The incident of February 9, 2016 in JNU, for all those who have been in the campus or know about the varsity was nothing new as such incidences have taken place with impunity in the past.
- The Hawala episode came to limelight after a terrorist Sahabuddhin Ghori was arrested from the campus in the mid nineties.
- In 1996, the then AISA (student wing of CPI (ML) invited terrorists from the valley to address students in JNU only to be thwarted by nationalist in the campus.
- In the year 2000, two army men were brutally beaten up during a friendship Mushaira organised by one of the left student organisation because they protested anti-Indian Mushaira being rendered by the participants.
- In 2009, when more than 70 paramilitary forces were killed in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh, there was celebration in the campus and the Indian flag was burnt by the activist of AISA and other Naxal groups.
- Few years back a student of JNU was arrested for having links with Naxals, who held many parts of the country to hostage.
These are just a handful of many such instances which have never got the limelight that it deserved. The readers would be surprised to know that no action whatsoever was initiated against all those involved in the incidences mentioned above mostly because they were patronised by vested interest in the campus and also because the media never took these incidences seriously.
The recent case also would have met with the same fate had the media not picked up the issue and had it not generated the attention that it deserved. Soon after the police action, the usual chant of freedom of expression being denied, JNU’s autonomy under threat rather JNU under threat has filled the air. Leaders of all hues have made a beeline to the campus against the arrest. The irony is CPM who never believed in freedom of expression in Bengal, Kerala and anywhere it could manage to get a whiff of power, including in JNU is now going length to lecture us on this.
Congress party that imposed Emergency in the country, came down heavily on any dissent on many occasions during its 60 years of misrule including ban on Satanic Verses, brutalising students during the Nirbhaya incident and Anna movement is lecturing on freedom of expression.
Given that JNU was set up to accommodate the communist it is but natural that bird of same feather will flock together even at the cost of national unity and integrity. For these political parties its all about scoring brownie points even on this issue where secessionist slogans were raised, where Afzal, Maqbool Bhatt were eulogised as heroes.
The explanation now being given is that the event was organised by a “fringe” left group, the question is who allowed it? Was it a case where one left group giving space to another in the name of left unity or is it a case where the malice runs much deeper and there is more than meets the eyes???
The question is whether the teaching community, many of whom have got appointed because of their ideological leanings and many of whom were active members of the various students grouping of CPI, CP(M), CPIL(ML) during their student days and later on as card members of the main party have provided a safe sanctuary to interests inimical to the cause of the nation?.
One would agree with the larger picture that JNU needs to be saved but the big question is from whom??? Is JNU to be saved from the clutches of those who have always believed in a particular kind of worldview and derided, demeaned and ridiculed any other world view and are well entrenched in various positions in the varsity for years together?? Is to be saved from the clutches of those who have used the Varsity to propagate their idea of India which is not a single Nation but conglomerate of various nationalities????
Is it to be saved from those vested interest who have institutionalised a system of appointment to the faculty and other position where the adage is “you favour my student and I will yours”???? Unless we have answers and clear about what “Save JNU” mean, we will do a great disservice to the Varsity and to the nation. The bottom line is we as former students of JNU take pride in what we have got from the varsity and hence we do expect that the institutions do not become a launch pad for anti national and secessionist activities.
Sandip Mahapatra (The writer was JNUSU President in the year 2000)