Bengaluru: Members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad forced a college lecturer in Vijayapura (formerly Bijapur) to kneel and apologise for posting a message on social media which they claimed was “anti-national”.
The lecturer, Sandeep Wathar, works at Dr P.G. Halakatti Engineering College in Vijayapura, which is run by a society owned by Karnataka home minister and Congress leader M.B. Patil, who also serves on its board of governors.
Referring to the rising tensions after the Indian Air Force bombed a Jaish-e-Mohammed camp in Balakot, Pakistan, Wathar in his post had allegedly praised Pakistan PM Imran Khan. The post was later deleted.
The video of the apology has been circulated on social media, and has gone viral. In the video, Wathar is seen kneeling and seeking forgiveness. This was done after the college authorities were pressurised by the ABVP to “convince” the lecturer to apologise publicly. “I am sorry. Forgive me for my Facebook post,” Wathar said.
Furthermore, ABVP members are also seen making him promise that he would not act similarly in future.
Calls for suspension, resignation and police action
ABVP members have demanded further action against Wathar.
“We demand that the college management immediately seek his resignation. He should be suspended from the college,” said Subodh Patil, a student from the college.
Amidst chants of ‘Vande Mataram’, an ABVP student leader addressed the media and said: “He is a teacher, he needs to guide people. If he propagates such kind of anti-national ideologies in class, it will be harmful for society. We have got him to apologise and now we have asked for him to be suspended from the college. The ABVP will decide its further course, if appropriate action is not taken.”
ABVP Karnataka state secretary Harsha Narayan said: “This incident sends a message that we will not tolerate anybody who writes or speaks against the nation. Wathar has made a statement not against an individual, but the whole nation, and so, we are hoping for a proper investigation in the case.”
Questioning home minister Patil’s intentions, Narayan asked: “He (Patil) can immediately initiate action, (so) why has he not done so? Why has the police not taken the case suo motu when they can do so?”
The video shows that a police constable was present alongside the college management when the ‘apology’ took place. Speaking to ThePrint, inspector general (northern range), H.G. Raghavendra Suhasa said it was an “individual incident” and the police attended to the case immediately.
“A lecturer from the college has written a statement on social media which the members of the VHP (sic) have found objectionable. There was some amount of arguments and altercations. The local police have attended to the incident and if there is a complaint from either party, we will take appropriate action. We have no reservation in taking up the complaint,” he said.
ThePrint tried contacting Patil for a reaction, but calls remained unanswered.