5 Colleges Faculty and Student Statement in Solidarity with JNU

This is a statement sent by scholars at five universities in the U.S

We, the undersigned at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst, Smith College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, and Amherst College wish to express our solidarity with the students, faculty, staff and wider community of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), India’s premier academic institution. We demand that all charges against all students being targeted as ‘anti-national,’ including JNU Student Union president Kanhaiya Kumar, be dropped immediately. We understand the arrest of Mr. Kumar, and the intention to arrest or interrogate another 50 students on some unspecified list of the Delhi Police, to be associated with a wider campaign to quell dissent in India’s universities, a campaign which includes the harassment faced by Hyderabad Central University student Rohit Vemula, resulting in Mr. Vemula’s suicide. We are concerned about the well-being of the students who continue to be debarred from all academic activities at JNU, without any due process or proof of wrong doing, and we condemn the scapegoating and media trial of Umar Khalid, based largely upon his identity as a minority. We demand that the Delhi police should withdraw from the JNU campus. We believe that the ultimate responsibility for the campaign of harassment against universities throughout the country lies with the present Indian Government and we demand that the government desist.

We are aware and are in agreement with the fact that the case against Mr. Kumar is false in every way. We are also in agreement with eminent economist Professor Prabhat Patnaik, that the government’s actions are nothing less than the beginning of a campaign to undermine the Indian Constitution itself. The events in Hyderabad, JNU, and most recently, Jadavpur University, all point to a pattern of harassment, wherein the central government has deployed campus-based student groups to silence dissent. We take the use of the state’s machinery to physically attack vocal and articulate students speaking against the government extremely seriously. We are particularly concerned by this government’s tacit approval of the violence exhibited by lawyers at Patiala house this week. As scholars and students based in the US, we have already witnessed efforts by representatives of the Hindu right to undermine academic debate and scholarship in the context of South Asian Studies in the US and in India. We collectively represent years of scholarly and activist experience in addressing threats to academic freedom, and see that these threats are part of a larger project to undermine democracy and to rationalize a fundamentally unequal society.

None of the actions undertaken by any of the people arrested or under threat of arrest in the current situation in any way conform to the crime of sedition. They have all shown that India is a vibrant democracy, and they were using their constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression to peacefully speak against policies with which they disagreed. We believe that the very idea of prosecuting dissenting citizens for sedition runs counter to democratic principle.  We stand by those who have been unjustly targeted in this vicious campaign against democratic freedom. In this spirit, we urge the Vice Chancellor of JNU to act on behalf of the students whom he is sworn to protect, and we demand that the government cease its campaign against these individuals and the politics they represent.

Svati P. Shah, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Kavita Datla, Mount Holyoke College
Priyanka Srivastava, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Jennifer Hamilton, Hampshire College
Margaret Cerullo, Hampshire College
Dwaipayan Sen, Amherst College
Dale E. Peterson, Amherst College
Sue Darlington, Hampshire College
Lucas Wilson, Mount Holyoke College
Laura Briggs, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Deepankar Basu, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Ann Ferguson, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Suzanne Z. Gottschan, Smith College
Dan Clawson, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Krupa Shandilya, Amherst College
Nathalie S. Koenings, Hampshire College
Yael Rice, Amherst College
Shouvik Chakraborty, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Ragini Saira, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Devika Dutt, University of Massachusetts Amherst
James Heintz, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Janice Irvine, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Joya Misra, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Aaron Berman, Hampshire College
Kiran Asher, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Nusrat S Chowdhury, Amherst College
Banu Subramaniam, University of Massachusetts Amherst
James Crotty, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Michael Ash, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Abigail Boggs, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Millie Thayer, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Monica Ringer, Amherst College
Swati Birla, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Andy Rotman, Smith College
Betsy Hartmann, Hampshire College
Indira Peterson, Hampshire College
Ellie Siegel, Hampshire College
Kavita Khory, Mount Holyoke College
Miliann Kang, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Marina Kaplan, Smith College
Sahar Sadjadi, Amherst College
Gerald Epstein, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amina Steinfels, Mount Holyoke College
Sangeeta Kamat, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Julia Stephens, Yale University
Arpita Biswas, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Judith Frank, Amherst College
Suzanne Daly, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Uditi Sen, Hampshire College
Kevin Young, Department of History, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Julio Capo Jr., Department of History, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Martha Saxton, Amherst College
Marta Calas, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Bharat Rathod, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Vamsicharan Vakulabharanam, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Jacqueline Urla, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Abdul H. Kidwai, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Maryam Fatima, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Elisabeth Armstrong, Smith College
Mary Renda, Mount Holyoke College
Stellan Vinthagen, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Sanjiv Gupta, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Christopher Dole, Amherst College
N. Le, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Fareen Parvez, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Leyla Keough, Hampshire College
Marta Murray-Close, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Manuel Garcia, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Elif Babül, Mount Holyoke College
Monique Roelofs, Hampshire College
Constance Valis Hill, Hampshire College
Avery Fuerst , Graduate Employee Organization (GEO) UAW 2322
Mark Paul, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Laurel Smith-Doerr, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Michele Hardesty, Hampshire College
Matson Boyd, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Mariam Majd, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Omar S. Dahi, Hampshire College
Jyoti Iyer, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Sakshi Bhatia, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Rajesh Bhatt, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Margaret Speas, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Angelika Kratzer, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Barbara H. Partee, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Tom Roeper, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Neelofer Qadir, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Annette Hunt, University of Massachusetts
Jutta Sperling, Hampshire College
Barış Güven, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Marlene Gerber Fried, Hampshire College
Tyler Hansen, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Zhongjin Li, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Susan J. Tracy, Hampshire College
Elisa Martinez, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Valerie Joseph, Smith College
Amy Jordan, Hampshire College
Kristen Luschen, Hampshire College
Annie Rogers, Hampshire College
Wilson Valentín-Escobar, Hampshire College
Susana Loza, Hampshire College
Aracelis Girmay, Hampshire College
Roosbelinda Cardenas, Hampshire College
Pinky Hota, Smith College
Salman Hameed, Hampshire College
Helen Scharber, Hampshire College
Misun Lim, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Asha Nadkarni, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Bernadine Mellis, Mount Holyoke College
Andrea Lawlor, Mount Holyoke College
M.V. Lee Badgett, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Roosbelinda Cárdenas, Hampshire College
Manisha Sinha, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Ceren Soylu, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Gary Michael Tartakov, University of Massachusetts Amherst

 

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