New Delhi: The 80th session of the Indian History Congress (IHC) was marred by controversy after Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan accused noted historian Irfan Habib of disrupting his speech when he was responding to questions on the amended Citizenship Act and Kashmir.
The noted historian, who is acting president and vice president of IHC, told News18, “It was not his (Khan) function. In fact, he disrupted ours. And if he wanted to speak against us, the IHC, and for the CAA, he could have organised his own event. The controversy started because our host, Kannur University, mixed up two things. Without consulting IHC, the university authorities organised their own programme based on what the governor wanted. He dictated that the Presidential address should be for over 30 minutes. Now to placate other political parties, the hosts also got politicians from the Left Front and Congress to speak. In complete disregard to IHC, they gave them time to speak.”
Habib said IHC has a constitution with norms and practices of history congress — there is a presidential address, welcome speech by secretary, distribution of prizes and so on. The local host is entitled to have an inaugural address, delivered by the vice chancellor or any other dignitary, he said.
“When we arrived we found the hall set like a detention camp. It was divided into four parts and it was barricaded so that only delegates are allowed inside. For the first time, we saw police at IHC. It has never happened, not even when the President of India comes. It was I think to protect the governor,” Habib said.
Academics present at the event spoke about how their hearts go to their colleagues in Kashmir and also feel anxious about the effects of the new Citizenship Act.
Later, when Khan spoke in favour of CAA, he faced protests, following which he started quoting Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. He said, “Azad said that with Partition, the dirt has gone, but after the protests here, I think some dirty water has remained in the pond.”
Soon after, Habib told Khan, “Why are you quoting Gandhi and Azad, you should be quoting (Nathuram) Godse.”
The historian said, “That is a manufactured quote of Azad. He didn’t call the Indian Muslims dirty water in the pond. Khan is giving the lines that are published in Pakistan, but his works published in India don’t call Indian Muslims dirty. I was there when Azad delivered the speech in a meeting in 1948. Khan was telling us, Indian Muslims, we are dirty water in the pond. How would you respond to this?”
The IHC resolution has said the Kerala government must not communicate the identities of students detained to any central agencies. It condemned imposition of withdrawal of internet in Kashmir and arrest without trial.