“We Condemn The Attempt Of Bodies Like Deoband To Encroach On Our Academic Space” – Press Statement April 27, 2012:


It is a matter of deep distress that a threat from Darul Uloom Deoband has forced Prabha Parmar, a research scholar at the Chaudhary Charan Singh University to change the topic of her post-doctoral research: Use of magic and realism in the major novels of Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh and Vikram Seth. Taking strong exception to the UGC’s decision to award a post-doctoral fellowship to the scholar on a topic that included Rushdie’s writings, Darul Uloom Deoband demanded “immediate remedial steps to correct the high impropriety.” Terming the award an act of ‘glorification’ of Salman Rushdie, the seminary asked for the writer to be blacklisted and for the award to be cancelled with immediate effect.


The atmosphere of fear and intimidation created by this statement led Meerut University to cancel the fellowship. Later the scholar withdrew her research proposal.


This is yet another assault on the space of scholarship and free enquiry which represents the essential character of a university. In recent months there have been many instances of academic institutions succumbing to threats issued by religious and sectarian bodies and withdrawing texts and films or modifying syllabi or curricula to please them. The point at issue is not the controversial nature of the text, because freely debating such texts is the very purpose of intellectual inquiry. Rather, the crucial point is the climate of intimidation and the thinly-disguised threat of violence that informs the language of those making such demands. They constantly remind us that their sentiments are inflamed enough to spark off bloodshed. They crush the spirit of inquiry by intimidating those who disagree with them. They assume the fake title of representatives of this or that community to enforce their claims. And our spineless authorities allow them to do this with impunity. This time it is the Deoband ulema who have claimed yet another academic victim.


We condemn the attempt of bodies like Deoband to encroach on our academic space. It is time for all Indian academicians and intellectuals who believe in the freedom of thought to firmly defend our right to free enquiry and the pursuit of knowledge. We appeal to Meerut University and the UGC to stand by the scholar and encourage her to pursue her research on a topic of her choice.


Aditya Nigam, CSDS;  Amlan Dasgupta, Jadavpur Unv;  Aniket Alam, Senior Assistant Editor, Economic and Political Weekly;  Anita Cherian;  Apoorvanand , Professor, DU;   Arma Ansari, ANHAD;  Arshad Ajmal, Sahulat, Delhi;  Asha Bhagat;  Ashok Vajpeyi, poet, writer;  Biraj Patnaik, Right To Food campaign;  Dhruva Narayan, Managing Editor, Daanish Books;  Dilip Simeon;  Furqan Qamar, VC Central Unv of Himachal Pradesh;  Gauhar Raza, scientist, poet;  Gautam Bhan;  Harsh kapoor;  Irfan Khalifa, television journalist;  Ishwar Dost , Asst. Prof., CSSEIP, Goa University;  J Devika, Centre for development studies, Trivandrum, Kerala;  Jairus Banaji;  Jamal Kidwai;  Jyoti Punwani;  Jyotirmay Sharma;  Kausar Wizarat;  Kavita Panjabi, Fellow, Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla;  Kavita Srivastava, PUCL National Secretary;  Khairunnisa Pathan, Parwaaj;  Khurshid Anwar;  Mahmood Farooqui, Dastango;  Mahtab Alam, civil rights activist and journalist;  Manoj Mitta, Journalist;  Mary E John;  Mehtab Alam;  Moinak Biswas;  Momin Latif;  Mukul Sharma, Writer and Researcher;  Musab Iqbal, Editor,;  Naseem Mansuri, Niswan;  Naseem Shaikh, Niswan;  Nasiruddin Haider Khan, Journalist;  Naveen Kishore;  Nayanjot Lahiri professor, DU;  Nilanjana Gupta, Professor of English, Jadavpur University, Kolkata;  Nirantar, Resource Centre for Gender & Education;  Nivedita Menon, JNU;  Noorjahan Ansari, Niswan;  Noorjahan Diwan, ANHAD;  omair anas ,cwas/sis jnu;  Parthasarthi Bahumik, Jadavpur Unv;  Prof Rama Kant Agnihotri (Rtd., Univ of Delhi);  Purwa Bharadwaj;  Ramchandra Guha;  Rehana Qureshi, Nyayagrah;  Rohan D’Souza;  S.Irfan Habib, historian;  Satya Shivaramn;  Satish Deshpande, DSE, Delhi U;  Semeen Ali;  Shabnam Hashmi, social activist, Anhad;  Shakeel Shaikh, Ahmedabad;  Shamina Diwan, Parwaaj;  Sharifa Chhipa, Niswan;  Sheba George;  Sahr Waru, Gujarat;  Shivam vij, journalist, Delhi;  Shuddhabrata Sengupta, artist/writer;  Sohail Hashmi, Writer, Film Maker;  Sucheta Bhattacharjee; Usman Shaikh, Nyayagrah;  Waqar Qazi, Social Activist, Anhad, Gujarat;  Zafar Syed, banker, Mumbai.

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