The chief of India’s state-run journalism school IIMC today defended his move to allow a ‘yajna’ on campus, asserting that he need not be taught secularism. Director General K G Suresh also rebuffed criticism over the invite to the controversial ex-Bastar IGP SRP Kalluri for a media seminar today. “Why should I stop him. Why not Kalluri. He is coming to the event amid press people, and they will question him,” he said. Kalluri, during his tenure as the Bastar IGP, was at the centre of controversies for his alleged high-handed style and human rights violations in the Naxal-affected region. On the decision to conduct a 2 hour-long ‘yajna’ on campus ahead of the seminar on ‘National Journalism in the Current Perspective: Media and Myth’, Suresh said other religions too had the liberty to perform their respective rituals. The event, since it was announced, has attracted criticism various quarters on social media. Asserting that he need not be “taught secularism”, the DG sought to defend the move saying that it was only in India that such rituals were conducted.
“Because of the ritual, there was talk that secularism of the country was in danger. But fools have to know that in the past we had accommodated all the religions in the country,” said Suresh in his address in the seminar. “Lighting lamps in an event, Bhoomi Pooja (prayer to land) happen everywhere, why not this? Even Muslims can perform Namaz, Sikhs can take up their rituals on the campus,” he added. Suresh also alleged that a section of media was behaving like “mafia” and was tagging reporters as “Sanghis”. “I just reported on work taken up by the RSS in certain incidents and later was tagged a Sanghi,” Suresh said. Meanwhile, a section of students of the institute staged a demonstration outside the campus for the holding of the ‘yajna’ and the invite to Kalluri, besides allegedly denying them entry into the campus. The JNU Students’ Union too joined the protest. Delhi police and security personnel were deployed outside the campus since early morning. Police officials who barricaded the gates said the institute was closed for the day.