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Banaras varsity play glorifying Nathuram Godse sparks controversy

Thursday February 22, 2018 7:23 PM, Rahul Garg

Nathuram Godse

New Delhi: Banaras Hindu University (BHU) is in the news again, this time for a play staged at the annual cultural festival. The Marathi play, “I, Nathuram Godse Speaking” was the cause of controversy, with students alleging that it showed Mahatma Gandhi in a poor light, glorified his assassin and justified his assassination.

The play was staged as part of the three day event titled ‘Sanskriti - 2018’, organised by the Faculty of Arts. The controversial play was staged as a monologue by one student. A video of the play went viral soon afterward. It shows students cheering and clapping as the play is enacted.

Students filed a complaint objecting to the play on Wednesday. The complaint raised the question -- “How did a programme, which hurts the country’s constitutional values be allowed?” “This is indicative of a larger conspiracy. Sentenced to death by the courts, terrorist Godse’s glorifying portrayal amounts to hurting the unity and pride of India and this is nothing less than deshdroh. We demand an inquiry into this.”

In their complaint, they said that the play represented Mahatma Gandhi in “poor light, held him responsible for Partition, and justified his assassination.” They added that the play glorified Godse, and amounts to sedition. Godse was a convicted-hanged “terrorist, whose glorification amounts to sedition,” the complaint states.

Vikas Singh, a member of NSUI and ex-general secretary of BHU’s student council who filed the complaint, told TwoCircles that “The event was the direct hit on the image of nation’s father Mahatma Gandhi. Godse was a terrorist who killed Gandhi. But in the yesterday’s event, there was a possible attempt to glorify Godse and appropriation of Gandhi’s killing.”

Sanjeev Mishra, the Station House Officer, Lanka, told the Indian Express that he had “accepted” a complaint over the purported performance. “We are yet to receive any videos of the programme. Once we receive them, we will enquire into the incident. The complaints have also been forwarded to the BHU’s proctorial board. We are investigating the matter, including some allegations of the performance being based on banned literature,” Mishra said.

The controversy over the play being staged in an official capacity has sparked reactions on social media, especially as BHU has been in the news over the last few months. The Vice Chancellor, Prof Girish Chandra Tripathi’s is known to be close to the Rashtriya Sevak Sangh, and has been accused of saffronisation of the BHU campus, The allegation gained widespread media attention after a girl students were lathi charged for protesting against an incident of molestation on campus.

The fact that the controversial play was allowed to be staged and was even well received has once again brought the saffronisation of campuses question into the limelight.

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