The capital’s premier St Xavier’s College on Tuesday called off its ongoing annual fest, Xavier Utsav, on orders of Ranchi University VC Ramesh Pandey after state BJP spokesperson Pratul Nath Shahdeo told the VC that the institution was hosting entertainment events at a time the nation was grieving the Pulwama terror attack.
On Tuesday evening itself, XISS, another Xaverian institute near the college on Purulia Road, voluntary called off its annual fest Panache scheduled from Wednesday, postponing it to March 9. XISS cited the Pulwama tragedy as the reason.
Earlier in the day, BJP spokesperson Shahdeo, along with party leader Sanjay Agrawal, reportedly told VC Pandey that college authorities had been ignoring repeated requests to stop hosting songs and dances as part of the fest.
The VC is learnt to have spoken to St Xavier’s College principal Father Emmanuel Barla over phone to say the institution would be perceived in a bad light if it held music, dance and ramp walks at a time the nation was in mourning.
This paper could not contact Pandey or Barla independently, though a varsity official confirmed the VC had spoken to the college principal. “The VC told the principal to stop the event (Xavier Utsav) to respect national sentiment,” he said. A college teacher also confirmed the three-day fest that started on Monday had been stopped.
“Our fest was originally supposed to start on February 16 but we postponed it to Monday owing to the Pulwama attack. Nation and national sentiment come first. Respecting the martyrs, we have decided to postpone the programme. We will see whether we can organise the fest after a few months,” said the teacher who declined to be named.
On Monday, around two dozen youths from rightwing groups protested outside the gates of St Xavier’s College, demanding the annual fest be postponed in the wake of the Pulwama attack. Police intervened and the college authorities agreed to remove all banners and posters regarding the fest and keep it low-key without song-and-dance events.
Speaking to this paper, Shahdeo alleged the college administration had continued with songs and dances as part of the fest on Tuesday morning despite its assurances to the contrary on Monday.
“Students (of St Xavier’s) are very sensible, they share the mood of the nation, but it seems college authorities forced them to participate in them. We brought this matter to the notice of VC who intervened,” he said.