Mumbai/Wardha: After a furore, the central Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya in Wardha backtracked on Sunday and revoked its expulsion orders on six backward class research scholars.
The development came barely hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi was scheduled to address election rallies in Jalgaon and later in the neighbouring Bhandara-Gondiya districts, and just a day after the Maharashtra Congress raised the issue in a big way, condemning the expulsions.
As Congress state General Secretary Sachin Sawant submitted a letter to the Maharashtra Chief Electoral Officer, demanding action against varsity authorities, Wardha Collector Vivek Bhimanwar had on Saturday served show-cause notices to all the six scholars, summoning them for an explanation on October 16.
The Collector’s summons ostensibly followed as the varsity’s October 9 expulsion notices invoked grounds of “violation of Model Code of Conduct and interference in the judicial process” for penning postcards to the PM expressing concern over recent social, economic and communal issues in the country.
The students are Chandan Saroj, Rajnish Ambedkar, and Pankaj Wela (all Scheduled Castes) and Neeraj Kumar, Rajesh Kumar Yadav and Vaibhav Pimpalkar (Other Backward Classes).
Although the varsity Registrar issued the revocation letter on Sunday – when the varsity was closed – the scholars said it is not clear if they would be still required to submit explanation to the District Collector who later rescheduled their meeting for Monday.
Ironically, the action against the scholars took place in thr central university named after the Father of the Nation, in Wardha, which is considered his ‘karma-bhoomi’ and witnessed grand celebrations on his 150th birth anniversary last week.
The Maharashtra Congress has taken strong umbrage over the university’s “draconian” step against the scholars who hail from Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Castes as it would affect their educational careers.
“Their crime was that they wrote to the PM highlighting the grave social problems currently faced by our society. The action also indicated a partisan approach by the university because only six backward students were chosen for the punitive measure,” Sawant told IANS.
He informed the CEO of poll-bound Maharashtra that these students neither represented any particular political party nor were furthering any political agenda.
Sawant had also questioned if the Election Commission had authorized the university to initiate such suo-moto action against the students for the alleged violation of poll codes.
Political sources said on Sunday that the government had frowned on the varsity’s move coming ahead of the October 21 elections which could have adverse repercussions on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena in the state.
The stunned students told media persons on Friday that they had written to the PM on current and general issues like mob lynching incidents, targeting of depressed sections, the proposed sale of public sector undertakings like the railways and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd, the problems in various banks, and others.
One student told IANS on Sunday that the university authorities had found these letters objectionable and expelled them for joining “without permission” in a nationwide programme when liberals and civil society members had protested the slapping of sedition charges against 49 celebrities who had written to the Prime Minister.