Karnataka college withdraws notice mandating students to watch ‘The Kerala Story’

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A private college in Karnataka has withdrawn a circular mandating students to watch The Kerala Story after a group of writers and activists wrote to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah criticising the move, reported The Hindu.

Keshav C Das, the principal of Sri Vijay Mahantesh Ayurvedic College in Bagalkot district, had on Tuesday instructed all Bachelor of Ayurveda Medicine and Surgery students and postgraduate students to watch the film at a theatre in Ilkal city the next day.

The students were informed that the movie would be screened free of cost from 12 noon to 3 pm that day and classes would only be held from 9 am to 12 noon.

The film, directed by Sudipto Sen, was released on May 5. It claims to depict how women from Kerala were converted to Islam and recruited by the Islamic State terrorist group. The filmmakers initially claimed that 32,000 women from Kerala had joined the Islamic State, but when asked for evidence, they altered the trailer to state that the movie was a “compilation of the true stories of three young girls”.

After the circular was issued on Tuesday, a group of 25 writers and activists wrote to Siddaramaiah seeking action against the college management and Das, reported The Hindu.

“What is the need for the compulsory and free screening of a controversial film that is based on false narratives and that is aimed at creating hatred and dividing society,” members of an organisation named Jagruta Nagarikaru Karnataka said in the letter. “There is no doubt that such efforts are aimed at fanning communal passions.”

The Ilkal unit president of the Students Islamic Organisation of India, Aseef Hunachagi, complained about the circular to the deputy commissioner of Bagalkot, Tahshildar of Hungund and MLA Vijayanand Kashappanavar.

Das later announced that the notice was withdrawn around 11.30 pm on Wednesday. “Students did not attend the screening and attended their afternoon classes as usual,” he added, according to The News Minute.

The principal also apologised for issuing the notice and said that his decision to cancel classes was unlawful. “I am extremely sorry, and such things will not happen in future,” he said.

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