Asst. Prof Sandeep Wathar faced the wrath of students for writing anti-India posts on his Facebook page, while praising Pakistan PM Imran Khan for which ABVP was falsely targeted
When the entire nation has been steadfast in its support for the government and armed forces for their punitive actions against terror launch pads and Pakistan for aiding and abetting terrorism, many in the name of liberalism have gone to the extent of adopting a pro-Pakistan stand in the name of opposing PM Modi and the government. In many instances, including in Karnataka, the police have arrested several miscreants for raising pro-Pakistan and Jihadi slogans on social media and elsewhere in the aftermath of the cowardly Pulwama attack on CRPF. At least 7 people have been booked across Karnataka for posting anti-national content on social media. Many of these cases were brought to the notice of the local police by the student members of Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).
In a similar case, the students of a college had exposed a professor of a private engineering college in Karnataka who had praised Pakistan and posted anti-national posts on his Facebook account in the backdrop of IAF’s airstrikes on the terror organisation JuD’s bases in Balakot. The professor in question, Sandeep Wathar is an Assistant Professor of Civil engineering at Dr PG Halakatti College of Engineering and Technology in Vijayapura. ABVP sources tell us that the professor is known for his anti-Hindu and anti-BJP stand and many of his posts in the past have been against Hindus, BJP and PM Modi. A known Communist supporter, his earlier posts, many of which have even abused PM Modi and BJP, were not a major concern as it was his personal opinion. But what angered students this time was his anti-national posts and praising Pakistan.
On February 27, the said Professor had written a post abusing ‘bhakts’. His now-deleted post read, “Who sounds more intelligent in all this? You **** all bhakts. You will be the reason for the destruction of millions of lives if this tension escalates. BJP is **** all party absolutely zero shame.” In another post earlier, which has also been deleted, he had praised Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan.
A student on condition of anonymity says that none had any issues with his political posts or anti-BJP/anti-Modi posts. But many had complained about his anti-Hindu posts on social media, but the college authorities had not taken any action against him. However, in this instance what angered many were his anti-National posts, calling strikes as warmongering and praising Pakistan in the garb of expressing his anti-BJP views. Incidentally, the ABVP had organised many events to congratulate the IAF and our defence forces on its action against Pak based terrorists in many parts of the state. Students and common citizens from all walks of life had willfully participated in these events to honour the martyrs of Pulwama attack and compliment the military actions later. The mood of the state like that of the nation was entirely in tune with that of the defence forces and its operations.
However, in such a scenario the anti-national post of the professor which went viral had angered students of all hues, irrespective of political or organisational affiliations. Students who protested against the post were not members of the ABVP nor were the protests spearheaded by it. The widespread anger against the professor resulted in demands for his apology and suspending him from the college and university. Protests by students were held in the college premises against the professor’s post. The college management did not take much cognisance of the issue, and the students demand for several days.
On March 2, when the protests grew larger, students and many concerned citizens registered their protest against the college. The college authorities had promised action but did not do much to assuage the student emotions. The demonstrations online and on the ground grew larger by the hour. It was then that the professor himself who volunteered to apologise in front of the college out of fear that he might be suspended or students anger could spill out of control. The professor who came out in front of the protesting students apologised for his posts and promised not to repeat it. However, the images and videos that are being circulated by sections of the media have given a twist to the incident by blaming the ABVP and portraying the professor as the victim when in fact it was the professor himself who volunteered to apologise, say students of the college.
ABVP leader from Vijayapura, Pruthvikumar spoke to Organiser and informed that “The ABVP had never demanded that the professor apologise or kneel in front of the college. He did it on his own out of fear of backlash. Certain media houses are tarnishing ABVP’s image on the instance of communist leaders here. It was a spontaneous reaction by common students of the college which led to the protest against his anti-National posts.” It can be recalled that many media outlets had reported that the ABVP forced the professor to kneel and apologise for his posts.
In a statement, the ABVP says, “ABVP categorically denies charges of making a professor apologise for his anti-BJP stand. We firmly believe everyone is open to have their own political inclination. However, to demean our nation or our forces, to side the enemy country and to influence your students through your anti-India posts is completely unacceptable and warrants an apology. It’s high time media houses start adhering to facts while reporting incidences and refrain from maligning ABVP to further their agenda.” The ABVP is a nationalistic student organisation, and it is present even in this college as it is present in thousands of colleges across the state. Presence of ABVP in the premises does not mean it is responsible for the actions of individual professors, says Pruthvikumar. ABVP Karnataka had tweeted that “ABVP being a responsible student organisation, condemns the Anti-National statement given by Sandeep Vatara. We stand with National Security of our country, and we are proud of the Indian Army. And we are not a student wing of any political party #NationFirst”.
ABVP leader Pruthvikumar informs us that the professor was opposed to Hindu festivities, celebrations in his department. He had stopped celebrations of Ganesha festival and Ayudha Pooja too in the Civil Engineering department despite the wishes of the students. He boasts of contacts in the national media and tries to arm-twist anyone who opposes his anti-Hindu views, says Pruthivikumar.
Though the professor apologised owing to widespread anger among the students for his anti-national posts, the college administration has not initiated any action against the professor yet. The professor who laid low for a few days is back to his old ways due to the support he enjoys from the Communist leaders in the district say ABVP leaders. They also inform that abetted by the communist leaders; the professor is planning to foist false case against ABVP to cover his misadventure and ignominy he faced due to his public apology. The ABVP is adopting a wait and watch strategy and promises to initiate legal action if anyone tries to tarnish its image or make false accusations.