Irani’s remarks on Mahishasur Diwas incorrect: Ex-JNU student

New Delhi: A former student of Jawaharlal Nehru University said on Friday that Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani’s remarks on commemoration of demon Mahishasur’s death by JNU students were “incorrect”.

“The event was organised in 2014 by the All India Backward Students’ Forum. Irani gave wrong information in parliament that it was organised by the leftist students. We do not belong to any left groups,” Anil Kumar, a former JNU student and one of the organisers of the said event, told IANS.

Kumar said that contrary to Irani’s claims that they were beaten up by activists of the left-aligned Students Federation of India, the event was disrupted back then by Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) supporters.

“Some BJP leaders are saying that you cannot do these things in the name of freedom of expression. We organised the event in the name of freedom of faith. Article 20 (of the Indian constitution) ensures us freedom of faith.

“Who are they (the government) or anybody to tell us not to follow Mahishasur or any other persona. I have the right to worship anyone,” he said.

Irani, during her speech in the Rajya Sabha, read a statement allegedly made by students belonging to the scheduled castes and tribes and minority community in the JNU about a deity.

“This event is definitely being used as a political tool. This event was organised by us in 2014 and now Smriti Irani is bringing it in parliament. In my view, the JNU is being branded as an anti-national hub,” Kumar added.

The festival has been held on the campus every October since 2011 to debate caste issues as a tribute to the demon king Mahishasur.

Communist Party of India-Marxist secretary general Sitaram Yechury on Friday questioned Irani’s speech in the Rajya Sabha on Mahishasur, saying, “Why are gods and demons being discussed in this house? Why is all this being brought up here and mayhem being created in the country?”