JNUSU PROTEST MARCH: THE EXPECTED CLIMBDOWN – AND IT IS FOR GOOD

It was expected to happen this way and thankfully it did happen this way – the response to the protest march called by the JNU Students Union (JNUSU) – that did not set the news agenda today.

And much of it has to do with the rapid climbdown the ‘Kanhaiya Kumar hopes’ saw – after his bail on March 3.

March 3 and 4 were crucial – for Kanhaiya Kumar to understand and act that he was not a fulltime politician but mere a student activist who had got people’s sympathy and support because people felt he was being wronged, because people felt that he and others in JNU were being victimized.

Newsrooms and the nation saw a surcharged atmosphere even during the breaking developments centred on Umar Khalid and Aniraban Bhattacharya disappearance, reappearance and surrender.

Being students was the significant brand equity every JNU student had when police, politicians and administration started making mess of a university matter. Their activism, ideological affiliation and sense of fighting it out only amplified the appeal. It worked well with the popular sentiment that tends to be with the people who are perceived as being victimized.

Kanhaiya Kumar and other JNU students lost these advantages after Kanhaiya Kumar started doing rounds of personal interviews and started making unnecessary verbal attacks that didn’t spare even the defence establishment including the Indian Army.

When communication goes on mass level, no one sees the intent but the words you ejaculate. The ‘Kanhaiya Kumar fined for obscene behaviour against a woman’ episode further added to it. Then there were additionals like talks of Kanhaiya Kumar slated to campaign for the Left-wing parties in the upcoming assembly polls.

So, a mess that had given a window, an opportunity to revive student politics and activism in India was being reduced to a mere political opportunity that could conveniently be labelled anti-BJP and thus could be dismissed.

Everyone saw through it – including those who had rushed to support JNU students. Certainly there has been a disenchantment and it reflected today when no national news channel made it a point to beam Kanhaiya Kumar and others while they were organizing the protest march.

It was third in a series of solidarity marches to raise voice for democratization of academic institutions in the country and was about JNUSU’s and JNUTA’s demand of releasing Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya. And sane, neutral voices want them released though their judicial custody was extended for another 14 days today. Hope, they get bail tomorrow when their bail plea hearing is expected.

But as the overall issue is important – that how some students of a particular institution were targeted and are still being targeted – beyond what should have been a justified punishment/disciplinary action meted out to them – so was the attention given to the issue today. Almost every news carrier carried the developments on the JNU protest march later in the day – with relevant pointers from Kanhaiya Kumar’s speech today.

Student politics and activism are imperatives for any democratic society but within the confines of academic environment. Yes, universities must be the first places for voices of dissent but it is the responsibility of everyone to keep the culture of debate healthy and democratic. And they must be within the Constitutional norms that run a democracy. You have to practice the fact that only your ideology cannot be sacrosanct – be it Leftist – or the Centrist – or the Rightist.

If you have to get engaged in fulltime activism or politics, pass the confines of the academic institutions first. While still being a student, it is not your job to raise voices, indulge in sloganeering and organize events to rid the country of this or that ideology. Keep your leanings intact for the time when you will be out in the open to take on what you believed was wrong and unjustified when you were building the activist in you during your days in your academic institution.

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

KANHAIYA AND OTHERS TO BE RUSTICATED? TOMORROW IS AGAIN A STORMY DAY IN DELHI.

The inquiry committee constituted by JNU has submitted its report. The day finally came today after the three extensions the committee was granted. And going by the information leaked so far, its findings and recommendations are going to make for headlines.

It has already begun and tomorrow, when there is a big agitation march planned by the JNU Students Union (JNUSU) – Parliament Chalo, it is going to figure prominently. The findings of this probe committee will certainly reflect on how stormy the day is going to be tomorrow.

JNUSU is demanding removal of sedition charges and other cases slapped on Kanhaiya Kumar and others. The Left-wing students unions are backing the move. JNUSU has appealed to the students in Delhi’s different colleges and universities to join the protest tomorrow.

And given the response that Kanhaiya Kumar and other students got after the administration and police made the mess of a simple university issue, the protestors will try to mobilize more support for Kanhaiya Kumar and other students when they take to roads tomorrow.

Kanhaiya Kumar is out on ‘interim bail’ with some tough words by the presiding Delhi High Court judge who delivered the order. Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya are still in jail after they failed to secure bail.

So, even after the blitzkrieg that Kanhaiya tried to unleash after his bail on March 3, they, from JNUSU and those under scanner including Kanhaiya, are not going to say anything acidic or hostile to the law of the land – that will further affect their case. Yes, a sort of speech delivered earlier in JNU is expected tomorrow – but it is not going to get same eyeballs – because, since March 3, Kanhaiya Kumar last lost much of his currency that made him relevant for a cause.

Some deft political manoeuvring has to be there then – that conveys what the JNUSU wants to say – and convinces people of its intent and substance. JNUSU opposed this probe committee, demanded a fresh one. Those under investigation didn’t appear before it. And students had support of many faculty members as well. And it was certainly not restricted to the university campus. And that has to be sustained.

A well coordinated movement fanning across the capital city or a significant presence in the heart of Delhi to catch media attention and social media pull will serve the purpose. Yes, a speech is ok – but with the intent that reflects sincerity and commitment to a cause.

If tomorrow has to be a stormy day – it has to be within the confines of the law – like the protests of the hugely successful anti-corruption movement of 2011. And if JNUSU has learnt any lessons, it will try to follow the suit.

Hope sense will prevail tomorrow – unlike what happened on February 9 – when anti-India slogans were raised in JNU. Yes, Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and others say they did not raise them and those who shouted those slogans were outsiders and we would love to go with that but with the obvious questions that if all these JNU students were present there, when these slogans were raised, they why none of them bothered to stop such anti-nationals or behaved like responsible citizens by informing the authorities of what had happened.

If there had to be any punishment in this case, it was about this – a disciplinary action by the university administration.

And it is expected that the action taken on the recommendations of inquiry committee would be in line with this spirit – with no expulsions – but clear warnings. Police did not go on hunting for two more students named after Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya surrendered indicates that.

©/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/