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Lucknow Literary Festival cancelled after Yuva Vahini & BJYM protest Kanhaiya’s presence

Atul Chandra | Updated on: 12 November 2017, 3:31 IST
(Karun Sharma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Hindu Yuva Vahini, an outfit created by Yogi Adityanath, allegedly forced organisers to cancel the Lucknow Literary Festival as former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar was an invitee. He was to speak on his book From Bihar to Tihar. Another participant at the event was All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen president Asaduddin Owaisi.

Supposedly under pressure from the Yuva Vahini, the district administration withdrew permission for the event.

The hooligans from HYV created such a ruckus at the venue Sheroes, a restaurant in Gomtinagar, which is run by acid attack victims that the police had to be called in.

The Gomtinagar police circle officer said there were some outsiders who gathered outside the venue raising “Kanhaiya Kumar Go Back” slogans and called him “anti-national”.
The acid attack victims’ repeated pleas with folded hands did not have any impact on the trouble-makers. The organisers and the attack victims formed a protective wall around Kanhaiya Kumar when the situation began to turn ugly.

The literary festival was inaugurated by Aziz Qureshi, former Governor of Uttarakhand. He stayed through the ruckus and until police moved in and forced the organisers to call off the event.

Cine actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha was also present on the occasion. He was there with the Bharti Pradhan who has written the BJP MP’s biography Anything Else but Khamosh.

Critical of his party’s leadership, Sinha said that having a Class XII pass as HRD minister and a lawyer as a finance minister speaks volumes about the party leaders’ mindset.

He also criticised demonetisation and the hasty GST rollout saying that they brought misery to the people.

Sinha also assailed his party bosses for sidelining senior leader LK Advani.

District magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma said that the permission was withdrawn because the organisers had not given any information about participation of politicians and that speeches will be made. Permission for a book exhibition was also withdrawn.

The district magistrate also took the plea that the permission was withdrawn in view of the local bodies’ elections as the model code of conduct was in force. “As we had no knowledge that leaders and actors had been invited to the festival, security arrangements were not made,” the DM is reported to have said.

Event organizer Shamim Arzoo said that the DM had not assigned any reason for withdrawal of permission. “I was told that since I have violated rules, my permission was being withdrawn. But the DM did not specify which rules I had flouted,” Arzoo said.

Arzoo had earlier expressed the hope that the festival would continue as he had the required permission for the two-day event.

Kanhaiya Kumar said that he was asked by the police to leave the stage. “I told the police to arrest me if I have violated any law,” he said while condemning the heckling.

Kumar said he was in Lucknow on a literary platform and not a political one and the ideological differences could have been communicated in a peaceful manner. He also asked why the BJP government at the Centre and in states had not filed any charge-sheet against him.

The protesters allegedly included Aman Pandey and Vaibhav Vajpayee of Bharatiya Janata Party Yuva Morcha. They said that people like Kanhaiya were a threat to the country’s sovereignty and insisted that they won’t allow Kanhaiya to speak under any circumstances.

First published: 12 November 2017, 3:31 IST