Letter of solidarity with JNU: Students, Staff and Faculty, Ashoka University

We, the undersigned—who study and work at Ashoka University, as well as the alumni of the Young India Fellowship, in our private capacity—write to voice our solidarity with the students and faculty at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). Recent events at JNU, including the arrest of the JNUSU President over the charge of sedition, as well as other disproportionate measures, amount to a deeply troubling attack on academic and cultural freedom. We strongly condemn the display of brute force by the police, who were given free entry to the campus, including hostels, to question, detain and arrest students and faculty members. We protest the lack of police protection to those students and faculty, and condemn the use of State force against democratic expressions of dissent.

As proponents of liberal education, we believe that societies can only grow when they foster intellectual engagement with fundamental social questions and contemporary political issues through non-violent debate and argumentation. University campuses are, and should be, autonomous spaces where people can peacefully express as well as challenge dissent and opinions. However, the recent spate of events involving many university campuses across the country has posed a serious threat to the sanctity of such spaces as well as the democratic right to dissent and freedom of speech and expression. This includes the turn of events that led to Rohith Vemula’s death at the University of Hyderabad, the withholding of grants by the Ministry of Human Resource Development to Panjab University, and several instances of violent disruption of the screening of the film Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai in campuses across the country.

We condemn the State-backed misuse of the charge of sedition, a colonial era provision in the Indian Penal Code, against the JNUSU President, Kanhaiya Kumar. In the documented absence of any allegedly ‘anti-national’ actions or rhetoric on his part, we see the charge as an attempt to stifle dissent from the dominant order and silence critique of the State. We strongly believe that the provision against sedition, which was repealed in the United Kingdom itself in 2009, has no place in modern democracy. Most immediately, we strongly disapprove of the action of certain lawyers and a Member of the Legislative Assembly who physically attacked JNU students and faculty members as well as journalists outside the Patiala Court House premises on 15th February, 2016.

We fear that the continued State inaction against such instances of violence will foster an environment in which the label “anti-national” or “traitor” can be imposed on every voice of dissent.

We urge that:

the JNU campus be restored to normalcy and the police be withdrawn from all parts of the campus.

the JNUSU President, Kanhaiya Kumar be released from police custody immediately and all charges be dropped against him.

such unconstitutional actions be denounced.

we be allowed to nurture our universities as tolerant, democratic spaces where dissent and disagreement is respected, discussions are nurtured, and critical thinkers are born.

Faculty

Ajit Mishra

Bhaskar Dutta

Malvika Maheshwari

Alex Watson

Debarati Roy

Mandakini Dubey

Anisha Sharma

Durba Chattaraj

Maya Saran

Anunaya Chaubey

Gilles Verniers

Nayanjot Lahiri

Anuradha Saha

Gwendolyn Kelly

Rajendran Narayanan

Aparajita Dasgupta

Jonathan Gil Harris

Ratna Menon

Aparna vaidik

Kranti Saran

Ravindran Sriramachandran

Arunava Sinha

Kunal Joshi

Saikat Majumdar

Aruni Kashyap

M A Ahmad Khan

Supriya Nayak

Pulapre Balakrishnan

Madhavi Menon

Vaiju naravane

Bharat Ramaswami

Malabika Sarkar

Vishes Kothari

Staff

Adil Shah

Kanika Singh

Shiv D Sharma

Aniha Brar

Karuna

Shreya Khedia

Anu Singh

Meena S. Wilson

Sudarshana Chanda

Anuja Kelkar

Mercia Prince

Suha Gangopadhyay

Charu Singh

Priyanka Kumar

Sukanya Banerjee

Chiranjit mahato

Sarah Afraz

Sushmita Nath

Dr Maaz Bin Bilal

Saumya Varma

Swarnim Khare

Harshita Tripathi

Saurav Goswami

Tanita Abraham

Ishan de Souza

Sayan Chaudhuri

Zehra

Sushmita Samaddar

Surya Raman

Sandeep Saraswal

Apoorva Gupta

Aditya Sarin

Chandan Sharma

Alumni

Aafaque R Khan

Kaavya Gupta

Rishi Iyengar

Akanksha

Kande Sruthi Niveditha

Ritesh Agarwal

Akshay Barik

Kaustubh Khare

Rohini Singh

Ananta Seth

Maansi Verma

Rupali Kapoor

Antony Arul Valan

Malini Bose

Sai Krishna Kumaraswamy

Anushka Siddiqui

Mayank Sharma

Sakshi Ghai

Ashish Kumar

Mrudula Nujella

Shahzaib Ahmed

Ashweetha

Neil Maheshwari

Shaleen Wadhwana

Avni Ahuja

Neelakshi Tewari

Shashank Mittal

Chaarvi Badani

Nikita Saxena

Shivangi Pareek

Danish Ahmad Mir

Nina Sud

Shrestha Mullick

Debanshu Roy

Nipun Arora

Shweta Subbaraman

Deepika Ghosh

Parushya

Simeen Kaleem

Devleena Chatterji

Pavithra Srinivasan

Simranpreet Oberoi

Dhaneesh Jameson

Poornima Sardana

Sonal Jain

Dhwani Sabesh

Pragya Mukherjee

Subhodeep Jash

Hardika Dayalani

Prama Neeraja

Tanuj Bhojwani

Harsh Mani Tripathi

Rahul Sreekumar

Taysir Moonim

Harsh Snehanshu

Rajat Nayyar

Vaishnavi Viraj

Himanshu Ranjan

Ratul Chowdhury

Venkat Prasath

Jahanara Rabia Raza

Rimjhim Roy

Vishal Khatri

2 thoughts on “Letter of solidarity with JNU: Students, Staff and Faculty, Ashoka University

  1. K SHESHU BABU

    Private educational institutes and universities staff and students expressing solidarity is very happy development as they ae expressing their resentment despite being administered under private corporates.

  2. Pingback: Ashoka University and Young India Fellowship – In depth (Part 1) – A Thought Journal

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