“We, the undersigned academics and activists, express our deep concern over the public heckling, intimidation and abuse directed at Dr Ravi Kant, Associate Professor of Hindi and well-known Dalit intellectual, at the premises of Lucknow University by a crowd believed to be university students as well as foreigners Highly confrontational and inflammatory slogans, which included death threats against Dr. Ravi Kant, were shouted, and the Hindi department of the University was surrounded. Dr. Ravi Kant was forced to take refuge in the office of the supervisor of the university for several hours. The apparent reason for this protest was remarks he made during a discussion on the channel online well-known Satya Hindi, about the Gyan Vapi Mosque in Varanasi, in which he quoted a story about its origins told by Patabhi Sitaramaiya in his book ‘Feathers and Stones’. Dr. Ravi Kant, while making this reference, was careful to point out that this account could only be called a “story”, as its author did not cite any supporting source. Nevertheless, less than twenty-four hours after these remarks, a maliciously edited excerpt of his comment was circulated online which, the following morning, snowballed into a violent protest that created a serious threat to the safety of Dr. Ravi Kant.
We are deeply distressed by Dr. Ravi Kant’s continued bullying and manipulation of his comments, despite his clarification of the context of his reference to this story and even his expression of regret for any harm the incident may have caused those misled by the video clips circulating online. Even after Dr. Ravi Kant was finally allowed to leave the Proctor’s office and return home, there was talk of initiating disciplinary proceedings against him. Comments he made on social media expressing fear for his life while surrounded by crowds are wanted to be used against him, and the risk of physical harm to him and his family is far from over. . As human beings, we are appalled that anyone should spend even a minute in such peril, but our horror is doubled by the fact that these conditions of violence and intimidation prevail in a university , which must be a place where the spirit is free from fear and the head is held high, where knowledge is free, where critical examination of opinions and ideas is the norm, and where violence and intimidation should have no no space.
We express our solidarity with Dr Ravi Kant and urge the authorities of Lucknow University to ensure that those responsible for this attack on him are brought to justice so that the ideals of what a university stands for are reaffirmed with vigor on the campus. Above all, we demand credible assurances from the university administration and UP government that Dr. Ravi Kant and his family will be protected from further harassment or intimidation.”