VC bars Kerala University students union from naming arts festival 'Intifada'

Kerala university arts fest poster

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala University Vice-Chancellor Prof. Mohanan Kunnummal on Monday barred the varsity's students' union from naming its arts festival 'Intifada'. The VC had received a complaint that the festival name was inappropriate as it was linked to the Palestine-Israel war. The VC had ordered the registrar to conduct a probe on the matter and submit a report.

First-year degree student A S Ashish from Kollam's Anchal had approached the Kerala High Court with a plea to rename the festival. He had pointed out that though he had filed a complaint with the governor and vice-chancellor seeking direction to change the name, no action was taken. After considering the plea, the HC sent a notice to the governor, VC and the students' union.

“The arts festival aims to promote art forms like Bharathanatyam, Kuchippudi, Mohiniyattam, Kathakali, Mappilappattu, folk dance, patriotic song, Ottamthullal, quiz and drawing among the youngsters. But this time, the students' union has selected a disturbing name for the event. 'Intifada', the Arabic word means 'shake off'. Palestinians had used this word calling for a rebellion. They have used this word to indicate conflicts with Israel. 'Intifada' is a term that is historically connected to terrorist groups such as Hamas,” reads the petition.

In the plea, Ashish also questioned the union's decision to choose a logo featuring Palestine scarf (keffiyah) on Israel's map and a tagline that reads 'defending invasions with art' for the arts fest. He argued that using these symbols would only divide the students.

The petitioner requested the court to ban the university union from using the name, logo and tagline. The festival is scheduled to be held from March 7 to 11.

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