Category Archives: religion

Statement on the Events at HCU and JNU From Faculty of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences



We, the undersigned, are deeply shocked and dismayed by the processes that led to the suicide of Rohith Vemula at HCU in January and the ongoing attacks on students and faculty of JNU. At Hyderabad Central University, RohithVemula a Dalit research scholar was labelled as anti-national and driven to suicide in January through systematic persecution. At Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi over the past few days, Kanhaiya Kumar, the President of the JNU Students Union is held in police custody on the trumped up charge of sedition. On February 15, 2016, the police stood by as mute spectators while a group of lawyers and hooligan elements attacked students and faculty of JNU who had gone to the Patiala House courts in Delhi in solidarity with Kanhaiya Kumar who was to be produced there. Continue reading Statement on the Events at HCU and JNU From Faculty of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences

Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa! : To A Student from CDS

Dear Student from CDS who pasted the posters criticising  our collective effort to stand with JNU

I write in response to the views that you expressed on those posters. First of all, let me tell you how much I’d have appreciated if you expressed those views openly right from the beginning, so that we could have had a proper debate. I do wish we stopped scribbling comments on each others’ posters – this is an open campus, and surely, we don’t practice the Sangh Parivar’s intolerance of a contrary opinion. No one, I assure you, will harm you in any way, and I am sure all my fellow teachers, students, and non-teaching staff will join me in assuring you thus.

Continue reading Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa! : To A Student from CDS

A letter to Umar Khalid: Pallavi Paul

Guest Post by Pallavi Paul

Dear Umar,

My name is Pallavi Paul and like you I am a PhD student at JNU.

I write this letter to apologize to you. What thoughts must be crossing your mind and that of your family, friends and comrades- as bloodthirsty, jingoist goons are on a shameless head hunt for you and your friends. I apologize to you for the poverty of imagination of a state that brands you as anti-national, while continues to trample on the rights and bodies of those living within its borders from Pulwama to New Delhi to Hyderabad. I apologize to you that you find yourself in a society where to echo the feelings of thousands of Kashmiris, to think of yourself as first devoted to the idea of justice before any arbitrary construct of the nation, to be moved by suffering, to critique capital punishment – is considered an act of terrorism. In a beautiful post on Facebook your sister lovingly called you a “communist paagal”. I apologize to you that this current oppressive climate is too cramped for your magical madness. The imagination of a beautiful world which has place not only for sangh certified, brahminically privileged, self- affirming ‘Indian-ness’, but for everyone who has found themselves left outside of this fold- the landless, the stateless, those without the protections of caste, class, religion, gender or nation.

What a wonderful name you chose for the event on the 9th of February – Country Without A Post Office. After, one of Agha Shahid Ali’s most haunting works, which references a time in the 1990s when no letters were delivered to Kashmir. There was no way for people to talk to or hear one another. You chose to think about the punishment accorded to Afsal Guru, along with this history. Your efforts to create a conversation, a debate on what it means to take a human life, is today being branded as evidence of your anti-nationalism. I apologize to you for the amnesia and the fragile ego of this country, which is unable to revisit its history without a shred of doubt or criticality. Where the only way to serve the cause of the country is by mouthing its praises and letting it rot in its own status quo and not by bringing to it newer questions, possibilities and challenges.

Many television channels like Times Now, News X, Zee have been ruthless and vicious in trying to establish links between you and terrorist organizations like the Jaish- e- Mohammad. I am sorry that you are living in a country where your name makes it so easy for this connection to be made. While comrade Kanhaiya is still in Police Custody fighting the preposterous charge of sedition, even as I write this to you- he has at the very minimum the assurance that he will not be linked to an Islamist Terrorist Organization. You, dear Umar do not even have that. Even that you are a self proclaimed atheist is not guarantee against prejudiced links being made between the religion you were born into and your political beliefs. That you made a choice outside of religion and the various forms of violence that its fundamentalist interpretations throw up, has been drowned in the noise being whipped up by vigilante, self proclaimed ‘nationalists’.

Like every storm this too will pass. The arrogance of this regime will be its undoing. Today there is a report in the Hindu, where the Central Government has denied receiving any report linking you to terrorist outfits. It is being widely shared on social media with the hashtag #weareumarkhalid. We know that your social media account has been hacked , but be assured that many voices are also rising in your support. I do not know when or whether you will be able to read this letter, but I hope that whenever we meet we will be able to celebrate freedom, justice and the spirit of critique. The seasons will change and the breeze will blow more merrily.

Take care of yourself dear comrade, the struggle is on.

Lal Salaam!

Pallavi Paul is a filmmaker and a PhD candidate at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University.

On framing JNU for an imaginary crime: Aditya Sarkar

This is a guest post by ADITYA SARKAR

JNU has entered an indefinite state of siege. Police have been swarming all over campus, raiding hostels, picking up students and interrogating them. The ABVP, predictably, have been directing them to the lairs of ‘anti-national elements’. When immense demonstrations of public solidarity with the accused students were organized, ABVP activists have attacked these, in one case mounting a violent physical assault on a visiting speaker. The JNU administration has gone to the extent of cutting off the power supply to the microphones used at a protest meeting. At Patiala House on Monday the 15th of February, the BJP’s MLAs and what appear to be a group of lawyers have assaulted JNU students, faculty and supporters in full view of the police, with what can only be regarded as smug impunity. More than one observer has remarked that this is the Emergency all over again.

It is clear that the arrayed forces of the central government are pitted against a campus which has long been an object of hatred for the Right. There’s no telling how matters will develop in the days and weeks to come. So it might be necessary to step back a bit and consider the sequence of events that led to the current situation.

In the past month, JNU students organized a protest meeting which raised the issue of Kashmiri rights, and drew attention – just as Rohith Vemula’s protest in Hyderabad had done – to the execution of Afzal Guru in 2013. Since the mainstream news outlets systematically censor any attempt to reopen that extremely murky case, it’s worth reminding ourselves of precisely why the execution was so controversial. The terrorist attack on Parliament in December 2001 produced a police investigation on which serious doubt was cast from the beginning. Afzal Guru’s laptop and mobile phone, key pieces of evidence, had not been sealed prior to investigation. One of the other accused in the case, a Delhi University lecturer (who was later emphatically acquitted) was viciously framed by Zee News, which used the police charge-sheet to make a documentary ‘establishing’ his guilt. The court proceedings were even more revealing. The Supreme Court admitted that there was no hard evidence to conclusively establish Afzal Guru’s involvement in criminal conspiracy. But these admissions were merely qualifications to what was perhaps the most extraordinary decision in the history of the judiciary in independent India. Afzal Guru was eventually hanged in 2013 on the basis that only this would appease ‘the collective conscience of the nation society’.

Continue reading On framing JNU for an imaginary crime: Aditya Sarkar

If You Can’t Beat Them, Join ’em – Or, Ente Dinkeswara!

A new wave, nay, tsunami, of (THE) Faith has risen in Kerala. Soon, it will sweep the Nation.  This is the mighty thrust of Lord Dinkan, now known all over Kerala as Dinkamatam – or Dingoism.

…. Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red/ Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O Dinka,/ Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed ... [from ‘Ode to Dinka’ by the early Dinka devotion poet Muroidea Muridae Murinae, later stolen by Shelley and rewritten as ‘Ode to the West Wind’. Note that Dinkan,  superhero airborne rat and Shelley’s West Wind are both powers of the Air]

If you don’t believe me, visit this url:

Now, like many others, I too was an unbeliever until I went there. One click, and I knew this was truly Faith. Market logic is nowadays the true marker of anything genuine (redefined an anything worth pursuing), and Dinkoism is unmatched in this regard. Even Amritanandamayi who successfully packages and sells all styles of Hinduism (the astrologer-obsessed style, the Saibaba-singing-style, the Sivakasi-print style, the shallow version of the Upanishadic style, the Christian-inflected Hugging-Mother style, the belligerent Hindutvavadi-style) cannot match him. Upon opening this Divine page, my eyes fell upon a notice in Malayalam which said: Mega offer before the world ends in 2012 [that needs updating, I suppose – small error; the spirit is more important] . 100 % guarantee in securing sin-free existence. Many years of service. Ridding of curses undertaken responsibly. We have no branches. Now, what further proof did I need to be convinced that this was the true Faith? Who doubts now that faith in the Logic of the Market precedes faith in faith? The Logos of Dinkan and the Logic of the Market are in perfect harmony!

Continue reading If You Can’t Beat Them, Join ’em – Or, Ente Dinkeswara!