No ‘anti-national’ lecture, remarks, Kerala varsity tells faculty, staff

The Central University of Kerala has asked its faculty members and staff to “abstain from giving any type of provoking statements or lectures that are anti-national and against the interest of the nation”.

In a circular issued by registrar Rajendra Pilankatta, the university warned of strict disciplinary action against those taking part in such activities.

University sources said the circular, issued on September 2, is a sequel to the suspension of Gilbert Sebastian, assistant professor at the Department of International Relations and Politics.

While teaching first-year MA students on “Fascism and Nazism” on April 19, Gilbert had allegedly described the Sangh Parivar organisations and the Narendra Modi government as proto-fascist. He had allegedly criticised the Centre’s decision to export Covid-19 vaccines, calling it unpatriotic.

The university subsequently set up an inquiry committee and sought an explanation. Gilbert was later placed under suspension, which was revoked on June 10, after he offered an explanation.

The varsity executive council, which met June 24, called Gilbert’s statements anti-national. The council members entrusted Vice Chancellor Prof H Venkateshwarlu to issue a circular, asking the faculty and staff to abstain from making anti-national statements or lectures. The September 2 circular was a result of this directive.

Sources said Gilbert had later written to the V-C against minutes of the council, which had stated that “Gilbert had given a letter of regret, withdrawal of the utterances he made in the class; and future assurance of not repeating.’’

In his letter to the V-C Gilbert wrote that the minutes on withdrawal of his suspension was incorrect and unacceptable to him. “What I had expressed in the letter was clearly a non-admission [of] regret since my views in the class have been misconstrued by others. What I withdrew was any incidental remarks. EC’s observation that my ‘statement in the class was anti-national’, [was] uncalled for and regrettable as it is an unfounded allegation.”

The circular has evoked protests among the academic community at the university, which has President Ram Nath Kovind as its Visitor.

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