April 2017
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No room in India for intolerant Indians: President Pranab Mukherjee
(Kochi, March,02,2017): Amid the ongoing debate over the freedom of expression in the wake of violent clashes in Delhi University's Ramjas College+ , President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday said that "there must be space for legitimate criticism and dissent."

"Those in universities must engage in reasoned discussion and debate rather than propagate a culture of unrest. It is tragic to see them caught in the vortex of violence and disquiet," the President said while delivering the 6th KS Rajamony Memorial Lecture on the topic "India@70" on Thursday in Kochi, Kerala.

Asserting that freedom of speech and expression+ is guaranteed to every Indian by the Constitution, the President said: "There should be no room in India for the intolerant Indian".

Ramjas College+ had recently witnessed largescale violence between members of the AISA and the ABVP. The genesis of the clash was an invite to JNU students Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid to address a seminar on 'Culture of Protests', which was withdrawn by the college authorities following opposition by ABVP.

President Pranab said our premier institutions of higher education are vehicles on which India should propel itself into a knowledge society and added that these temples of learning must resound with creativity and free thinking.

The President also cautioned law makers never to take people for granted. "They (law makers) must focus on the fundamental task of law making and raising of issues of concern to the people. The trust placed by the people in the political system and those elected should not be betrayed," he said.

Talking about violence against women in society, the President said that "when we brutalize a woman, we wound the soul of our civilisation". "The trust placed by the people in the political system and those elected should not be betrayed," he said.

"A sense of national purpose and patriotism alone can lift our nation on to the road of sustained progress and prosperity," he added.

Clashes erupted in Delhi University campus on February 21 when the ABVP forced the cancellation of a seminar at Ramjas College over the participation of a controversial JNU student.

The next day, ABVP activists were blamed for attacking students, teachers and journalists in the campus, triggering widespread condemnation.

Lady Shri Ram College student Gurmehar Kaur then launched a social media campaign against the ABVP, only to face death and rape threats. On Tuesday, she left Delhi for Punjab, saying she was pulling out of the campaign.

While her college teachers, fellow students and family have stood by her, she did not speak to the media on Wednesday at Jalandhar, where the Punjab Police deployed two women constables for her protection.

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