“Never does land/ Mean clay and sand
The people, the people! They are the Land”
The arrest of the JNUSU President, suspension of 8 students and detention of 7 students is the latest in the series of witch-hunt against students in universities across the country. The ongoing crackdown and militarization in JNU bears testimony loss of autonomy of institutions of learning which owes its reason to the ideology and acts of the present ruling dispensation.
To set the context, on 9th of February, 2016 a group of students in Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi gave a call for Cultural evening (“The Country without a Post Office”) on the inauspicious day of third anniversary of hanging of Afzal Guru who was sentenced to death to satisfy “collective consciousness” of the Nation. The administration, which had given permission for the event, had cancelled its permission fifteen minutes prior to the event succumbing to the pressures of ABVP. Nonetheless, the students went forward with the event. Many student groups affiliated to various left factions were present, as the situation had become volatile with the members of the ABVP threatening to disrupt and attack the students. During the event some students allegedly raised few “Anti-national” slogans, which were perceived to be incendiary in nature. This followed a huge uproar in the media, which distorted facts, twisted words and forced a media trail at the same time ignoring the violent slogans raised by ABVP at the venue. The student wing affiliated to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party had approached a Member of Parliament, Mahesh Giri, who also represents the same party from East Delhi Constituency. A complaint was filed in the police station on charges of sedition following which the JNU students’ union president, Kanhaiya Kumar, was arrested on 12th February and has been remanded for three days in police custody. The police also entered the university hostels and conducted raids and started intimidating students who had taken part in the event or supported the democratic rights granted by the Indian constitution. On 13th of February seven other students were detained on the same charge. Meanwhile, the university acting in the same hasty manner appointed a committee based on a complaint and suspended eight other students even before any investigation. The JNU community is resisting this daylight onslaught of their democratic rights and the attempt to silence them through extreme measures by the administration backed by the MHRD.
The media’s role especially during the prime time to spin the whole event into a one of anti nationalists is a completely fabricated one, which is not at all based on facts. It is deplorable that media that should be ideally objective and responsible in their reportage played the fiddle of the establishment by manufacturing their analysis.
The events in JNU forcefully remind everyone of the trail that lead to the death of a bright, young Dalit Research Scholar Rohith Vemula in the Hyderabad Central University who was suspended and thrown out of Hostel for organizing an event against the hanging of Yakub Memon.