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Sudden cancellation of scientist's lecture at IIMC sparks a row

Sudden cancellation of scientists lecture at IIMC sparks a row

New Delhi: Last minute cancellation of a lecture by scientist Gauhar Raza, who also made a documentary on the 2002 Gujarat riots, at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), has triggered a controversy but the government-run institute maintained that it was due to "purely administrative reason".

When contacted, Raza slammed the premier media institute for being "unprofessional" in its conduct by cancelling his session that was scheduled on April 7.

Raza, who is also a documentary film maker, however, said he did not have "sufficient data" to relate the cancellation to his having made a documentary on the Gujarat riots as reported in a section of the media.

"Even on April 6 evening they called me to arrange my travel for the session. But two hours later, around 8 PM, I got a call saying the session had been cancelled.

"They were giving evasive reasons for the cancellation. It was very weird, irritating and unprofessional," he said.

IIMC in a statement said that the cancellation of the inaugural session of the workshop, which was to be addressed by Raza, and the valedictory session on April 7 and 8, was in view of "official pre-occupations' of Director General Sunit Tandon.

"It was not based on any other considerations than the purely administrative reason cited," it said.

The institute said, "It is regrettable that an uncalled for interpretation has been put upon the cancellation of a proposed inaugural function of a workshop on 'Communicating Science and Bio-diversity'.

It added that the guests invited for both functions were informed that the events had been cancelled due to the aforesaid reason. "It is therefore inaccurate that this was done without giving a reason".

Raza further added that he was to deliver a lecture on how emergence of new data changes old conclusions in Science and was in touch with the authorities of the journalism institute since March 26.

"On April 1 I got the formal invite. So I don't have a formal conclusion on why it was cancelled at the last moment. It doesn't happen normally and has never happened to me in any national or international workshop," he said.

Raza, a chief scientist at the National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources in the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, was to address Group A officers of the Indian Information Services at IIMC.

The institute has been embroiled in controversy in the recent past over a campaign by a section of the students and the faculty on the issue of removing certain course directors over "erosion" in its academic quality.

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