Students’ wing and social groups condemn puja on Fergusson College campus

A section of the staffers, present during the protest, said the college was being “targeted” by people with vested political interest. A similar puja was also underway at Modern College on the same day, but it was completed peacefully.

Protests hit Fergusson College on Friday as various students’ wings and other social organisations condemned the Satyanarayan puja organised on the campus.The puja was carried out by the non-teaching staff of the college at the administrative office in the main building.

A notice announcing the puja, dated August 24, was put up at the main circle of the campus, triggering the controversy. “The puja is a routine affair that is held every year, initiated by the non-teaching staff. It has nothing to do with the academics. Earlier, it was held in the amphitheatre, but in recent years, we have shifted the same to the administrative office,” said a senior official from the college, who was seen talking to protesters and others till 4 pm.

Volunteers of National Students Union of India and Sambhaji Brigade protested against the puja and raised slogans on the campus on Friday. “Being a reputed national institute, it is wrong to promote or carry out such practices of a particular religion. There are students from all faiths as well as international students who study in this college. We condemn this puja,” said a leader from Sambhaji Brigade, who staged an hour-long protest outside the main building, holding equipment, barrels and beakers used in science laboratories.

Most students on the campus seemed unfazed by the controversy and some of them said it did not affect their regular lectures. “We have classmates from all faiths with us. A puja does not signify that a particular religion is being promoted,” said a second-year student of sociology on condition of anonymity.

A section of the staffers, present during the protest, said the college was being “targeted” by people with vested political interest. A similar puja was also underway at Modern College on the same day, but it was completed peacefully.

“The Satyanarayan puja, organised by the non-teaching staff, is a tradition in the college. It has been going on for 40 years. In the wake of a few groups taking objection to it this year, a review meeting, in consultation with the Deccan Education Society, will be convened,” stated Principal R G Pardeshi in an official statement issued late on Friday.

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