Cover Story : Detoxifying JNU
Anti-national elements have been crossing the thin line between dissent and treason. To save the academic credentials of the institution, such toxic elements have to be dumped
At the headquarters of grand old party of country, a visitor worker was inquiring with fellow party man about an exceptional news. They were discussing about a clipping of a news programme of private English News Channel in which anchor had virtually snubbed Umar Khalid, a panellist from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). On February 9, in a “Poetry Reading—The Country without a Post Office” programme organised inside the JNU campus by some students anti-national slogan were raised. They also raised slogans in support of Afzal and Maqbool Bhat. The said panellist in the programme was trying to put forth his view justifying the act of students while anchor was narrating the supreme sacrifice of Madras Regiment soldier Hanamanthappa made in minus 40 degree Siachen’s cold while performing his duty on border. It had raised the emotional temperature of anchor and he virtually castigated the panellist. The clipping had gone viral in social media with lots of kudos to anchor. This depicts the high pitched nationalist sentiments of hoi polloi, which has nothing to do with political ideologies. Under the garb of cultural programme an objectionable incident had happened on the campus and many who were in denial mode had to accept it after 2 days. The source of anguish of the common people represented by the anchor was same Umar Khalid and his associates who vitiated the atmosphere in the premier institution located in the national capital for more than a week. (See box: Chronology of Events)
2 Feb. – Pamphlet in support of Afzal was released
“Ask anyone on the street about his views on JNU incident you will find that every fifth man is of the opinion, whatever had happened in campus is not good omen for country,” said Arvind who is IT professional and has no political affiliation in background. The reason behind such opinion was not because of any ideological opposition but the anti-national slogans raised on the campus led to the uprising of popular perception against the incident. Public could not take the call given by a mob for ‘breaking Bharat in 10 pieces’ and supporting the same with ‘Insha Allah’. The intrusion of outsiders in this mob (participation of many suspected outsiders covering their faces with scarf and muffler is visible in many video footages) has upset the people and troubled the administration.
Freedom does not mean compromising responsibility to nation: RSS
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has flayed compromising the responsibility to the nation in the name of freedom of expression. RSS Akhil Bharatiya Sah-Prachar Pramukh J.Nandakumar said in a statement that compromising the responsibility to the country in the name of freedom of expression was a meaningless act. 'Bharat has always given importance to freedom of expression and artistic expression. But the patriotic citizens of the country could never allow anyone to surrender the unity and sovereignty of the country,'' He said there is no doubt that Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) is a prestigious institution. But it has been converted into a shelter of fundamentalists, left extremists, terrorists and casteist forces in the recent past, he alleged. He called for united stand united against such forces.
In fact, like Arvind feeling of patriotism and nationalism have taken a high zenith inside the common people that politicians who initially criticised Delhi Police vehemently for taking JNU students union president Kanhaiya Kumar into custody for allegedly raising anti national slogans have taken many steps back. Two days after the incident Kanhaiya’s clever speech claiming full faith in the Constitution, Umar Khalid’s outright denial of any anti-national slogans during the programme on TV channels and all other left tricks in the name of democracy stood exposed. Media and society directly started questioning the credentials of JNU.
Who is Umar Khalid?
Since the arrest of JNUSU President, Kanhaiya Kumar, one person who was defending the JNU incident is Umar Khalid. He hails from Bihar and is a leader of Democratic Student's Union (DSU) an extreme Left group. Born in a Muslim family, he identifies himself as an atheist. As PhD student in School of Social Sciences he has been doing field work in Jharkhand. He is considered as the mastermind behind the programme commemorating terrorists like Afzal, Maqbool Bhatt in the name of cultural evening. Umar is believed to be a sympathiser of the Jaish-e-Muhammad and allegedly visited Pakistan as well.
This crisis of credibility for the institution, which was created with the public fund to address the key social issues, was under so much scrutiny that after-effect was felt all over the country.
Named after the first Prime Minister of Bharat, Jawaharlal Nehru University, spread across 1000 acre of Aravali range in the capital of Nation, is a dreamed destination for every student who wants to achieve higher goal in academics. “The very Nehruvian objectives embedded in the founding of the University, national integration, social justice, secularism, the democratic way of life, international understanding and scientific approach to the problems of society had built into it constant and energetic endeavour to renew knowledge through self-questioning” claims the website in introduction to the University. But how knowledge acquired through self-questioning has turned atmosphere of campus against country is a matter of probe?
From its inception, student politics of the University is influenced by Left ideologies. Student organisations related with left leaning ideologies have always their representatives in the student union. Later Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) made its presence felt on the campus. During the last couple of decades, members of the ABVP could make inroads in the Council and the Union. However, organisations affiliated to the Congress could never get space among the students of the University. Neither the Congress leadership has ever shown serious interest in the affairs of JNU.
On ground, most of the non-communist student organisations remained on the margins in this campus which cannot be denied now. Especially, the students inclined to the ideological opponents like ABVP have to face insult, neglect and even persecution. After the anti-national programme, when the news of difference of opinion came out on the issue of government action against the accused, the similar guess was made. ABVP accused that some members took a dissenting stand under pressure of anti-Bharat forces or opportunist Communist political organisations to divert public attention away from crucial investigations surrounding the February 9, 2016 event. The organisation which bagged 11 posts of councillors and position of joint-secretary in the central panel registering its best performance in the recent past claimed that the nexus comprising Left-leaning faculty, students along with administration systematically discriminates and harasses our students and engages in witch-hunting of our activists.
Besides allegation of discrimination, this campus is also a cradle of special political experiment which was visible again in the name of Afzal. After facing the drubbing by voters in the last Lok Sabha elections, vice president of the Congress party, Rahul Gandhi, is trying to optimise the benefits of every controversy here and there to regain the lost ground. The Congress-Left alliance against the arrest of JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar is indicating the same trend. Rahul declared himself standing with the students. He asked, ““What is anti-national? The most anti-national people are the people who are suppressing the voice of this institution. You must question them at every single step. A youngster expressed himself and the government says he is an anti-national”. Though, generally it does not happen in the Congress party but many senior Congress leaders, on the condition of anonymity had accepted the wrong move of Nehru Gandhi scion in the JNU case.
Congress is now saying, “BJP is muzzling the voice of India’s youth, students, teachers, journalists, opposition and every individual organisation as if they had not imposed any sedition charges on innocent Indians,” said Umesh Kumar who teaches political science in a Delhi College. “For them even cartoons of Asheem Trivedi were so ignite full to disturb the peace of society that they arrested him on charge of sedition,” he adds further to exposed the hypocrisy and double standards of main opposition party.
Claiming non-involvement of its students’ body in the row over raising anti-national slogans, the CPI (M) central committee member, Badal Saroj said, “First, the group that raised slogans and hailed Afzal Guru on February 9 was not from any of the Left-affiliated students’ unions. Second, despite CPM-affiliated Students Federation of India (SFI) not being a part of it, crackdown was on them along with All India Students’ Association (AISA). SFI anyways is on third position in the campus. The Left-backed unions have already distanced themselves from this JNU issue. They had nothing to do with the particular group. And, third, let proper authorities concerned investigate and take action. Instead, the entire matter was politicised by the BJP, after its students’ body Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) staged demonstration in the campus and at India Gate. Students who were not involved in hailing Afzal were also named by police”.
An onlooker Harish Kumar who had witnessed the hooligans’ activities in the court premises said, “What happened in the Patiala Court premises in the last two hearing of Kanhaiya Kumar’s case is the result of outraged feeling of common men who love their mother land so passionately that any anti-national activity bruised their inner heart and feelings so badly that they do not hesitate to take extreme step of taking law of land in their hands”. “You cannot justify the assaults on journalists, students and teachers merely by saying the eruption of emotions or national feeling here in Patiala case but for people like us anti national slogans are tantamount to assault on mother India,” he adds. On February 17, JNUSU President Kanhaiya was thrashed and mercilessly beaten by a section of unruly black coat wearing advocates because of his alleged anti-India slogans. Few journalists who were trying to capture the hooliganism of advocates also attracted fury of these advocates who seem to have determine to teach a lesson to all those who in their view have indulged in anti-national activity.
However other sections of the society have not taken the Patiala Court’s incidence like Harish. “Media have an unhindered right to report. Attack on Media persons is highly improper and condemnable,” said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley at his twitter handle. Yogendra Yadav after the violent incidence at Patiala house twitted “Indeed, a national shame. This hooliganism in the heart of national capital makes a mockery of our country. Ashamed.” Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal too finds this occasion to sharpen his attack on Delhi Police. “Del Pol openly flouting SC orders. Bassi acting so brazenly. What instructions does he hv from his bosses? Said his twitter account @ArivindKejriwal.
Supreme Court also expressed its anguish on the whole controversy. A bench of Justice J Chelameswar and A M Sapre said while hearing the violence incidence, “It is common these days. All concerned parties, including lawyers, must learn to practice some moderation. There is a tendency to adopt extreme views and stick to it without fathoming the repercussions.
The bench also asked the arguing lawyers, “Why has no one come here to complain against the anti-India and pro-Afzal slogans shouted by those present in the court complex?”
Meanwhile, Kanhaiya Kumar, who certainly not afraid, has surprised many with his statements. In a written statement before the metropolitan magistrate after refusing any indulgence in any anti India activities, within four days he expressed concerns over threat to his life and rushed to the Supreme Court for bail, which the apex court has refused to listen.
The global press has reported the JNU clash and police action. The Guardian and New York Times have given spaces to it prominently along with other papers. “Surely the whole incidence has attracted disrepute to this internationally acclaimed institution, but the question is how to move ahead after this sad incidence? And more importantly who is more culprit, faculty or students for causing disturbance in the campus and halting the most important activity of teaching. Higher learning institutions are meant to impart knowledge not to imbibe teaching of anti-national activities,” said a dean of a degree college of Uttar Pradesh who does not want to be identified in the fear of any controversy.
The JNU controversy has raised concern not only for other organisations but even past students of the institution. The voices raised by JNU alumni through their posts in social media and writings in newspapers suggest that their bonds with the institution are not limited to the nature of students politics. In a press conference, organised by the past student of JNU at Indian Women’s Press Corp, Ex-JNUite and Member of Parliament Udit Raj said that JNU is a reputed institution. Many students from this institution are bringing pride for the nation. But the anti-national activities of some misguided youth held on February 9 are really condemnable. All past students of JNU condemn this incident and demand for an impartial inquiry. In a similar meeting held at Aliganj of Luuknow, members of Ex-JNUite forum under the leadership of Dr V K Singh supported the inquiry against the accused by the Central government and investigation agencies. Members participating in the meetings agreed that the February 9 incident has damaged the reputation of the institution and the
role of teachers and organisations involved in the same should be thoroughly investigated.
What is the solution of JNU crises so that it could not be raised again by miscreant people? Sunil Ambekar, national organising secretary of ABVP has said in an interview given to an economic national daily, “We must ensure academic freedom in our universities and freedom of expression. But how far this will go? You can oppose ideas, policies and even the government, no issue. But, it cannot go beyond that. You cannot go the level of opposing the idea of nation. We must set some norms for this as to how far one can go on freedom of expression. It is unfortunate if seminars are held against India with the money form ICSSR.”
Sensing the high voltage anti national environment created by bunch of student Subramanian Swami, BJP leader, also has come out with a bizarre solution. He has called to shut JNU and filter all hostels. “JNU must Shut down for 4 months and after getting the students to sign the affidavit stating to uphold Constitution of India, only those would be allowed to come back,” he said. “Central government has the right to see whether the money is being used for academic activity,” he further added.
The JNU students are already facing wrath of common public. The select intellectuals and media personnel of Lutyens Delhi who are trying to defend everything in the name of freedom of expression may not walk with them for too long is the reality. The ideological hypocrisy in the name of Leftism and support to anti-national activities in the name of human rights is not acceptable to the common masses.
Arun Srivastava & Organiser Bureau