First it was a maverick show on TV that puts down JNU students as anti-national, followed by buoyant Delhi Police raiding the campus and arresting the JNU Students Union leader saying it has enough support to show that he had shoulted against India and on Friday, police enter even girls hostels looking for fugitives.
The government has shown its force to the students of JNU who are outspoken ever since the institution was created to elicit counter-views on social and governance issues. The academic highpoint may not be understood by those who see life as mere me and my stand, notwithstanding the opposite view.
Kashmir is not merely BJP’s problem but the nation’s problem and every government has worked earnestly to drive home the point in the mindsets with reason and not with guns. Can we file sedition charges on all Kashmiris who are shouting anti-India slogans on TV channels in Srinagar? Governance is different from rhetoric and street protests and anti-protests enhance democracy as truth finally trickles down in the minds of the people.
AISA (All India Students Association) has always been on the extreme leftist ideological stand on national issues such as Naxalism and Kashimir or the Northeastern unrest. In fact, an AISA student who became JNUSU president in mid-1990s was later shot down by Bihar police in an encounter. They could have been part of the protest but arresting JNUSU president who is from AISF (CPI) is ironical. It is an ideological warfare that should be fought by the government silently but not by unleashing force on sacred JNU campus.
Thanks to the maturity of the Left parties and the Congress, the fear-stricken students who are packing their bags have seen an unexpected guest in Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, who visited the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus on Saturday to soothen the students of JNU who are known to be vocal in expressing their own midset unlike other students elsewhere in India.
It may be recalled that Rahul Gandhi himself was shouted down few years ago during his visit to JNU as an amateur politician. If he had struck to that, he would not have visited the campus now. But matured as he is now, that he visited the campus extending a healing touch to those who are frought with fear over police action and lost confidence to speak out anything against issues like Kashmir or Hindutva.
“A youngster expressed himself and the government says he is an anti-national. The most anti-national people are the people who are suppressing the voice of this institution,” Rahul Gandhi said with vivid maturity. “They do not understand that by crushing you they are making you stronger,” he said, a point aimed at ABVP students who showed black flags when he visited the campus.
Rahul Gandhi’s visit followed a string of such visits by Left and Socialist party leaders such as Sitaram Yechury, D Raja, Ajay Maken, Anand Sharma and KC Tyagi.
Unfortunate but the Sabarmati dhaba incident is too small to label all students of JNU as anti-national as every institution will have critics. But a knee-jerk reaction is self-defeating in a broader perspective. Delhi police raids are a showcase of creating fear psychosis among the students of not only JNU but all over India.
As teachers of JNU said in their statement, the only time a JNUSU president arrested was during the 1975-77 Emergency. Their statement is unequivocally evident:
“We the undersigned who have taught at the Jawaharlal Nehru University for long and have served as Deans of its various Schools at different times are shocked to hear that the President of the Students’ Union has been arrested on charges of sedition. As he belongs to the All India Students’ Federation, his views and political associations are well-known, and to accuse him of sedition is beyond the bounds of credibility. The only previous occasion when the President of the JNUSU had been arrested was during the Emergency of 1975-77, and the present situation on the campus brings back memories of the Emergency days. We urge the Union government to take immediate steps to prevent the intimidation of students and to ensure that the normal functioning of the University is not disrupted in any way.”
It was signed by KN Panikkar, CP Bhambri, Anil Bhatti, Utsa Patnaik, Prabhat Patnaik, Zoya Hasan, Anjan Mukherji, Mridula Mukherjee, and Aditya Mukherjee.
Moral of the story is “If you are part of a protest, even one single voice raising anti-national slogans will land all of you in jail under sedition charges.” Beware of it next time!