Calling the move “undemocratic” and one that “curbs the rights of free speech and expression”, Principal Shah tendered his resignation. Vice-Principal Mohanbhai Parmar followed suit
The principal of Ahmedabad’s HK Arts College, Hemantkumar Shah, resigned on February 12 as his decision to invite Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani as chief guest was overturned by the trustees of the college.
Independent MLA from Vadgam and a strong critic of the ruling BJP government in Gujarat, Mevani is an alumnus of the college and was invited to hand over prizes to students during the annual function.
However, citing opposition to Mevani by a section of students, the college trustees refused permission for the event, which ultimately led to cancellation.
Amrish Shah, secretary of the college trust, told Hindustan Times, “The trust has nothing against Mevani, but it got the sense that going ahead with the programme might spoil the atmosphere. The trust will not allow anything on campus that threatens this.”
Calling this move “undemocratic” and one that “curbs the rights of free speech and expression”, principal Shah tendered his resignation. Vice-Principal Mohanbhai Parmar followed suit.
In his resignation letter, Shah alleged that “the trust surrendered to the demands of the BJP-affiliated student leaders of the Gujarat University, who threatened that if Jignesh Mevani attends, the event would not be allowed”, threatening to create a ruckus even if there is police protection.
Arguing that the move was suppression of thought, especially because it’s an arts college, Shah said he has invited many ministers as chief guests, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and even Maya Kodani. “So why is this a problem?" he asked.
“I don’t mind if (BJP President) Amit Shah is invited to our college. But if Amit Shah is not prevented from speaking in the university, why did people not want a platform for someone who is an elected MLA from Vadgam?” Shah wrote in his letter.
Dismissing that his resignation was an attempt to be heroic, Shah said, “It is a murder of democracy, and to resign was not just the right thing, but the only thing one could do as the principal.”Meanwhile, Mevani accused “BJP goons” for threatening the trustees. “Because of threat calls made by BJP goons, trustees of H K Arts college, Ahmedabad I graduated from cancelled the annual function where I was invited as chief guest.Was going to talk about life and mission of Baba saheb. Salute to Principal Hemant Shah who resigned on moral ground,” he tweeted.
H K Arts College with prominent trustees like B V Doshi, R Chaudhary & K Desai (all Padma Awardees) are not standing up against the hooliganism of BJP and its student wing. This is a shameful day for freedom of speech and democracy. Strongly condemn this move. @CMOGuj shame on u
— Jignesh Mevani (@jigneshmevani80) February 11, 2019