NOTHING OF ANYTHING ‘ULTRA’ PLEASE!

Here it is in the context of the ongoing ‘national Vs anti-national’ debate!

JNU president Kanhaiya Kumar was released today on interim bail for six months and we saw wide scale celebrations – at Jantar Mantar and in JNU.

The celebrations are logical only if they are a natural reaction to the administrative actions taken (or excesses done) by the State and the police and not when they are seen as extensions of the feelings hostile to the nation.

It becomes sort of ‘ultra-leftist’ then.

— The way some people have acted like ‘ultra-nationalists’ to create a monster out from a prestigious institution and some over-enthusiastic students – something that is totally unacceptable!

We are free to exercise our Constitutional right of the freedom of expression as long as it doesn’t interfere with the sanctity provided to us by the Constitution, a sanctity we start losing the day we start colluding with anti-India sentiments.

Our Constitution, as laid out by the Supreme Court, still protects as – even if we shout anti-India voices.

But the day, we go beyond the restrictions of this sanctity – when we start acting on the feelings so far expressed only through some innocuous words – innocuous because so far they had not incited anyone to acts against the interests of the nation – we lose this Constitutional protection.

Why is JNU an example of the ‘state’s excesses’? Because this Constitutional sanctity was still not violated there. And if there was a fit case for taking action against anti-India sloganeering, the State should have explored the options befitting to an educational institution and students first, instead of going into the provisions of the Indian Penal Code.

For a legal, penal and judicial system that believes in rehabilitation, students do deserve a second chance.

We need to see that leftists don’t become ‘ultra-leftists’.

Likewise, we need to see that nationalists don’t cross the fine line of Constitutional obligation and become ‘ultra-nationalists’ – the way a BJP MLA and some lawyers did – the way anti JNU-students lobby has acted – the way some fringe elements have been raising voices consistently.

Debate, dissent, ideological differences, multi-party presence and a strong civil society – all these are must for a healthy and maturing democracy. A democracy cannot become strong if it has a weak political opposition. A democracy ceases to be a democracy the day a single ideology establishes absolute domination within its precincts.

Democracy needs rightists! Democracy needs leftists! Democracy needs centrists. Sans their ‘ultra-esque’ brethren – without them clinging to the ‘ultra’ extremes!

A democracy never needs ‘ultra-leftists’ or ‘ultra-nationalists’. They choke the dialogues process that all the stakeholders, that we all are, must engage in to create a pluralistic society, a robust democracy and a strong nation.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

JNU ROW: NOW THAT THEY ARE BACK

Now that the five accused including Umar Khalid are back on JNU campus, lets expect that everyone will act as per the experiences (and the learning) that JNU has thrown – since the row broke on February 9 when some students organized a protest event to commemorate Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat, two terrorists convicted and hanged by India.

Umar Khalid and some other Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students surfaced (or resurface) late last night. Apart from its political facets – like making a flash appearance and speaking of surrendering in full media glare so as to keep the police and the opposing groups on a watch – the simple principle of continuity makes it a logical decision. Let law takes its course.

Yes, there is nothing called an ideal scenario in our country – or in fact anywhere in the world – just degrees of relative ease and complexity – amply highlighted by the double standards shown here by the Delhi Police – but as it is India’s national capital – and it is in full media glare – and as the issue has already generated reflections internationally with Noam Chomsky, Orhan Pamuk and others writing appeals (Noam Chomsky, in fact, shot an email yesterday to the JNU vice-chancellor (VC) questioning why did he allow the police inside the JNU campus) – and as it has divided the people in urban India in pro and anti camps – it is not easy for the Delhi Police and the establishment elsewhere to continue the way it has worked so far.

And they have a significant development to back them – the Jadavpur University VC, in Kolkata, didn’t allow the police inside the campus in spite of the pro JNU students protests and sloganeering.

Hope sense now prevails on the Delhi Police and those opposing groups.

Or is it so?

It doesn’t seem the Delhi Police has learnt any lesson. After committing a social hara-kiri by acting unnecessarily tough on JNU students and conveniently ignoring O P Sharma and the rioting lawyers at the Patiala House Courts Complex, they did another such mistake.

The Delhi Police failed us again the last night. It couldn’t dare to touch O P Sharma and the accused lawyers for full three days even if they were out there, brandishing their hooliganism on cameras. The Delhi Police didn’t try even once to reach them and apprehend them. Instead, it kept on sending summons and summarily released them on bail even if they responded to the summons after two-three days.

But it reached the JNU campus in the middle of night to arrest the accused students – when this whole sedition case and the ‘anti-national Vs national’ debate is based on some video clips the authenticity of which were never established. In fact, the clips are being said doctored now.

It is good and logical that the JNU VC didn’t allow the Delhi Police inside the campus this time.

Let law takes its course. Let fight be at the ideological level. Let JNU be JNU. Let’s realize the gap between students and terrorists. Let’s not overreact anymore. Let’s now say no to hashtags like #JNUCrackdown or #CleanUpJNU or #StopAntiIndiaCampaign.

Let’s hope no more firecrackers later in the day – with sense prevailing inside JNU and outside its environs.

The nation comes first – for the JNU students, for them, for us – for everyone taking sides. Healthy dissent, ideological differences and vertical divides in societies are must-haves for any country if we don’t violate the Constitutional norms.

Now, who will decide when ‘a Constitutional norm’ is violated? Well, we have courts for that and a robust judicial system and a vigilant Supreme Court. Let’s base our trust there.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Indian cricket team captain, made a ‘to the point’ remark yesterday when he said that we must keep in mind that our armed forced are making supreme sacrifices at borders so that ‘we can keep debating things like freedom of speech’. We must respect that. Nothing goes beyond that sacrifice – we all, politicians and society, must keep that in mind.

And this remark came in the context of the Pampore encounter with terrorists in Jammu & Kashmir that is in third day and is still ongoing with six lives already lost, including five security personnel. And one of them, Captain Pawan Kumar from Jind, Haryana, a 23-year old Jat, wrote a thoughtful note on another issue that people are wrongly trying to impose on India – the violent protests by Jats in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh – to forcefully usurp something that is supposedly not for them – the caste-based Reservation.

Captain Pawan Kumar wrote in his last Facebook post before being martyred in Pampore (from a Press Trust of India report) – “Kisiko reservation chahiye to kisiko azadi bhai. Humein kuchh nahin chahiye bhai. Bas apni razai. (Some want reservation and some independence, I don’t want anything, brother, I want only my quilt).”

It should haunt everyone – those in JNU – those outside it, maligning it – politicians, police and society – and the people demanding Reservation and trying to force their way in.

And as Pawan Kumar graduated from the National Defence Academy, he is also a JNU degree holder as NDA has collaboration with JNU for degrees.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

TO THE POINT ON THESE JNU ROW DEVELOPMENTS

The JNU row has become the talking point of the nation. The controversy is spreading like a wildfire now – from Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi to Jadavpur University in Kolkata to University of Hyderabad to Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi – almost across India – and if something concrete is not done – it may soon engulf the nation.

And when and if it happens so – it may upset many equations – apart from destabilizing the society – because we must not forget that even a China could not control students from coming together and organizing a Tiananmen protest that resulted in the Tiananmen Massacre – one of the most horrific and most talked about dark chapters of the 20th Century.

There has been intense buzz and every related development makes for news headlines. There are versions, counter versions and more versions. There are claims and counter claims and there are related developments.

And in all this, one development stood out for its plain speak with highly effective, to the point imagery – on presenting some ugly faces in this row – of goons in the garb of people next door and of Delhi Police – clearly on the back-foot here – by making a ‘big something’ out of almost nothing and the way BS Bassi – the Delhi Police Commissioner is reacting, Bassi is sounding more and more empty.

The Telegraph’s front pages of February 16 and February 17 are right at the point in capturing the essence of the developments in the ongoing row.

The February 16 front page has a cover story talking about BJP MLA OP Sharma and the unruly mob of lawyers who were worse than goons who attacked supporters of Kanhaiya Kumar, the JNU Students Union president who has been arrested for allegedly participating in a seditious meet, and journalists including women journalists – in the court premises -and that too in India’s national capital.

The Telegraph 16 Feb

Its headlines ‘The Patriot’ with ‘riot’ in red colour hits right chords. Yes, we cannot allow anyone to abuse law like these bunch of lawless lawyers and OP Sharma did – even if we knew ‘how law would take its due course’ in dealing with these goons.

The February 17 front page was again rightly and very sensibly headlined ‘The Thought Police’ – on Delhi Police and its ‘now controversial’ chief Bassi. Bassi has clearly failed here – himself and us.

The Telegraph 17 Feb

People had thought he would be the first Delhi Police Commissioner in many years to have completed his term without a major personal controversy – until this JNU row happened. We don’t know what are his reasons to act so – but his attitude has raised unanswered questions – and he has consistently failed to justify his ‘discriminatory’ stand – on coming down heavily on Kanhaiya Kumar – and on conveniently ignoring the goons in the garb of lawyers – and OP Sharma – when everything happened in front of press cameras – when the Delhi Police filed the sedition case against Kanhaiya Kumar on a video clip from a television channel.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

JNU ROW: QUESTIONS WE MUST ASK!

THE QUESTIONS

The JNU row (Jawaharlal Nehru University) has debased to such lows that we seriously need to ask questions – on the whole socio-political milieu prevailing at the moment:

— That what was and what would be the right approach – to let the incident pass by taking strict disciplinary action against the erring students? – or making a fuss about it to the level that it has now escalated to the extent to threaten the academic atmosphere in many other universities?

Obviously, the sane and the logical voices would say a disciplinary action would be enough to address the issue – if at all it was needed – or that it would be precisely in course to ignore the event because it was not a majority view there, in fact just a handful of students were for it, and it was not the first time in JNU.

— Was it a case fit for police intervention? Now, after a week of row and its spread to other universities, we can safely say NO. In the age-groupthe  of being students, we all are impulsive, reactive, susceptible to sentiments and above all, we question ethos if we don’t conform to them – even if it means airing our views about the state, about its affairs. Being a student should be about that. We need to get outraged and speak our mind whenever we see something wrong. That is permissible within the democratic norms – something that is even the top custodian of the Indian Constitution, the Supreme Court of India, accepts – saying unless words incite action, it is not a fit case for imposing sedition laws. We may be wrong, like here these ‘pro Afzal Guru’ protesters were, but then there were other possible means to handle the situation than a police intervention.

— That if the administration was hell-bent on ‘improving’ the situation, sanitizing JNU of anti-national elements? If it was so, and no problem in that, then why did the Delhi Police act so late. Reports say the Delhi Police had information prior to the event.

— What were they waiting for? If the Delhi Police can proactively raid a government run canteen (Kerala House beef controversy) in the name of taking precautionary measures to prevent any untoward incident in the name of beef politics, why didn’t they do so here?

— Since February 9, it was JNU. Since yesterday, it is Jadavpur University. University of Hyderabad is also delicately balanced at the moment. Now, in the name of taking tough action on the so-called ‘anti-national’ elements in our university system, in our academic institutions, aren’t we risking something much more insane – something that would vitiate the academic atmosphere by dividing students along the lines of differing ideologies?

Universities must be the first place in any society to inculcate a culture of debate with differing voices and ideologies and the emphasis should be on developing in-built mechanisms to address voices of extreme like the ‘pro Afzal Guru’ event of JNU. There were just handful of students (10-15), and even that is not sure that if they all were from JNU, and their voice would never matter in the whole group of over 7000 JNU students.

— Aren’t all political parties culprit of adding fuel to the fire? From Arvind Kejriwal to Rahul Gandhi to senior BJP and Congress politicians to Mayawati to Nitish Kumar to Omar Abdullah and all others including the natural claimants, the Left parties with their legacy in JNU, who made statements or visited JNU to take sides – everyone is responsible to make what JNU has become today – since February 9 – and what University of Jadavpur is becoming since yesterday.

— Aren’t we all to share the blame? Aren’t we all instilling fear in minds of our students? Aren’t we all forcing our students to take extreme steps like Rohith Vemula did or like the three students of a Villupuram allied medical college did or like a Ph.D. scholar in Central University of Rajasthan who committed suicides after harassment from his research guide? Incidents like JNU crackdown or policies that make vice-chancellors excessively powerful are solely responsible and therefore it is the system that is behind such events or policies.

— Did the police act politically? Did the police act in haste? Did the Delhi Police make the matters worse? Yes, in fact, it is the Delhi Police that is primarily responsible for making this much of something that was initially nothing. And they have continued with their charade. They found an anti-national in Kanhaiya Kumar, the JNU Students Union president, very conveniently and arrested him but they have conveniently ignored the goondaism and lawlessness of some of the lawyers, an spectacle that has been on obscene display since yesterday thrashing Kanhaiya Kumar, his supporters and journalists including women – in the name of nationalism or patriotism. But like the ultra-leftist (DSU, the Democratic Students Union in this case), we also don’t need these ultra-nationalists. And the list of such bravados includes a BJP MLA. Things are on tape, recorded. The BJP MLA and the goons in the garb of lawyers are openly airing their views but the Delhi Police is still investigating, even if the Supreme Court reacted angrily on the lawlessness on display at the Patiala House Courts complex.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

HAPPENING THIS TO JNU ROW IS UNCALLED FOR..

The JNU row has taken a disturbing trend. It stirs your soul with negative energy now. Politicking has become worse but the worst part is – the issue, the JNU row and JNU, all have become a hotbed for conspiracy theories – going as far as a Hafiz Saeed involvement or cryptic Intelligence Bureau inputs or the so-called foreign designs.

Someone is busy labelling someone as anti-national. Someone is busy proving his nationalist credentials. Someone is crying hoarse over a Constitutional hara-kiri.

And everyone is busy settling political scores and seeking political mileage.

Yes, anti-India protests and sloganeering are unacceptable but there is nothing that makes case for #CleanUpJNU, the hashtag that was trending at the top throughout the day. And in fact, even at this hour a Twitter hashtag – #StopAntiIndiaCampaign – is trending at the top on Twitter’s India interface.

Yes, there are some misled JNU students but then society is first about counselling the misled – trying to take them in the social flow – especially when there are first time offenders. It has to give them the chance to undo some wrong first.

By simply saying that put those students behind bars, we cannot rid the society of this malaise. It goes much beyond that. And in fact, as the situation has become now, and as it is rapidly spreading, the anti-social and anti-national elements may exploit the sentiments to perpetrate some anti-society, anti-national plot.

You cannot say the counselling and mainstreaming are going to happen in an impulse. Counselling takes time. You cannot use force everywhere, especially on students.

Even the Supreme Court says mere sloganeering cannot be the ground for imposing the charge of sedition on someone unless the sloganeering incites some action. The top court had declared in 1962 – “Words and speech can be criminalised and punished only in situations where it is being used to incite mobs or crowds to violent action. Mere words and phrases by themselves, no matter how distasteful, do not amount to a criminal offence unless this condition is met.”

Let JNU be JNU, an academic institution. Let’s not make it a place to settle political scores and seek political mileage. The intense level of politicking, senior political leaders holding briefing sessions and consistent marches and rallies – these leave us in bad taste and are totally uncalled for.

That takes us to this natural question – has politics failed us?

It is both ways.

Politics has failed us. But politics also makes us the world’s largest democracy. Decision is for us to make.

There cannot be utopia, the ideal situation for a country, a society and the system that prevails there. It’s always a mixed bag – with negatives and positives. Yes, negatives look prevailing in our country but one cannot dismiss positives.

There are disparities and they are growing. But that is the case even with the US. The fact that we can openly discuss JNU row tells us a lot.

Europe had its Westphalian and renaissance moments. The US had its civil war and abolition moments. But they go back to centuries in making while sovereign, independent India is just 68 years old. Europe and US reformation took some 300 years or even more.

And if it has not happened in 68 years, the reform in our political system, then we need to accept that it is not enough time yet, even if we are at a cusp of technology revolution. We need to remember that technology revolution also brings information chaos and ‘access chaos’.

And there is no option but to struggle, persist and fight as long as what has been a practical universal norm for a good society is reached – as Vivekananda says – arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.

Arvind Kejriwal’s coming to power in Delhi is indicative of that, even if he is failing us now. That experiment by people tells people are ready to speak, even if symbolically.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/