Stephen’s alumni stopped from attending prayer meet; Thampu denies charge

New Delhi, Feb 6 (IANS) Former students of St. Stephen’s College, including historian Ramchandra Guha, on Saturday alleged that they were stopped from entering the college premises to attend a prayer meeting for a man identified for generations with the iconic dhaba on the campus.

Principal Valson Thampu, however, denied the charge, saying no request was made to attend the prayer meeting and, therefore, no one could have been denied access.

Rohit Bansal, a former trustee of the St. Stephen’s College Alumni Foundation Trust who was among those who had gone to pay their tributes to Rohtas, said they were not allowed to go for the prayer meeting and were told to state a different purpose for the visit.

Rohtas’s dhaba sold samosas and gulab jamuns that generations of college alumni relished during their stay on the campus. The 65-year-old died on Tuesday due to TB and pneumonia.

Bansal said they went inside stating different reasons and a prayer meeting was finally held near the dhaba.

Bansal later tweeted: “Chief Economic Advisor of India @arvindsubraman, scholar @Ram_Guha among 100 prevented from attending #Rohtas prayer meeting at @cafessc.”

Guha said at the prayer meeting that they were not allowed to enter the college.

“It is extraordinary that Arvind Subramanian, who is the chief economic advisor, I am a well-known critic of Narendra Modi and Rinki (Rukmini Banerji), who heads Pratham… we have all come to pay tribute to Rohtas and we were not allowed to enter because there is a fascist who is scared that Rohtas is more popular than him,” Guha said.

Bansal said Rohtas had taken over the work at the dhaba from his father and generations of St. Stephen’s students had eaten out of their hands over the years, leading to a strong emotional connect.

“Rohtas was at the dhaba since he was a child,” Bansal said.

Thampu slammed those targeting him.

“No such request was made by anyone. Therefore, no one could have been denied access. Surely, if the aggrieved are the alumni of the college, they would know that the campus is not a no man’s land or public park,” Thampu told IANS.

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