Statements of Solidarity for Ramjas and DU: A Collation

Please find below a collation of statements of solidarity received by Kafila over the past fortnight since the shameful incidents of violence by the ABVP occurred on the 21st and 22nd of February 2017. These are from: Ramjas Alumna, Ambedkar University Delhi Faculty Association, O.P Jindal Teachers: Students and Durham University Politics and International Relations Society, U.S.A; and students and faculty at the University of Minnesota, U.S.A.

UMN STANDS WITH DU
University of Minnesota Students and Faculty

The statements are preceded by a short write-up on what Ramjas College has meant to its alumna, by ANUBHAV PRADHAN.

Nostalgia is made of more than just happiness. It is sulphurous too.

To many who spent three or more years of their life in Ramjas College, visuals of violence in and around it on 21 and 22 February 2017 have been a source of deep, personal shock. The footpath and the areas adjoining the college gate were often sites of lingering conversations between friends, offering moments of respite from studies, tensions accruing from impending exams, or relief to those who had just accomplished a hectic ECA festival and were there catching up their breath or exhaling smoke.

The ABVP struck twice, once attacking the college Seminar Room and then coming back the second day to attack students. In the hundredth year of Ramjas’ establishment, a college founded at a time when protest was an active ideal for most Indians, this singular episode of planned, institutional violence against students and teachers is a grim reminder of the brute silencing of interrogation, peaceful protest, dialogue and dissent being normalised across our colleges and universities, and in our society at large. The audacity with which these perpetrators and their ideologues brand entire institutions and diverse communities of students and academics as anti-national—and therefore fit recipients for their brute censure—also gives the lie to the intellectual and affective bankruptcy of a rapidly emergent cultural orientation premised on simplistic binaries of good and bad, right and wrong, national and anti-national. In a society—and nation—whose ideals are peace, dialogue, and inclusion, these attacks on students and teachers point to the deep ideological rot in the perpetrators’ conception of nation, nationality and nationalism.

As an alumnus of Ramjas College, I cherish the right to self-determination and open debate. I feel outraged that the students’ and faculties’ right to decide what discussion to hold and whom to invite for it within college premises was usurped in this manner. It is disturbing that this violence rippled across the campus as it were, with students being followed, identified and harassed in their personal spaces for having asserted their right to listen to discussions on Bastar and for not bowing down to bodily attacks perpetrated through stones and fisticuffs by members of the ABVP and their affiliates.

Most alumni like me are invested in our respective professions, but the foundations of study and work were laid for us by Ramjas’ teachers and the college’s vibrant culture of extra-curricular instruction. This experience has proved fundamental to our engagement with our immediate workspaces, surroundings, power structures, and our nation. Denying current and future students their right to freely and openly debate issues of their choice in fora of their choice is tantamount to denial of a basic academic right. Threatening and manhandling academicians guided by the spirit of enquiry towards generation of dialogue will prove detrimental to the quality of collegiate education in our nation. We collectively issue the following statement of solidarity with Ramjas’ students and teachers in this moment of crisis:

Statement by Ramjas Alumna

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A Small Matter of Security – Holding the Guilty Accountable for What Happened in Ramjas College on the 22nd of February: Shafey Danish

This is a guest post by SHAFEY DANISH

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Ramjas students and faculty held hostage inside campus by ABVP cadre

The violence that gripped Ramjas College on the 21st and 22nd of this month is now national news. We heard belligerent slogans by ABVP members of ‘chappal maro saalon ko’ (beat them with slippers), we saw students being chased on the campus, and we saw students being beaten up. All this culminated in a situation where students and teachers were held captive for over five hours within the campus premises. Let me emphasize that this violence was completely unprovoked.

On the 22nd of February, some of the students who were simply sitting with their friends were attacked. The police came and formed a cordon around them. Others joined the students in a gesture of solidarity. Teachers joined them to ensure that the students were not assaulted. The police cordon became their prison for the next five hours. And even then they were not safe.

They were repeatedly assaulted, threatened, and abused. All of this happened in front of their teachers and, more importantly, in front of the police, who, as is well known by now, did not do anything substantial. They could have maintained the cordon around the protesters, arrested those who were repeatedly carrying out the assaults, or – at the very least – prevented the attackers from coming back in (they had left for some time to attack the protest going on outside). But they did not. Whether this was because they were under pressure or because they were complicit is besides the point. The point is that students and teachers remained at the mercy of their attackers for over five hours.

But on the same day something far more ominous was also going on.

Continue reading “A Small Matter of Security – Holding the Guilty Accountable for What Happened in Ramjas College on the 22nd of February: Shafey Danish”

STATEMENT CONDEMNING Incidents of Violence by ABVP: Students and Academics From Around the World

 

We, the undersigned students and academics, gravely condemn the attack on the students and faculty of Delhi University on the 22nd of February, 2017. The students and faculty of Delhi University were expressing their democratic right to protest against the vandalism and hooliganism unleashed by the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) at Ramjas College, Delhi University, on the 21st of February, 2017. We oppose ABVP’s systematic and deliberate attempts to humiliate, terrorize and bully the students and the faculty members.
We also condemn the brutal, unconstitutional, and illegal actions taken by the Delhi Police against the students and faculty members. Delhi Police’s refusal to lodge legal detention and parading of students in buses, and scapegoating of democratic student and faculty body threatens and undermines values of the Constitution, and has created an environment of fear and dismay.

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STATEMENT CONDEMNING VIOLENCE AT RAMJAS COLLEGE: Students, Alumna and Associates of Department of English, Delhi University

We, the students, alumni and associates of the Department of English, Delhi University, unequivocally condemn the attack on the students and teachers at Ramjas College and on the university campus by violent protesters from the ABVP and/or other factions, outside and inside the college premises on the 21st and 22nd of February, 2017. We also condemn police inaction and the unprovoked assault on peaceful protesters, manhandling of women and students who were registering their dissent outside Maurice Nagar police station.

The attack on a faculty member of our Department has brought to light the glaring fact that none of us who uphold the right to a free exchange of ideas is safe in the university campus under the current circumstances. We assert that it is our most fundamental right as members of the university community to critically engage with ideas, discuss, debate and follow strands of thought to uncharted territories that remain under the cover of the protective gaze of social and political forces. We have been nurtured by the English Department, at the University of Delhi to question established readings of texts—both cultural and literary—to place them upside-down or to give new shape to them as the need be and we will not concede this ground to forces that wish to stagnate readings of literature, culture and the social at large. An attack on Dr. Prasanta Chakravarty is a blatant attack on each and every member of the English Department, as we have learned more than we can encompass in this statement from his lectures, ideas and discussions both inside and outside the classroom. He taught us to speak truth to power and this practice is most needed today when he was physically assaulted not more than five hundred meters away from the English Department.

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The story of the Indian budget: Where the camera failed? Muhammed Shafeeque CM

Despite the controversies of demonetization, the central government has again succeeded in deftly hijacking the minds of Indian citizens through a riveting speech made by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The budget seemed to be especially important given third quarter statistics which are filled with drawbacks of the demonetization policy. Thus we had a budget speech completely focused on digitalization of a country where the ‘digital divide’ stubbornly persists. As the budget theme (Transform, Energize, and Clean) attempted to glorify existing conditions, there were unsurprisingly no transformations in the overall economic framework except the expected tax reduction. In the zeal for “energizing”, the budget had clean forgotten the needs of the informal sector including agricultural sector. Even though the government provocatively claimed that it had cleaned up black money, it revealed no data regarding the amount of black money actually mopped up from the market.

Continue reading “The story of the Indian budget: Where the camera failed? Muhammed Shafeeque CM”

ABVP Students’ Violence at Ramjas College – Video Footage and Eye Witness Account

Story, Video and Photographs: PIYUSH NAGPAL AND DEBALIN ROY.

ABVP students stall seminar, turn violent at Ramjas College from Debalin Roy on Vimeo.

As is well known by now, a seminar organised by the English literary society of Ramjas College, Delhi University titled “Cultures of Protest” on Tuesday the 21st of February was disrupted by a huge mob of ABVP students. They threw stones/bricks into the seminar hall, shattering windows and injuring students, and in full view of Delhi Police, manhandled and beat up student participants. Delhi Police was barely able to control the situation and refused to offer protection to the invited speakers who were told by ABVP members,”We will disfigure your face in a way that you will be unrecognisable”. Mainstream news media has added little to our understanding of the harrowing day-long siege of a college campus space by bloodthirsty goons by presenting it as a “clash” that “broke out” (like a case of hives?!) between two student groups. Thereby implying that left hooligans and right hooligans engaged in their hoologanism while we as neutral public can sigh at the declining public behaviour of students and get back to our lives. Thankfully there are eyewitness accounts and videos that counter this ridiculous and dangerous false equivalence and drive home the point that once again, the opportunity to engage in speech, reason and words was violently cut short by those who wanted to hurt and maim.

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Rain and Revulsion: Prasanta Chakravarty

This is a GUEST POST by Prasanta Chakravarty

“Slime is the agony of water.”

~ Jean Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness


The Birth of Revulsion – Pranabendu Dasgupta

No certainty where each would go —
Suddenly the descent of a cloudburst, rain.
We stood, each where we were,
And stared at one another.
It is not good to be so close
“Revulsion is born” – someone had said

“Revulsion, revulsion, revulsion.”
Then, lighting a cigarette, some man
Muttered abuse at another next to him.
Like an abstract painting, spiralling like a gyre,
In a wee space
We slowly fragmented, dispersed.
Had it not rained, though,
We would have stepped out together.
Perhaps to the cinema, tasting a woman’s
Half-exposed breast with the eye,
Then laughing out loud,
We could head for the maidan!
Someone maybe would sing; someone
Would say, “I am alive”.

But it rained.

(Krittibas, Sharad Sankhya,  1386)

 ঘৃণার জন্ম

প্রনবেন্দু দাশগুপ্ত

কোথায় কে যাবে ঠিক নেই —
হঠাৎ দুদ্দাড় ক ‘রে বৃষ্টি নেমে এলো।
যেখানে ছিলাম, ঠিক সেইখানে থেকে
আমরা পরস্পরের দিকে তাকিয়ে রইলাম।

এত কাছাকাছি থাকা খুব ভালো নয়।
” ঘৃণার জন্ম হয় ” –কে যেন বললো
” ঘৃণা, ঘৃণা, ঘৃণা। ”
তারপর সিগ্রেট ধরিয়ে, আরো একজন
খুব ফিশফিশ ক ‘রে
পাশের লোককে গাল দিলো।
বিমূর্ত ছবির মতো তালগোল পাকিয়ে পাকিয়ে
ছোট্ট জায়গা জূড়ে
আমরা ক্রমশ ভেঙে, ছড়িয়ে পড়লাম।

বৃষ্টি না নামলে কিন্তু
আমরা একসঙ্গে বেরিয়ে পড়তাম।
হয়তো সিনেমা গিয়ে,রমণীর আধ -খোলা স্তন
চোখ দিয়ে চেখে
তারপর, হো হো ক ‘রে হেসে
ময়দানের দিক যাওয়া যেতো !
কেউ হয়তো গান গাইতো ; কেউ হয়তো
বলতো “বেঁচে আছি “।

কিন্তু বৃষ্টি নেমেছিলো।।

(কৃত্তিবাস, শারদ সংখ্যা ১৩৮৬)

Continue reading “Rain and Revulsion: Prasanta Chakravarty”