Guest Post by Anirban Bhattacharya
To the puppets and their puppeteers…
Free speech cannot come with a price tag -10,000/- or 20,000/- or even a rupee!
Dissent cannot be evicted!
Ideas cannot be made out of bounds!
Reason cannot be rusticated!
The stubborn cowardice of those High with power has ensured one thing. What began as the students’ spring, is now going to have a simmering summer ahead – a summer of resistance, resolve, outrage and audacity! One thing we must assure both the puppets, be it Appa Rao or Jagdish Kumar, and those pulling their strings from Nagpur is that their High Level drama shall be matched by a Higher level of conviction from we the students. From Rohith’s HCU to Koonal’s EFLU to our JNU, from FTII, IIT Madras, Allahabad, Jadavpur, Patna to Chandigarh or TISS – let the mercury rise in rage this summer.
They are in a delusion. Appa Rao entered the campus as the semester was drawing to a close and exams were to begin. The HLEC in JNU too (as is their practiced cowardice over the years) had planned to time the punishments at a time of the end-semester exams and holidays. So, while they might feel that they have caught us at our weakest, well, they are certainly mistaken. The militant and successful agitations to ensure minimum wages for the workers in JNU, the fight to revoke the ban on the Forum against Operation Green Hunt, and several such historic battles have been fought and won despite exams and vacations. So, while the puppets and the puppeteers might be patting each others’ back in their delusion of having waited out the storm…lekin picture abhi baaki hai mere dost!
Not a step back is our motto! We have already seen how unprecedented assaults can evoke unprecedented responses and solidarities. Such are the demands of our times. So, this summer, we shall stay back during the vacations and fight it out at ground zero – in Freedom Square. Our message ought to be loud and clear. We had never accepted this farce named HLEC. So, as per the UGBM mandate, all punishments flowing from this bogus HLEC report is UNACCEPTABLE. It’s not a question of some having more severe punishments and some less. Its not about adjustments here and there. No punishment whatsoever is acceptable as none of us have committed any “crime”!
For instance, the order I received this morning says “any one found giving shelter” to me “in the campus shall invite disciplinary action against him/her”! Why should I have to clandestinely seek “shelter” in my own campus wherein I have spent a decade, which has virtually been my second home, where I have grown?? And why should anyone be punished for “sheltering” me?? Why should any one of us be fined, evicted, made out of bounds or rusticated? For what “crime”? Whether a student, ex-student or non-student. It is precisely this perverse, this vulgar idea of criminalising any form of dissent that we ought to resist and defeat. For us, it’s a fight to preserve the democratic space in this campus. It’s a fight to not allow any such precedent that will vitiate our democratic space even by an inch: our space to stand with Bastar, to stand with Maruti, to atand for social justice, to stand with justice for Rohith, to stand against Dadri, or to stand against patriarchy.
Anirban Bhattacharya is a research scholar at the Centre for Historical Studies in JNU. He is one of the students who have been indicted in the HLEC Report. He has been rusticated till July 15, and he has been prohibited from entering the JNU Campus for the next five years, by being declared ‘out of bounds’, effective from 25 July this year. This post is taken, with permission from Anirban Bhattacharya, from a status update on his Facebook page.