Kanhaiya barely a welcome guest in Maharashtra

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Mumbai/Pune, April 22 (IANS) Police have imposed stringent restrictions as several right-wing groups plan to ‘welcome’ Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union President Kanhaiya Kumar’s with protests during his much awaited Mumbai and Pune tour this weekend.

Kumar is scheduled to attend a conclave to discuss higher education students’ issues, leftists, Dalits, freedom of speech and other matters along with a galaxy of activists-speakers in both cities.

The Left, students and youth organizations encountered their first hurdle when a school of Janata Shikshan Sanstha, Worli refused permission for the event at the last minute, forcing them to shift it to Tilak Nagar in north-east Mumbai, said All India Students Assoiation national Joint Secretary Abhilasha S.

“The police virtually pressurized the school management which had earlier granted us permission for the event. Stringent conditions have been imposed by the city police for the event on grounds of security and safety of the students,” Abhilasha told IANS.

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The other invitees at the event are JNUSU vice-president Shehla Rashid, Hyderabad Central University Students Union leaders K.P. Zuhil, HCU Ambedkar Students Association leader Prashant Donpha, Allahabad University Students Union leader Richa Singh, and FTII Students Union leader N. Harishankar, secularist activist Teesta Setalvad and activist Ram Puniyani.

Besides a cultural show by students from Mumbai and Kolhapur, there will be a documentary on the students’ movement in the country in last two years directed by Anand Patwardhan at the five-hour long programme.

The Progressive Students Youth Action Committee has also faced difficulties for their separate programme on Sunday, with the police demanding fire and structural safety audit of the venue in Rashtra Seva Dal, said one of the organizers Girish Phonde.

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Phonde alleged the concerned authorities were using “pressure tactics” to deny permission for Kumar’s rally, but the organizers were prepared to shift it to an alternate venue.

In Pune, Kumar is likely to interact with the students of the FTII who had gone on a marathon 139-day strike last year.

Several rightist groups and activists have warned of protests and retaliation if the JNUSU leader — currently slapped with sedition charges — makes any anti-national or seditious statements.

Incidentally, on April 14, when Kumar arrived for his first visit to Maharashtra in Nagpur for a function as part of 125 anniversary of B.R. Ambedkar, his vehicle was stoned and a shoe aimed at him besides huge protests by rightist activists.

However, police have assured All India Youth Federation of adequate security to Kumar’s event.

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