New Delhi: Teachers and students of different colleges of Delhi University on day took to the streets condemning the varsity's decision to remove A K Ramanujan's essay on Ramayana, with some dubbing it a "fascist" move while pro-BJP outfit labelling it as an "attack" on academic freedom.

The group comprising representatives from pro-Left organisations, academics of history and other subjects and students took out a protest march starting from the Arts Faculty and touching colleges like Kirorimal, Hindu and St Stephens before concluding at the office of the Vice-Chancellor to whom a memorandum was submitted.

Carrying placards that read 'Resist Saffronisation of Higher Education' and 'Mr VC Stop Implementing the Dictates of the Right Wing Goons', the protesters shouted slogans against what they called an "attack" on history.

"This is a very scary and an extremely frightening moment for us. This has set in place a precedent that is fearsome," said History Prof Sunil Kumar on the University Academic Council's recent decision to remove the essay 'Three Hundred Ramayanas' from History syllabus.

DUTA Executive member Abha Dev Habib said they were planning to write to the Minister for Human Resource Development as also to the Visitor of the University in the coming weeks on the issue.

"We ask what is the MHRD doing? Why do we vote for Congress if it is no better than BJP as far as our academic freedom is concerned," she said.

The essay, which offers a number of tellings of the epic story of Lord Rama, including the Jain, Buddhist and Kannada narratives, had not gone down well with sections of the right
wing, some of whom called it "blasphemous" and hurtful of sentiments of the Hindus.

In a press conference held just after the protest, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, which had in 2008 first raised objections to the inclusion of the essay, accused 'Left-wing historians and their cohorts' of double standards and questioned whether they would protest in the same way if a text hurts sentiments of another community.

"We have not sought a ban on the essay. We have only asked for removing the compulsion to read it as a prescribed text. If some students still want to read it, they are free to go the library to do so," said Parveen Garg, State president of ABVP, who teaches at Swami Sharddhanand College.

(Agencies)