St Stephen’s principal Valson Thampu has claimed that he was “advised” by some “boys” against taking the stand he has adopted in connection with his banning of a student e-zine and was also warned of the “terrible consequences” that could follow.
In yet another open letter, he said, “I was advised in the recent Weekly media-quake… that unless I did the bidding of the boys, the consequences could be terrible. It was a well -meaning piece of advice. I did think of it, seriously and for long.
“Given the issues involved (what they are, I cannot detail, the matter being sub judice) I felt that, while I needed to respect the good intentions behind the advice –- given wholly for my sake — I was also duty-bound to consider its consequences for the college.”
Thampu has been referring to a group of alumni members who have been critical of his actions in the present episode, as ‘old boys’.
“When a person’s advice is not accepted as it is, that person feels slighted. The more distinguished the adviser is, the greater the indignation.
“The plight of the man who is thus advised is completely overlooked. He receives a host of instructions, often contrary ones. There is no way he can obey them all. While he must listen to all, he must, in the end, decide for himself,” he said.
The principal has also said that the row over the e-zine was ‘blown out of proportion’ by a “few cry babies spanning out into the public, beating their breasts like cosmic drums”.
He also claimed that he has been offered such “advice” on several occasions during his seven-year tenure at St Stephen’s, but had decided against accepting them “for the benefit of college”.
“I am glad to be advised. Please give me the freedom, if you don’t mind, to be faithful to the college with due application of mind.
“Please don’t rob me of my freedom to think, in the name of free thinking; especially when the charade involved had nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with free thinking,” he says concluding his letter.
Thampu had last month ordered the suspension of an e-zine, St Stephen’s Weekly, started by four students, for allegedly not seeking clearance on its content before the release of an edition.
The move had invited criticism from reputed college alumni, including former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) SY Quraishi and former Delhi Lokayukta, Justice (retd) Manmohan Sarin, who had requested Thampu to reconsider a decision that was termed ‘extreme’ and ‘disproportionate’.
Later, while three of the students tendered an apology, the editor, Devansh Mehta, refused to do the same. The college then suspended Mehta for 10 days on disciplinary grounds, but the student secured a stay on the order from Delhi High Court.