University of Texas Students and Faculty stand with JNU

 

We, the undersigned, students, scholars, and faculty of the University of Texas at Austin, stand in solidarity with the students, faculty, and staff at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi against the illegal and unconscionable crackdown by police. We demand an immediate end to all police action on campus, a withdrawal of all frivolous charges against the President of JNU Students’ Union, Kanhaiya Kumar, and other students, as well as an end to the campaign of harassment and intimidation against students at the university. With them, we affirm the autonomy of the university as a non-militarized space for freedom of thought and expression. Accordingly, we condemn police presence on campus and the harassment of students on the basis of their political beliefs. 

We believe that these actions by the Indian state and its associated groups and institutions are part of a larger campaign to stifle dissenting voices in the country, especially on university campuses which have persistently resisted the capitalist, Brahmanical hegemony of the current government. This was clearly evident in the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula, a Dalit PhD student at Hyderabad Central University (HCU) last month. The similarity of the modus operandi in Hyderabad and Delhi is striking: Rohith and his comrades had been accused of ‘anti-national’ activities for their condemnation of the hanging of Yakub Memon, and suspended from their academic positions on these undemocratic grounds. Similar charges have been framed against the students of JNU for organizing an event in solidarity with the struggle of Kashmiri people for their right to self-determination. To make matters murkier, it is now certain that at the event, which also marked the third anniversary of the execution of Afzal Guru, the ABVP was involved in raising the controversial slogans that are being cited to justify the sedition charge. We are of the firm opinion that protesting against state violence is a fundamental right that must not become vulnerable to arbitrary violation by governments, police and university administrations.

We believe that the colonial-era laws of sedition — already diluted and read down by the Supreme Court — are an embarrassment to India’s democratic principles. The criminalization of dissent in this case reveals how India’s current political leadership has been unable to respect diversity and guarantee the full legal rights of its people. Its political program imagines the citizen as upper caste, heterosexual, male, Hindu; its economic program necessitates a blind faith in neoliberalism; and its social program continually imagines an enemy – the Muslim, the Dalit, the Left. It is not surprising that a government so debilitated and blinkered by its ideological narrowness has invoked the charge of sedition and sent police forces into the JNU campus, an action reminiscent of the worst years of Emergency.

We are also distressed by views expressed in certain sections of the Indian media regarding the legitimacy of political activism in public universities. This argument claims that since central and state governments subsidize education in public institutions, it is the responsibility of beneficiaries to refrain from critiquing state policies and to solely prioritize their studies. We firmly reject this cost-benefit understanding of education as shallow, apolitical, and deeply reactionary. As the saying goes, ‘education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire’. The current administration and sections of the media would prefer students to remain uncritical of the violence of Brahmanism, communalism, and neoliberal capitalism. But the Rohiths of the world will keep lighting a fire and keep burning down bigotry. We believe that both public education and free speech are fundamental rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution, rights that have been earned through long struggle and rights that we will keep fighting for in India and elsewhere as we face systematic neoliberal onslaughts on dissent and education.

To our friends, colleagues and comrades in JNU, HCU, FTII and elsewhere, we stand with you in your resistance against state sponsored violence, which curbs any form of dissent on the one hand, and on the other, condones hate speech by Hindu nationalists. We believe that scholarship and the concomitant development of our critical faculties should be used in dreaming of and implementing a better, pluralistic and just society.

 

  1. Charlotte Giles, PhD Student, Department of Asian Studies
  2. Snehal Shingavi, Associate Professor, Department of English
  3. Ramna Walia, PhD Student, Department of Radio-Television-Film
  4. Adolfo R Mora, PhD Student, Department of Radio-Television-Film
  5. Madiha Haque, MA Student, Department of Asian Studies
  6. Saif Shahin, PhD Candidate, School of Journalism
  7. Saleha Parvaiz, MA Student, Department of Asian Studies
  8. Rupali Warke, Phd Student, History Department
  9. Kathleen Longwaters, PhD Student, Department of Asian Studies
  10. Rubi Sanchez, PhD Student, Department of Asian Studies
  11. Claire Cooley, PhD Student, Department of Middle Eastern Studies
  12. Justin Ben-Hain, PhD Student, Department of Asian Studies
  13. Afsar Mohammad, Senior Lecturer, Department of Asian studies
  14. Aniruddhan Vasudevan, PhD Student, Department of Anthropology
  15. JhuCin Jhang, PhD Student, Department of Communication Studies
  16. Julia Dehm, Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Law
  17. Charlotte Nunes, UT English Graduate, Postdoctoral Fellow, Southwestern University
  18. Zack Shlachter, PhD Student, Department of History
  19. Seth Uzman, Undergraduate, Department of Mathematics, Department of Economics
  20. Abikal Borah, PhD Student, Department of History
  21. Charalampos Minasidis, PhD Student, Department of History
  22. Sam Lauber, Undergraduate, Department of Computer Science
  23. Heather Houser, Associate Professor, Department of English
  24. Robert Oppenheim, Associate Professor, Department of Asian Studies
  25. Barbara Harlow, Professor, Department of English
  26. Yoalli Rodríguez Aguilera, PhD Student, Institute of Latin American Studies
  27. Tathagatan Ravindran, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Anthropology
  28. Prisca Gayles, PhD Student, Institute of Latin American Studies
  29. Jack Loveridge, PhD Candidate, Department of History
  30. Chloe L. Ireton, Department of History
  31. Luis Cataldo, undergraduate, Department of English
  32. Swapnil Rai, PhD Candidate, School of Communication
  33. Heather Hindman, Associate Professor, Department of Asian Studies
  34. Magdalena Saldaña, PhD Student, School of Journalism
  35. Danielle Kilgo, PhD Candidate, School of Journalism
  36. Kristen Hogan, Education Coordinator, Gender & Sexuality Center
  37. Robert Jensen, Professor, School of Journalism
  38. Ryan Sharp, PhD Student, Department of English
  39. Elizabeth Picherit, PhD Student, Department of English
  40. Regina Mills, PhD Student, Department of English
  41. Isaac McQuistion, Masters Student, Department of Asian Studies
  42. Hannah V. Harrison, PhD Student, Department of English
  43. Kristie Flannery, PhD Candidate, Department of History
  44. Omer Ozcan, PhD Candidate,Department of Anthropology
  45. Nikola Rajic, PhD Candidate, Department of Asian Studies
  46. Mohammed Nabulsi, JD Candidate, School of Law
  47. Jason Brownlee, Professor, Department of Government
  48. Noah De Lissovoy, Associate Professor, College of Education
  49. Martha Ann Selby, Professor and Chair, Department of Asian Studies
  50. Amrita Mishra, PhD Student, Department of English
  51. Morgan C. O’Brien, Ph.D candidate, Department of Radio-Television- Film
  52. Tupur Chatterjee, Ph.D Candidate, Department of Radio-Television-Film
  53. John Morán González, Associate Professor, Department of English
  54. Colleen Montgomery, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Radio-Television-Film
  55. Caitlin McClune, Ph.D Candidate, Department of Radio-Television-Film
  56. Shilpa Parnami, PhD Candidate, Department of Curriculum and Instruction
  57. Jinsook Kim, PhD Student, Department of Radio-Television-Film
  58. Abdul Haque Chang, PhD alum, Department of Anthropology
  59. Pete Kunze, PhD Student, Department of Radio-Television-Film

One thought on “University of Texas Students and Faculty stand with JNU

  1. Pingback: Similarity of the modus operandi in Hyderabad and Delhi (JNU) is striking | hastakshep | हस्तक्षेप

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