook post. When I realised that people started distorting my comment, I deleted it,” she added.

Prof Shaija, an NIT-C faculty member for the past 25 years, said the furore over her post was connected to the recent unrest on the campus related to the suspension of the Dalit student.

She said nobody from the institute had sought an explanation from her so far. “I am not a sympathiser of any political party. I am an academician,” she said.

Also Read: NIT-C students begin hunger strike against bid to ‘saffronise’ the institute

Dalit student suspended

Prof Shaija’s Facebook comment came at a time when the institute had already been rocked by controversy.

A Dalit student was suspended for a year for protesting against a religious event held on campus hailing Ram temple consecration in Ayodhya.

On 31 January, NIT-C suspended Vyshak Premkumar for a year for breaching “multiple crucial clauses of the institute’s student code of conduct” by protesting against an event organised inside the campus which had religious chants.

The order issued by the dean of the institute said the actions of Vyshak had resulted in “unrest inside the campus”.

Sources close to the student told South First earlier that he had organised a single-man protest against a programme inside the campus which raised religious slogans a day before the Ram Temple consecration in Ayodhya on 22 January.

“He was peacefully protesting in front of the main building on the campus with a placard that had ‘India is not RamRajya’ written on it,” the source added.

Following his protest, he was allegedly assaulted by the members of the Science and Spirituality Club, which organised the event, for objecting to the celebration of the religious event which had painted a map of India in saffron. It also comprised a bow and arrow, often attributed to Lord Ram.

“His placard was destroyed multiple times by the members of the Science and Spirituality Club who objected to his protest,” said the source.