Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Canada’s UBC cancels journalist event on farmers’ movement: Pressure from Sikh activists at play?

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Canada’s University Of British Columbia (UBC) has cancelled Harjit Kaur Sidhu Memorial Program 2021, in which journalist Hartosh Singh Bal, Political Editor at Caravan Magazine was slated to deliver an address on the topic of ‘Perspectives on the Farmer’s movement in India 2020-21 on April 7, 2021. The university website has put up notice stating that the lecture has been cancelled.

Even though the university has reassured students that the lecture will be rescheduled and announced in due course, UBS alumnus Aadil Brar has pointed out that the lecture has been cancelled under pressure from radical Sikh elements in British Colombia. Expressing how this sets a wrong precedent, Aadil added that he would be writing a letter as an alumnus to UBC in protest.

In a conversation with The Print, Hartosh Singh Bal further alleged that the event has been cancelled amid pressure from SSA (Sikh Students Association). Bal expressed that he received an invitation by the university to speak on farm laws through WhatsApp. He was later informed that the event had to be cancelled due to pressure from SSA. Meanwhile, many went ahead to draw links between farm laws and the article written by him on KPS Gill years back.

Further questioning the university’s norms on free speech, Hartosh added, “What is important to note is, how does a university operate like this? What norms are there for free speech or whether there are any norms.”

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