BRUTAL CRACKDOWN ON THE STUDENTS IN Day 7 of THE #‎OccupyUGC MOVEMENT in Delhi: Kanhaiya Kumar, President JNUSU

Guest Post by Kanhaiya Kumar, President, Jawaharlal Nehru Students Union (JNUSU)


Students at the Police Barricades - #OccupyUGC
Students at the Police Barricades – #OccupyUGC

Students from JNU, AUD, DU and Jamia Milia Islamia University who were protesting in front of the UGC building, were brutally lathicharged on 27th October and 33 students have been detained. This is the second time that students have been lathicharged and detained since October 21, 2015. Students across universities in and beyond Delhi initiated the #OccupyUGC movement protesting against UGC’s decision to discontinue non-NET fellowships, refuse any enhancement and introduce ‘merit’ and ‘income’ criteria in allocating fellowships to research scholars. In today’s lathicharge, one student was hospitalized in critical condition, female protestors were mishandled by male police, they were abused verbally and many have been seriously injured.

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JNUSU condemns the brutal lathicharge/crackdown against the protesting students by the Delhi Police and appeals to common citizens to support the cause of the ongoing #OccupyUGC movement.

Kanhaiya Kumar is President, JNUSU

12 thoughts on “BRUTAL CRACKDOWN ON THE STUDENTS IN Day 7 of THE #‎OccupyUGC MOVEMENT in Delhi: Kanhaiya Kumar, President JNUSU”

  1. “refuse any enhancement and introduce ‘merit’ and ‘income’ criteria in allocating fellowships to research scholars.”

    Are the students protesting a measure to introduce “merit” and “income” criteria or is the UGC unwilling to introduce these criteria?

  2. If the students had not assembled the lathicharge would not have taken place, since the students assembled to invite lathicharge therefore their wishes were fulfilled. So why do you “condemn” the lathicharge then? What are you trying to assert here?

    Assembly, sloganeering, and inviting lathi-charge was an effective tactic of the 1960’s, because such events would be widely reported and as a result public opinion would be mobilised against the state. Now this event does not even make it to news. No one is really bothered.

    It’s amazing and saddening at the same time to witness the absurd degree to which students wrap themselves in nostalgia of a tradition of protest that is so much rooted in past.

    I wonder what could be a contemporary way of protesting?

    Why don’t these students take to social media, troll people around an issue, make an issue with authorities, start trending their grievances and run their protests like a well-managed campaign? Would these strategies not help students in the long run?

    1. Rishab, I don’t know whether to laugh or be appalled at your ‘suggestions’. For one, what makes you think students are not using social media (spectacularly) already? The OccupyUGC campaign is all over social media including FB and Twitter. Also, you really believe the negative tactic of ‘trolling people around an issue’ is in some way morally or politically superior to standing in front of the UGC physically? Further, the fact that lathi charging is “not widely reported” and nobody is “really bothered” somehow becomes a moral alibi for you to condemn these tactics altogether? So for you, clearly, the ‘real’ is the only ‘rational’. Protest against the state was never taken kindly, and media reportage was never neutral. Maybe it’s slipped your mind that the Emergency was in the 1970’s, where protest was outright banned. So it is in fact you who suffer from nostalgia about the 1960’s, about it being some kind of golden age for protest. Finally, the breathtaking moral reasoning you display – if the students had not been protesting, they wouldn’t have been lathicharged!! Why does this criminalisation of a perfectly normal democratic everyday activity sound familiar? Wait, don’t some people say if you hadn’t been walking with a wallet in your pocket, you wouldn’t have gotten robbed? This is not good advice Rishab, this is plain and simple powerspeak. Good luck with your social media campaigns for a better world.

      1. Hahahaha! You see this is exactly what I meant by trolling. You trolled me and it felt really good to read your angry, angst-ridden post. Awww!

        All I was trying to say and still feel is that there is absolutely no harm in thinking of protests as a campaign to mobilise opinion around a cause.

        There is no need to get hurt. Greenpeace also protests, trolls also protest. I didn’t suggest that to troll is to demean a person, mock her being, that would be crude.

        But what’s the harm in trolling that provokes a response, an engagement. I hold all satire, sarcastic political commentary as a form of trolling. People like you and others are cheer-leading these vulnerable students now. I am not interested in that gesture.

        I wonder how many of you would be there when FIR’s would registered against these students, when the slow wheels of our judicial system will make them pay for their acts and when their lives would be made redundant over the years. For leaders a protest is a site for political opportunity. Good for them! For artists protests is a time when they find a voice, an audience, it give them meaning. Good for them!

        What about others? Have you ever wondered what happens to the lives clappers, by-standers, those mute spectators who just bear witness, when a protest is finally over?

        When I referred to 60’s I had the 1968 Paris student protest in mind, students rebelling against the state. Students rebelling against shutting down of a university. “Be realistic, ask the impossible” I am sure you remember this beautiful slogan of that time.

        Now you tell me, did the world become a beautiful place because of this protest, did the students get what they asked for. Each protest mobilise lots of people, who are genuinely troubled by action of others in their lives. But each protest actually benefits only few people.

        Occupy wall street, the name from which the current protest borrows a part of its title was successful to Ad-Buster magazine, as it sold tens of thousands of copies, was successful to like of Zizek, Chomsky and our own protest queen Arundhati Roy because they were able to make an ever lasting impression upon the minds of potential buyers of their works.

        Occupy was an immensely successful event for David Graeber, its author and author of an excellent book on Debt. David found employment at Goldsmiths and later because of his new found celebrity at LSE.

        Now please answer what changed in concrete terms because of this protest? Did the foreclosures stopped in America? Did the neo-liberals halt their march? DId world became a more just place? Did bankers stopped charging hefty fees? What happened? I will tell you what happened. During the time of occupy wall street people were swimming in nostalgia, as they do when they occupy UGC.

        Each protest must mirror the nature of capitalism. Capitalism of sixties was fordist, union-baazi, nare-baazi, made sense. Today’s capitalism is neo-liberal it demands a new sort of protest. I don’t know what that protest is, but I am sure it is not what these poor students are doing at UGC. I would urge all students to think deeply about form and nature of protest, what they want to do and how to do it.

        1. Ah, flattering-to-deceive, Rishab? You are segue-ing from seemingly minor disagreements about what forms of protest are legitimate to questioning the value of all popular protest itself. If you are so convinced that protest amounts to nothing but careers for career intellectuals and professors, then by your logic, why even troll? In a world in which physical demonstrations are no longer allowed to happen, it is not difficult to imagine that the government would come down on trolling and free speech on social media. Why would that be tolerated? Because it’s harmless? I thought you were saying it’s more effective? Do you see the slipperiness of your own argument? Either you say trolling is more effective as protest, or you say all anti-establishment protest amounts to nothing. You can’t say both, if you’re interested in taking a position that is, and not idle navel-gazing. The students at UGC are far from ‘poor’ and misguided. They are responding to a very clear material danger – that of the privatisation of education – a situation which in a rich country like the U.S has produced untold misery in the form of student loans and shrinking research opportunities. The students don’t need me or any other professional to tell them what to do. Indeed they are showing the way. If all the protestors of the world are swimming in nostalgia, I shudder to imagine what holier-than-thou soup you are drowning in.

          And since you asked, yes, some of us were there on the night of the lathicharge and unlawful arrest, helping them get released. You were probably watching football at home on telly?

          1. Say you walk into a place where there is a clear writing on that wall which screams, “Jeb Katron se savdhaan!” (beware of pick-pockets), with a stuffed wallet hanging out of your back-pocket, your pocket is probably going to get picked.

            If you feel sad about getting your pocket picked and blame the state for not doing its job, then am I not bound to feel less empathetic about your loss? Is not your act of walking in a pick-pocket infested area, with a wallet full of notes, an act of misguided adventurism?

            Each form of capitalism must invite its specific response.

            Primitive accumulation works on the premise of forceful, violent and often murderous dispossession.

            What the state does in mineral rich hills of India is nothing short of primitive accumulation. As people have pointed out protest, marches, sit in, fast-until death does not work as a response in such conditions. Resort to violence at times become a necessary and sufficient condition to protect modes of life.

            Fordist capitalism was based in the premise of labourer dispensing labour in a specific space for a specific time. If labour does not work, capital cannot circulate therefore a strike had a potent power to paralyse capital.

            In sites such as UGC, what we see is a post-Fordist capital at work but the form of protest is Fordist in nature and that is troubling, don’t you think?

            ! believe segueing is a virtue, as opposed to getting stuck in a form of protest which reminds one of a comforting nostalgia!

            No need to get defensive about what you do, an acknowledgment, I do not know what else to do, would be fine.

            All the best for meet-ups, fiery speeches, marches, sit-ins, songs, night-marches, candle-marches, sloganeering and lathi-charges of course!

            1. Thanks Rishab for the all the best. We intend strongly to have fun and make our point as well. And we are prepared for the consequences – no Fordist notstalgia there. It’s bizarre what you have imagined these students to be, without speaking to a single one of them, or actually coming and seeing with your eyes. We DO know what else to do if sit-ins fail, and we DON’T believe in a unilinear, hierarchical, purist classification of protests as better, worse, etc. We believe in a complicated, confusing, multi-layered arena of struggle, with conversation and debate alive, with lessons learned and moving forward all the time. The site of #OccupyUGC is filled with such productive conversations and debates. They are thinking on their feet, and will figure it out.

              Also, your initiall comments suggested trolling on social media, now you’ve swung all the way towards armed struggle!! So basically anything but regular forms of democratic protest! Also if regular democratic protest invites a lathicharge these days, which is to you a disaster, then how in any good conscience are you suggesting armed struggle? This is not even segue-ing, this is sheer incoherence.

              By the way, it’s breathtakingly sweeping a statement to dismiss all protest as useless – only somebody who is comfortable in their cynicism or escapism can make such a large generalisation. Having seen the teachers movement over ten years and knowing its history, and having studied trade union history, I know the critical gains that certain phases of protest have yielded us. And every single time there has been somebody standing on the sidelines saying it won’t work. As DUTA President Nandita Narain once said, if you fight you have a small chance of winning. But if you don’t even start the fight, you are guaranteeing your loss. It’s easy to stand by and make all protest look and sound ridiculous and naive. Yes, if you think we are expecting that with a single #OccupyUGC we will have the state crawling on its knees and saying “sorry sorry”, you are absolutely right to laugh at us. But we are in this for the long haul. if this doesn’t work we will try something else. And all advice is welcome, as long as it is not disingenuous, like yours is increasingly sounding.

              1. The sheer anger, which is apparent in response, only goes on to suggest that I stepped on the wrong nerve. My apologies!

                I did suggest trolling. Troll may be a person who sows discord using social media. How different is trolling from protesting? Is occupyUGC not sowing discord against a stated government position using streets?

                Pray tell, where did I suggest use for force? Where did I advocate use of force? I merely pointed out how “some people”, let me qualify like Arundhati Roy, explained in great detail in her essays why tribals take to guns against forceful dispossession. Did I write something incorrect?

                What is so breathtaking, sweeping, segueing, appalling, laughable, cynical, escapist, ridiculous, naive, disingenuous, incoherent, disastrous, bizzare, generalised, slippery-slope, holier-than-thou in asking how and why does a fordist form of protest counter a post-fordist state of play?

                I have no objections in the way you protest, but can I not request you explain why you protest in this form? Why do you think this form of protest is so common and yet so ineffective?

                The great change from 1968 protests was the education was no longer free in the west. Funding to humanities were subsequently cut. We must all thank the original protestors of 1968, misguided adventurists, rabble-rousers of the first order, worthy citizens of La Mancha herding their Sanchoes along to cut windmills to half for closing of university departments in the west.

                I think the only real thing which which you have learned in last ten years of protesting is to drown any question with judgmental value laden words.

                I asked are street protests not fordist in nature? Has the nature of capitalism not changed? Should the protest not change to reflect that transformation? Therefore do street protest not represent a form of nostalgia?

                To which I was told that my question was: breathtaking, sweeping, segueing, appalling, laughable, cynical, escapist, ridiculous, naive, disingenuous, incoherent, disastrous, bizzare, generalised, slippery-slope and holier-than-thou.


                1. Er…Actually I didn’t use all of those words, but let’s not nitpick. Apart from generalised swings at all popular protest and the left (which to me would explain my anger – I absolutely admit to it), you asked a question. I answered it. You said is this not fordist protest in post-fordist times? I said no it isn’t, and attempted to show you why, and what I think these protests are really, and what they represent. You are now asking the same question again, and protesting a little charmingly that I met your question with ‘judgmental value laden words’. I’m sorry that is not an accurate description of what just happened. You levelled substantive judgmental value laden charges (not simply words) at the OccupyUGC protestors and ALL similar protest by the left. Irrelevance (fordist, post-fordist), nostalgia (throwback to the 1960s), adventurism (inviting lathicharges), political opportunism (by the leaders), armchair intellectualism (by the intellectuals ‘cheerleading’ from the sidelines), and of course, again and again, sheer foolish irrelevance. If I just described your entire political belief-set in these terms, I imagine anger would be a logical response. Why don’t you hone that archmedean vantage point from your location, wherever it may be and come to us misguided folk with the perfect post-fordist solution for our troubled times? We will then let you know, from the street, if it worked or not. Deal?

  3. let me be more blunt. These students are just being used as a smokescreen by the leftist of this country who by the way have lost any kind of support with the common public. Same sort of rabble rousing by the same sort of people from the same sort of colleges read JNU. Give us a break for god’s sake, common people is not interested in these antics. This is not 60’s or 70’s or the congress times when the so called “board room intellectuals” used to run their writ. If you want to have a feedback away from the bubble of your so called rebellion against Modi, talk to the common people who is walking on the street and they will show these left radical students, trouble rousers and Lutyen’s intellectuals a real mirror.

    1. We love bluntness, Manoj. What we don’t love is your low opinion of students, some of whom are also to quote you “common people walking on the street”. I see how you make it difficult for us to win. If the students are from working class backgrounds, then they are simply fodder to be used by the leftists. If they are middle class, they should focus on getting jobs and not do tamasha on the road. If they are well off, they are elite armchair intellectuals. So what kind of student activist do you think is legitimate, Manoj? Oh by the way, would you say right-wing parties are equally using student organisations like the ABVP as a smokescreen to create legitimacy for the politics of mandir-masjid? Or are they exempt from this charge?

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