Tarek Fatah No Longer a Speaker in TEDxPU: Ruffled in Midst of Student Politics or Islamist Propagation?


The fact being that all of us were looking forward to Panjab University’s very first TED Talk, it drains out half the essence to grasp the recent alleged attack on Tarek Fatah in Panjab University on November 30th, 2016, due to which he would no longer be a part of TEDxPU. There’s a lot of ambiguity surrounding this but so far there are two perspectives put forward– one by Mr. Harbir Singh and the other by the students sitting in the Physics canteen. Though both the parties share almost the same story, the light in which it is presented by both the sides, varies by 180 degrees.

Tarek Fatah, who recently was a guest and speaker in Literati 2016, was present in Panjab University to meet the TEDxPU organizers. In a post shared by Mr. Harbir Singh on Facebook, he claimed that the argument was initiated with the oncoming of a librarian and the apparent comparison of the actions of the librarian and Mr. Fateh. This led to the ego bruising of the librarian, who in turn took the decision to raise his voice and tell the two of them to mind their own business. Seeing this, a student from the surrounding fell into a shouting match, standing alongside the librarian. Here is the part where the two versions of the story fork.

According to Mr. Harbir, he asked the name of the student who had been arguing with Mr. Fateh, which turned out to be ‘Mustafa’. Here is what Mr. Harbir Singh wrote in his account after the name came out,
“I laughed. The cat was out of the bag!
Here was a Muslim who had sat amongst Hindus and watched a Hindu been caught and embarrassed about issues of inequality, the unfairness and indignity of hierarchy, the callousness of higher status (teacher, academic) towards the weaker (students), where the students could have learned something about the equality and dignity of all people, of the justice of equality.
Instead of speaking out in favor of equality and dignity and the cruelty and insulting attitudes of high Auqat towards the weak, he took the opportunity to support a swine of a Hindu against Tarek Fatah.”

This further led to more students adding to the crowd and standing up against the duo claiming that there should not be any distinction on the basis of religion. Seeing that the discussion wasn’t leading anywhere, Harbir Singh and Tarek Fateh decided that it would be for the best if they leave the campus premises for the time being. And thus the two got in the car and went away. Mr. Harbir Singh portrayed his sympathies to the students who organised TED Talk and were unable to listen to the great man talk.

Adding a whole new political view to it, Harbir Singh pointed out that the students who ‘heckled’ Tarek were from Congress youth group and one of them was a past president of student union, presently working as a faculty in Panjab University.


Tarek Fatah’s Tweet

The political activist and writer Tarek Fatah has the same story to tell. He in fact replied to PU Mirror’s mail with the link of Harbir Singh’s facebook post.

Tarek Fatah's reply to PU Mirror's mail

Tarek Fatah’s reply to PU Mirror’s mail

Harbir Singh also claimed that the organizers of TEDxPU have been ‘silenced’. However, according to the TEDxPU organizer, the case was just an argument on ‘political vs national security’ between two subject classes and nothing more than that.

The stand taken by Harbir and Tarek Fatah has not failed to garner criticism, with many calling their side of the story a lie. Talking to PU Mirror, an eye witness to the whole commotion, Ganeshwari Singh, told a different story as to how the things rolled down. Mr. Tarek Fateh called out, “you white skinned boy, you come forward and tell me your name”, and as soon the name ‘Mustafa’ came out he started shouting “Yes! You showed your true colours. You are a Pakistani, a Muslim terrorist.” Disgusted by the events going on around, when another student named Gagandeep Singh Dhillon went to defend the honour of the student, he was called a Khalistani terrorist, and all the while this was happening, vulgar profanities were being heard from the mouth of Mr. Fateh. When Ganeshwari went forward and asked if her name was okay, she got a positive response to which she further replied that, this apparent great man disgusts her. While the commotion was going on, Mr. Fateh tried to enrage Gagan to hit him, while he silently pointed to Mr. Harbir to click the pictures and make videos of the ‘miscreants’. Seeing the commotion and the chaos Mr. Fateh and Mr. Harbir were able to slip out of the scene before anything else happened.

Many have supported the side against Tarek Fatah, and the list includes the Party President of PUSU Panjab University, Naval Deep. He took to facebook to voice his opinion and went out to length to ask for banning Tarek Fatah from the campus. Sticking to his point, Naval Deep told PU Mirror that such behaviour is not acceptable where someone calls out people ‘Khalistani’ and ‘Pakistani’ on no grounds.


Naval Deep’s Post on Facebook

Post the incident, the social media has brimmed with posts and tweets from both the sides. With allegations imposed by each side on the other, whether the case is that of Islamist and Muslim against Tarek Fatah is your decision to make!

(PU Mirror has personally reached out to Tarek Fatah, Ganeshwari Singh, TEDxPU organizer and Navel Deep; the information provided hereof has been backed by the same.)

About the Author:

Pratibha Nehra (Dept. of English)

Pratibha Nehra
(Dept. of English)

I’m an avid reader who has a passion for writing as well. I’m also a music buff and a fan of live music. I’m pursuing my masters degree from Panjab University and would love to become a food critic someday. If you like what I write, then do visit my blog – beyondallrationale.blogspot.in


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