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Penalising JNU Students

The decision to impose a fine  on Kanhaiya Kumar, the controversial student leader of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, and to rusticate and fine some other students by the university authorities have again exposed the teeth and claws of fascism in the country. Anybody who has cared to follow the sequence of events with an open mind must not fail to understand the grossly undemocratic nature of the measures taken by the central government. Preparing a counterfeit video cassette in order to prove the charge of 'anti-national' activities against Kanhaiya Kumar was certainly a nefarious act. It is in the highest degree improbable that being a member of a student organisation affiliated with the CPI, Kanhaiya Kumar would shout slogans like Pakistan Jindabad. It is also highly probable that agent infiltrators from the ABVP, the student wing of Bharatiya Janata Party raised such slogans in order to break the morale of those forces who, over the years, have built up the JNU as a seat of free thinking and debate.

The way the Supreme Court, in upholding the death sentence on Afjal Guru, referred to 'collective conscience' leaves room for doubting whether it strictly followed the legal norms. If the surmise that they cared less for legal points than for 'collective conscience' is correct, the protest against Guru's execution definitely has a case. Besides, the fact remains that there is a strong current of public opinion in this country as in elsewhere against death sentence. One point that tells against the punishment ( rustication and fines) is that the matter is sub-judice. It is here noteworthy that nobody has been arrested for displaying a morphed video. It speaks volumes of the political clout of the miscreants.

The BJP, the RSS, the ABVP, have long been endeavouring to destroy the rational fabric of the JNU culture and place that of an aggressive Hindutva in its stead. The persecution of Kanhaiya Kumar and other students shows that they have come to exercise their influence over the university authorities. Students, however, have refused to move from their stand and have come out in open defiance.

When the issue first broke into the open, there were widespread protests against the police crackdown and the beating of Kanhaiya Kumar. It is curious that in the Parliament, the TMC stood silent while the Congress, the CPI and the CPI(M) were firm in their opposition, may be due to their own political calculations.

The penalised students and their supporters declared a relay hunger strike against the action taken by the JNU administration, based on the recommendations of the University appointed committee. Reacting to the punishment Kanhaiya, said and quite justifiably that the committee was casteist and undemocratic. They were determined to teach the Kanhaiyas a lesson or two. ‘‘A farce is what this inquiry has been from the day one, made to witch-hunt and punish students by hook or crook’’.

The head of the inquiry committee Rakesh Bhatnagar allegedly ran a movement called ‘‘India Against Reservation’’. What one can expect from a person like Mr Bhatnagar, otherwise biased against the so-called lower castes, is anybody’s guess. What is more, penalised students were not given the full report. Nor did they know the exact charges against them.

Cultural aggression by the saffron brigade is in full swing and JNU has been chosen as a testing case.

27-04-2016

Frontier
Vol. 48, No. 44, May 8 - 14, 2016