JNU under seige: Ayesha Kidwai

AYESHA KIDWAI, Professor at JNU, on her Facebook page yesterday

For whom Our Constitution and its values are dear

There is no doubt that the Jawaharlal Nehru University is under siege right now. You will all have to forgive me the length of this post, but it is necessary so that we all understand that maintaining calm and mutual support is the only way we are going to get through this.

1. The JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar has been picked up and produced at the Patiala Court, which has remanded him to three days of police custody. He has legal representation, but the charges are, as you all know, serious. He is the first person who the police went to pick up even though he was not an organiser of the event that is being used to legitimise what has happening.

2. We are told that the police/IB has a list of twenty odd names of students that they want to pick up, although the FIR itself is against unidentified students. This happened while classes were taking place, seminars were being held and the whole university was normal. Even after that, no incident that disturbed the peace of the campus has taken place. AND WE ARE GOING TO KEEP IT THAT WAY.3. In a letter signed by the Registrar, the university has given the police the blanket permission to take any action as it deems fit. This is a shocking and unacceptable permission given without even an attempt at verification of the police’s claims, as it makes everything we do in the university –teach, study, educate, organise, and agitate — something which the police can investigate and act upon. As teachers, we will not be intimidated by this attack on our academic freedom and will continue to teach and study with the critical, probing, questioning eye that our various disciplines hold in the highest regard. Big brother can watch us and we can only hope that he will go back better educated.

We are told that the charges being sedition and criminal conspiracy gives the police the power to roam around the campus entering hostels and searching rooms. THIS IS NOT TRUE, AND THERE HAS TO BE A SEARCH WARRANT WITH A NAME ON IT. If the police has indeed been in violation of this basic requirement, this is telling.

4. The University administration has also given the police the assurance that they are committed to installing surveillance devices across the campus, presumably in accordance with the surveillance guidelines of the UGC (which I have written about earlier). We reject these assurances — JNU is one the safest campuses in the world, because our campus culture teaches (most of) us mutual respect and concern for each other.


5. At 2.00 pm this afternoon after the arrest, the JNUTA called an emergency meeting to discuss the issue. We then all moved to the administration block where a large number of students had gathered. We are all agreed that this campaign of shutting JNU down is not going to be allowed to come to fruition. WHILE WE REFUSE TO ‘NORMALISE’ THIS SITUATION OF POLICE DEPLOYMENT AND AN EVER-PRESENT THREAT OF POLICE ACTION, THE THREAT IS AS MUCH TO OUR LIBERTY TO EDUCATE AS IT IS TO OUR FREEDOM TO ORGANISE AND AGITATE.

6. JNUTA held a press conference and called for a community march at 7.30 pm, in which more than 200 students and teachers participated. THIS WAS A COMPLETELY PEACEFUL EVENT AS IT ALWAYS IS IN JNU. IT IS A FACT THAT THE POLICE ACTION IS THE ONLY REASON WHY JNU HAS BEEN DESTABILISED.

7. After the March, we have received a notice that 8 students have been suspended pending enquiry by a ‘high level enquiry committee’ set up by the patriotic JNU administration to look into the February 9 incident. The students have been allowed to stay on as guests in the hostels. Despite appeals by scores of teachers to de-escalate, this is another attempt to disrupt, and we must be vigilant. THE STUDENTS SO SUSPENDED HAVE RIGHTS AND WE SHALL DEMAND THE UNIVERSITY RESPECT EACH ONE OF THEM.

There is no cause for despondency. I know that the orchestrated media campaign against JNU, the top-ranked university in the country, is very distressing. Let me assure you that the world knows this already, and knows why all this is happening.

11 thoughts on “JNU under seige: Ayesha Kidwai”

  1. Statement from former Deans of JNU

    We the undersigned who have taught at the Jawaharlal Nehru University for long and have served as Deans of its various Schools at different times are shocked to hear that the President of the Students’ Union has been arrested on charges of sedition. As he belongs to the All India Students’ Federation, his views and political associations are well-known, and to accuse him of sedition is beyond the bounds of credibility. The only previous occasion when the President of the JNUSU had been arrested was during the Emergency of 1975-77, and the present situation on the campus brings back memories of the Emergency days. We urge the Union government to take immediate steps to prevent the intimidation of students and to ensure that the normal functioning of the University is not disrupted in any way.

    K.N. Panikkar
    C.P. Bhambri
    Anil Bhatti
    Utsa Patnaik
    Prabhat Patnaik
    Zoya Hasan
    Anjan Mukherji
    Mridula Mukherjee
    Aditya Mukherjee

  2. But Sir, and Mams…will anyone tell please tell me what is the justification for using the campus for raising anti- national voices? Please don’t count me in one of those who hail from the neo-patriotic bhakt class of citizens of this country. I study in an IIT and i have my preferences correct and they have little to do with any fundamentalist ideology prevailing in this country now a days. I have followed JNU and its activities for a long time and I used to be very happy about the fact that you people exist and create some minds who pursue healthy politics. But my question is; Is it healthy any more. Born and brought in a middle class family I was taught in very clear words that nothing can be above the nation which you live in and that never ask the nation what it did for you, ask yourself what you did for it. With time, many such notions got erased, many got distorted, but the essence remains. This country, I love it, I love it to the core of my heart and I don’t need any certificates from any class of citizen from this. What happened in the campus that day, it was painful to watch, it was painful to listen to. You treats his own nation as a third party? Go back India…there were slogans urging people to fight until this country breaks. Please tell me, you claim you protest to find solutions. WHAT PROBLEMS THESE SLOGANS ARE TRYING TO FIND SOLUTION OF? That this country exists…or that it has somehow maintained to be a democracy for the larger part? What are you trying to achieve there by these kind of activities.
    I know all the broad notions of Left wing politics and on the whole I like it. But where does it teach you sedition. Yes, this is sedition, sadly. You are not solving any problems by doing these kind of activites on taxpayer’s money. You accuse the court of satisfying the collective conscience of the country, but you people are doing the same here. You are satisfying the collective conscience of your campus, to which many of the other campuses today will strongly oppose I am sure. And Sirs, for long you have taken the intellectual responsibilities of this country your hostage, but let me tell you, other campuses have brains and intellect too, and in many cases, far more superior than yours. So please, don’t make them rise against you, don’t create such situations. You are NOT solving anything here….

    1. Were you physically present there to hear or see or even sense the slogans being shouted by Kanhaiya Kumar?

      Tell me one good reason why Kanhaiya Kumar is charged with sedition.

      Whereas today I see video showing ABVP activist among them people who were shouting ”Pakistan Zindabad”.

  3. What is said is right. But people should understand that JNU is one institution in India, outside people greatly respect and vie for a place. In the name of students right, it is not justifiable to raise anti-national slogans. For ordinary citizen of this country this is shocking. Ideological differences are ok, but this incidence is beyond any normal justification. It is responsibility of everyone at the campus to check such instances. Please help identify those responsible.

  4. Not only jnu but all acdemic institutions seem to be under siege at the moment! Hostels being searched, large police force deployed on campus, jnusu president arrested even when there is no proof against him? We had read about emergency but may be witnessing it now, it might have been like this only where one even fears speaking against the govt.

  5. Teaching from all over the country must express solidarity with the students and teachers of JNU. The teaching and administration should pressurise hovernments to pass laws banning police entry into campuses and an independent mechanism of security by the elected students bodies.

    1. With due respect, I totally disagree. What are you arguing. No one in his senses would prefer to witness what happened — anti national slogan in university that survive on taxpayers money. We should express solidarity for diverse ideologies and opinion, not anti national slogan. Very difficult for ordinary people to digest. We all should at first try to identify those responsible and allow law to take its course of action.

      1. There is lot of talk about tax payers’ money. You do realise that JNU folks are not eating up all the money. The funds you talk about is nothing compared to the amount of research and knowledge produced in JNU every year. Please keep in mind that the ideas and knowledge that all of us keep consuming are largely generated in top universities like JNU (and then reaching us through mass media or books). And please do read the research papers produced in JNU, books by JNU professors and also the university syllabus to understand what exactly is being taught there, instead of merely jumping into inclusions about the nature of the university.

  6. The ‘nationalist’ BJP/RSS government is out to persecute all ‘anti-nationals’ in India. Raising slogans against communalism and Casteism in the Indian political-social system and questioning somebody’s hanging are the crimes for which perpetrators should be hanged. But behold we must know few facts about these ‘nationalist’ Indians.
    Just on the eve of Independence the English organ of the RSS, Organizer (dated August 14, 1947) denigrated the choice of the Tri-colour as the National Flag in the following words: “The people who have come to power by the kick of fate may give in our hands the Tricolour but it never be respected and owned by Hindus. The word three is in itself an evil, and a flag having three colours will certainly produce a very bad psychological effect and is injurious to a country.”
    These ‘nationalists’ sided with the British rulers during freedom movement and are committed to convert India into a Hindu Pakistan. They ran coalition governments with the Muslim League in 1942. They organized recruitment camps for the British Army when Netaji was trying to liberate India militarily.
    They are taking are taking ‘stringent’ actions against JNUSU president and other students but the same ‘nationalist’ lot was sleeping in Kumbhkaran mode when Hindutva cadres celebrated ‘vadh’ of father of Nation on January 30 in different parts of the country.
    These ,nationalists, ran coalition government with PDP in J&K and are going to have another one soon. This is the same PDP which describes Afzal Guru as a great martyr and calls his hanging was travesty of justice and against constitution. It was not long ago that these ‘nationalists’ provided safe passage to a dreaded Islamist terrorist, Azhar Masood escorted by a BJP/RSS minister to Kandhhar. Surely, nobody can beat BJP/RSS in hypocrisy.

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