“We, undersigned academics and naming, express our deep concern regarding the public heckling, intimidation and abuse directed at Dr. Ravi Kant, Associate Professor of Hindi and well known Dalit intellectual, on the premises of Lucknow University by a mob allegedly comprising students of Highly divisive and incendiary slogans, which included threats to Dr Ravi Kant’s life, were raised, and the Dept of Hindi of the University was surrounded. Dr Ravi Kant was forced to take shelter in the University Proctor’s office for Several hours. book ‘Feathers and Stones’. Dr Ravi Kant, while making this reference, was careful to emphasize that this narrative could only be called a ‘story’, as its author did not c it any source in support. Intermediate, within less than twenty-four hours of these remarks, a maliciously edited extract of his comment was circulated online which, by the next morning, snowballed into a violent protest which has created a grave threat to Dr Ravi Kant’s safety.
We are deeply distraught by the continued intimidation of Dr Ravi Kant and the manipulation of his comments, despite his clarifications about the context of his reference to this story and even his expression of regret at any hurt that the incident may have caused to those misled by the video clips circulated online. Even after Dr Ravi Kant was finally allowed to leave the Proctor’s office and return home, there has been talk of instituting disciplinary proceedings against him. Comments that he made on social media expressing fear for his life when surrounded by the mob are being sought 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 have to spend even a minute in such peril, but our horror is doubled by the fact that these conditions of violence and intimidation obtain in a university, which must be a place where the mind is without 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 place whatsoever.
We express our solidarity with Dr Ravi Kant and urge the authorities of Lucknow University to ensure that the perpetrators of this attack on him are brought to book so that the ideals of what a university stands for are reasserted vigorously on the campus. Above all, we demand credible assurances from the university administration and the UP government that Dr Ravi Kant and his family will be afforded protection from any further harassment or intimidation.”