BJP leader Shazia Ilmi was allegedly not allowed to speak at a seminar in Jamia Milia Islamia university to discuss the controversial triple talaq issue. The development comes amid the raging row over free speech and nationalism at Delhi University’s Ramjas College where members of RSS-backed ABVP are accused of violence over an invitation to JNU student leader Umar Khalid who was accused of sedition last year. The right-wingers label Khalid as an “anti-national”.
Jamia authorities have, meanwhile, denied pressuring the organisers. “The event was not organised by the university or any of its department. The auditorium was rented out to the organisers and in such events the varsity has nothing to do with either the subject or choice of the speakers. It was not our prerogative,” PTI quoted a Jamia spokesperson as saying.
The seminar at Jamia where Ilmi was invited as a speaker was organised by RSS supported Forum for Awareness of National Security (FANS) whose patron is BJP leader Indresh Kumar. It was supposed to be held on February 16 but was rescheduled to February 28 and the fresh list of speakers did not feature Ilmi’s name. The agenda of the event was discussion on the triple talaq issue. Later, the subject was changed into a discussion on empowerment of Muslim women. The event, it is learnt, faced protests with people terming the topics of the discourse as anti-Quranic.
Ilmi, a journalist, started her political career from the Aam Aadmi Party but crossed over to the BJP in 2015. She also accused the English press of bias and presenting a one-sided story, thereby managing to create a narrative against RSS-backed ABVP and BJP.
The BJP leader said there was a lot of pressure on the organisers of the seminar at Jamia. “First they changed the topic from triple talaq to women empowerment. Then they wanted me to be dropped from the speakers’ list. In the first initiation my name was there but in the second card my name was removed.”
“The organisers requested the authorities to allow them to invite me but they said no she will create a lot of
problems. I also learnt that students were gathered outside the programme venue to stop me from speaking at the event,” she added.
Programme convenor Shailesh Vats said, “We had finalised the speakers and the subject but then we were
advised by the university to make some changes saying the atmosphere in the universities is not conducive to have such a discussion.”