Mumbai: While highlighting that what he said about ‘voting for educated leaders’ was not political, ex-Unacademy tutor Karan Sangwan told The Free Press Journal that the row over his remarks has cautioned him about working with platforms that restrict freedom.
“It will be very difficult for me to work with platforms that restrict someone's opinions. Everybody has freedom according to our constitution so you can’t stop anybody from expressing themselves,” stated Karan, who added that he respects everybody’s views regardless of whether it is positive or negative.
Why did Karan's statement lead to boycott calls against Unacademy?
30-year-old Karan, who also runs his own YouTube Channel named ‘Legal Pathshala’, was discussing the introduction of three new criminal law bills, set to replace the Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure, and Indian Evidence Act, in the Lok Sabha.
But things took a turn for the worse when his statement urging students to vote for ‘educated leaders,’ sparked a row on the internet.
“I also wondered if I should laugh or cry, because I also have many bare Acts...and notes that we had prepared. But remember one thing – the next time you vote, choose an educated candidate so that you do not have to suffer all this again in life,” Karan remarked in the now-viral video.
Watch full video here:
The comment, which was seen by many users as an ‘insult’ to PM Modi and certain leaders in the ruling regime, led to some social media groups calling for the boycott of Unacademy despite Karan not making his remarks on the edtech giant’s platform.
'Personal opinions can wrongly influence learners,' says Unacademy
Though he was initially suspended on August 13 by the Bangalore-based startup, his services were permanently discontinued on August 17, as per reports.
“Our learners are at the centre of everything we do. The classroom is not a place to share personal opinions and views as they can wrongly influence them. In the current situation, we were forced to part ways with Karan Sangwan as he was in breach of the Code of Conduct,” said Roman Saini, Co-Founder of Unacademy, who added that the edtech platform is deeply committed to ‘quality education.’
Lamenting Saini’s public announcement of the decision, Karan clarified that his statements were not presented through Unacademy.
“My statement was on my own platform Legal Pathshala and not on Unacademy. Even what they have said about it being a political statement is not true as it was just a general statement I gave to my students,” asserted Karan.
Politicians across India weigh in
Politicians also weighed in on Karan’s statement, which has assumed significance in light of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
“Is it a crime to appeal to educated people to vote? If someone is illiterate, personally I respect him. But people's representatives cannot be illiterate,” tweeted Delhi CM and Aam Aadmi Party Chief, Arvind Kejriwal.
While Rajya Sabha MP and Shivsena (UBT) leader, Priyanka Chaturvedi questioned the edtech platform’s decision to fire someone over their views.
“How does saying vote for literate politicians a biased opinion? Doesn’t that opinion positively influence young minds? Shame if merely expressing this view gets you to take someone’s job, Unacademy,” stated Chaturvedi on X, formerly Twitter.
Abuse, trolling becomes the norm for Law tutor
The negative impact of social media reactions to Karan’s statement has not only left him facing the brunt but also his family members.
“All my statements were misinterpreted by certain groups who targeted, trolled, and abused me on social media platforms, and my personal accounts and pictures. There was no controversy but it has been created into one,” stated Karan, who added that he will continue classes for his students on his YouTube channel.
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