How much autonomous is Kashmir University?

Academics Question Censoring ‘Ocean Of Tears’


Srinagar, Dec 23: Kashmir University’s move to bar screening of a documentary film ‘Ocean of Tears’, directed by a Kashmiri filmmaker Bilal A Jan and produced by Public Service Broadcasting Trust, has raised serious questions over the autonomy of Valley’s ‘highest’ seat of learning.
 While the highly-placed sources, academics and scholars of the University say there was an ‘external hand’ to bar screening of the documentary last week, the officials say the 7-minute film had some ‘copyright issues’.
 On December 15, when Police barred screening of the Government of India-funded film, protests broke out in the campus with viewers and students slamming the J&K Government and Kashmir University authorities for ‘launching an attack’ on freedom of expression and speech.
 The documentary film, according to its director, was a portrayal of “nature of crimes committed against women in Kashmir and victims’ experience in the struggle against all forms of violence inflicted to them.”
 “This is a police state,” Jan had said. “The film is a depiction of reality of victims of conflict and crime. It is absurd that we were denied the right to screen a CBFC-certified film.” Jan had even paid a rent of Rs 20,000 for its screening at KU.
 The students of the University had also expressed displeasure over Police move to bar the screening of the documentary. “This is an open attack on freedom of expression and speech. If the film has already been certified by Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), denying its screening in the University is paranoia of authorities,” a postgraduate student, Abid Shafi said.
 A highly-placed source says the University administration found itself ‘helpless’ on December 15. “The decision to bar the film was not taken by Varsity administration alone. There was an external hand as well. The fact of the matter is that the University had provided space and time for film’s screening but the diktat came at an eleventh hour. The varsity administration just gave in,” he says.
 This, the University academics say, is enough evidence to gauge how much autonomous the Varsity is in dealing with its internal affairs and the relationship with various publics. “It was completely embarrassing to bar the screening of film at the eleventh hour. The filmmaker, hundreds of viewers and Varsity students were left disappointed. This is key evidence that University of Kashmir is a puppet institution,” an Associate Professor of the Humanities Department said, pleading not to be identified.
 He says; “Although no institution in Kashmir is autonomous, Kashmir University is being watched by Big Brother.”
 “Every seminar is recorded here. The speakers are never allowed to speak. The University, to go with the facts, has been unwilling so far to exercise whatever autonomy it has got,” he says.
 Registrar Kashmir University Prof Zaffar Ahmad Reshi said screening of the film was barred because of “copyright issues.” But he didn’t say who had registered the complaint.
 Superintendent of Police Hazratbal Abdul Qayoom had put the ball in Varsity’s court, saying “University itself barred the documentary.”

Lastupdate on : Sun, 23 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 23 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 24 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST

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