In a gross violation of protocol and etiquette with brazen display of arrogance, Islamo-Leftist historian Irfan Habib heckled Kerala Governor Shri Arif Mohammad Khan when the latter spoke in support of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The Governor was replying to the anti-CAA propaganda of Leftist historians at the 80th inaugural session of the Indian History Congress held at the Kannur University on December 29, 2019.
In a series of tweets, Arif Mohammad Khan said that historian Irfan Habib and a few other others tried their best to stop him from speaking. Irfan Habib disrupted the inaugural address and questioned the right of Kerala Governor to speak about the CAA. Giving a befitting reply to the intolerant Habib, Shri Arif Mohammad Khan said that no one could shut him down as he has every right to respond to the false allegations about the CAA.
After delegates protested against him, the Governor said that he had heard them quietly so they must hear what he has to say. The Urban Naxals and Islamist elements under the garb of delegates created a ruckus when Shri Arif Mohammed Khan began to explain the features of CAA, seeking to bust the Leftist propaganda. They ran towards the Governor shouting slogans.
The event witnessed a series of protocol violations as the state intelligence and police completely failed to thwart the pre-planned protests of Leftists and Islamists. Irfan Habib's speech was not listed in the programme. With the connivance of the organisers of the event, Habib made several attempts to disrupt the speech of the Governor. When the Governor quoted Moulana Abul Kalam Azad in his speech, Habib heckled the Governor by shouting the name of Godse. He pushed Honorable Governor's ADC and Security Officer when they tried to stop Habib from manhandling Arif Mohammed Khan. Unfortunately, the police on duty remained a mute spectator.
In addition, IHC general secretary Mahalakshmi invited unlisted speakers from audience to deliver political speeches in the presence of the Governor. Later, Mahalakshmi was seen joining Habib in shouting at the Governor. Even though the security officers told the organisers to remove Habib from the stage, the order was snubbed.
Five Protocol Violations Flagged by Raj Bhavan
- Normally, one hour is the duration of the Governor's programme but as per the request of the organisers, it has been extended to 1.25 hours. However, the Governor was invited for the speech after 1.50 hours.
- As per the protocol, the Governor is supposed to speak at the end. However, he was invited first at the IHC event. Moreover, when he approached the podium to deliver his speech, he was called back by the organisers!
- Irfan Habib spoke at the event without permission. In a gross violation of protocol, History Congress general secretary Mahalakshmi Ramakrishnan invited two odd people from the audience to speak on stage in the presence of the governor.
- Irfan Habib heckled the governor and attempted to stall the Governor's speech. In a security breach, the Governor’s ADC was pushed away. IHC general secretary Mahalakshmi shouted at the Governor. Even though the security officers ordered the organisers to remove Irfan Habib from the stage, the order was not executed.
- In an intelligence failure, the audience sitting in the front row protested and raised placards.
Speaking to media, the Governor later told that he actually came up with a prepared text and was not going to speak on the CAA protests. He further explained that he was forced to respond as some speakers before him had mentioned about the CAA. Most of the speakers including Irfan Habib, who were not on the list of speakers, had made anti-constitutional remarks about the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Following the incident, the Governor had summoned the Chief Secretary, Director General of Police, and the ADGP Intelligence to Raj Bhawan and sought their explanation.
"I would not have spoken on this issue if it had not been raised. Since you raised it, you are making political statements. I am under oath to protect, preserve and defend the Constitution", Governor later told the media. “If somebody speaks against the law, it is my constitutional duty to defend it, he added.
Eminent Historian and former chairman of ICHR Dr M G S Narayanan has said that dramatic protest staged against Governor Arif Mohammad Khan at the Indian History Congress was a pre-planned one. “Placards and other materials were prepared beforehand and what I can gather is that the whole protests were planned much earlier,” said MGS Narayanan.
Noted scholars, academicians and intellectuals across the state have condemned the Leftist hooliganism against Honourable Governor. In a statement, they demanded for strong legal action against the ruffians who physically attacked the Governor and insulted the National Anthem. “We strongly vindicate the Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan who said that when delegates shut the door for debate and discussion, they are promoting violence. We, the academic community, strongly condemn the barbarism and hooliganism by the Indian History Congress delegates which threatens our academic transparency and scholarship paving the way for Stalinism and violence. We appeal to all the peace loving and democratic people to strongly condemn this uncivilised attempt and extend support to the Honorable Governor,” read the statement.