The Anatomy of a Disappearance: Shehla Rashid

Guest Post by Shehla Rashid. Videos by Haider Saif and Samim Asgor Ali

Students Gathering in a Vigil for Najeeb Ahmed at JNU

 

Think of the person closest to you, and the place that they hold in your daily life, the bittersweet memories that they create each day in your life, the daily fights and the moments of affection. At times, you fight and simply want to go away from one another, seeking a temporary calm from each other’s absence. You resolve never to call him/her again, or to speak to her/him anymore. However, by the time dusk falls, you realise the emptiness of your time without them, and you make a phone call, speaking reservedly, trying not to sound desperate or sappy. You tell them that you are coming home, and ask whether you need them to get anything- as if that were the reason for the phone call. This person could be you sister, your partner, or your best friend. Continue reading “The Anatomy of a Disappearance: Shehla Rashid”

Freedom and the University – Reflections from a Teacher: Rimi.B.Chatterjee

Guest Post by RIMI B.CHATTERJEE. Photographs by RONNY SEN.

Graffiti on Jadavpur University Walls. Photograph by Ronny Sen
Graffiti on Jadavpur University Walls. Photograph by Ronny Sen

There has been a lot of noise about the recent agitation at Jadavpur University, and a lot of slanted media coverage. Allow me to set the record straight on a number of points.

Continue reading “Freedom and the University – Reflections from a Teacher: Rimi.B.Chatterjee”

Let the flower bloom in Jadavpur: Arindam Majumdar

This is a guest post by ARINDAM MAJUMDAR

Last week the columns of many newspapers took a comprehensive look at the imbroglio that has gripped Jadavpur University and concluded that the movement was a backdoor attempt by the beleaguered Left to crawl its way back into the political arena of the state. In doing so, they have unwillingly lend political colours to a movement that has been a silver lining amidst the dark cloud of indecency that has almost but killed the political environment of Bengal, once revered for its Bhadrolok culture and statesman leaders.

Student unrest in college campus is not a new phenomenon in Bengal. This community has always been politically aware and has not hesitated to stand up against any form of oppression or state sponsored violence. In the 1960s when the US forces invaded Vietnam, cries of Amar naam, tomar naam, Vietnam echoed in the anti-war demonstrations in the streets of Kolkata and the students were at the forefront of it. During the heydays of Naxal movement in 1970s, college students, including that of Jadavpur University, participated in the bloody street battles of Kolkata. This author does not intend to dwell on the motives behind those violent days, but it cannot be denied that brilliant students left behind their secure career and dreamt of turning a system, that they considered as oppressive, upside down. Continue reading “Let the flower bloom in Jadavpur: Arindam Majumdar”

#Hokkolorob – Images from a Jadavpur Solidarity Meeting in Jantar Mantar, Delhi

Here are some images from a  meeting held in solidarity with Jadavpur University Students at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, on Thursday, September 2014. Students from Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Indian Institute of Mass Communications, teachers and professors from different universities in Delhi, Jadavpur University Ex-Students, Workers and Professionals from the Delhi NCR Region spoke at the meeting. A signature campaign was undertaken, and the assembled people wrote their statements on to a scroll in support of their friends at Jadavpur.

All Photographs are by Akhil Kumar, Youth Ki Awaaz. 

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Khushi Ram, a terminated worker from the Maruti Suzuki Factory at Manesar had come from Haryana to express the solidarity that the workers of the Delhi-NCR region have for the students of Jadavpur University. He read a poem at the gathering. Kafila caught up with him as the meeting was about to end. Here is a video of him reading his poem for the readers of Kafila, and a brief record of a conversation with him about solidarity between workers and students.

Missing Person Notice: Ben Zachariah

Guest Post by Benjamin Zachariah

Looking for Prof. Bose
Looking for Prof. Bose

It was not so long ago that Sugata Bose, now Lok Sabha Member for Jadavpur, made his way back from Harvard to serve his people. West Bengal had voted for ‘poriborton’, ‘change’, and as everybody assumed that Bengalis loved their fellow-men who had been anointed abroad, Sugata Bose returned to conquer the heights of Bengali higher education. The plan was to use a brand name within a brand name to shore up another brand name : Harvard, Netaji, Presidency. The Trinamul Congress, Bose was confident, would not interfere with his plans. Or so he said in public; his mother, Krishna Bose, had been the Trinamul Congress’s Presidential candidate, and long regarded as the force behind the attempted bhadramahilafication of Didi, apparently a prerequisite for political acceptability in West Bengal (otherwise known as Waste Bengal or Poschimbongobongo). It was therefore no surprise that his plans did not diverge from the plans of the TMC, although ‘internal differences’ were often heard of. It was also no surprise that, as the attempts to turn Presidency ‘University’ into the font of moral and intellectual legitimation for the TMC faltered, Bose took the mantle of his great-uncle upon himself and stood as a candidate for the TMC in the Lok Sabha elections, from the Jadavpur constituency. There was not even the pretence that Sugata Bose stood on his own credentials: his campaign marches were led by a child in Netaji uniform and Netaji glasses, prompting a complaint to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

Now, in the Jadavpur constituency, duly won by Netaji’s heir, and not by a hair’s breadth, developments at Jadavpur University are cause for concern.

Continue reading “Missing Person Notice: Ben Zachariah”

Note of Solidarity with the Students of Jadavpur University: Jagriti

Guest Post from Jagriti, Women’s Development Cell, Bharati College, Delhi University

(The authors of this post sent it to us at Kafila saying –  “…since we don’t have any direct mean of contacting them (Students of Jadavpur University), we wish to do so through, if possible, your website”. Accordingly, we are uploading this post to honour their wishes and their sense of solidarity)

Dear students of Jadavpur University (JU),

We, members of Jagriti, the Women’s Development Cell of Bharati College, University of Delhi, pledge our support to your struggle for gender justice and administrative and pedagogical accountability. We are deeply disturbed to receive news of administrative indifference to sexual harassment and of the consequent police brutality in JU campus. We unanimously and unequivocally condemn JU administration and the West Bengal police for ignoring students’ valid demands and for orchestrating violence onto students.

In iterating our support to you, we iterate also the belief that the entire administrative mechanism of JU failed to protect its own students. We hold the Vice-Chancellor (VC) and the Dean of Students responsible for not ensuring that the students’ demands were satisfactorily addressed; we also hold the Internal Complaints Committee responsible for letting what could have been only a campus-specific issue escalate into a major humanitarian and academic crisis. This incident is a lesson not just for JU but for educational institutions and workplaces globally to comprehensively commit themselves to gender justice and to accountability. University administrations are in anyway obliged to engage with their students in healthy and open dialogues on each and every issue that the students, persons whom the university is supposed to service, feel pertinent, and to do the complete opposite, to break down all communication and instead call armed police personnel to violently disperse students is totally unacceptable. JU has been known nationally as well as internationally as a hub of free and liberal thinking, and this shocking attempt to choke dissent out of it attracts our unstinting condemnation.

We support your demand for the non-extension of the tenure of Mr. Chakrabarti, the current interim VC. This issue is political, but it does not belong to any political party, and we commend your transcending political barriers in pursuance of your struggle against the JU administration. We commend your courage, strength and commitment to gender justice and to human rights, and offer our condolences for the losses which you have suffered these past few days. Through this note, we also appeal to the Governor of West Bengal to initiate a magisterial enquiry into the police brutality on JU campus, and have all officials, JU as well as police, who ordered this dismissed from service and tried in a court of law for gross dereliction of duty and for grievous injury to innocent lives.

Jagriti unanimously stands in solidarity with the complainant and the students of Jadavpur University.

This post was sent to us by Pallavi Rohatgi on behalf of Jagriti at Bharati College, Delhi University.

Jadavpur’s Infectious Autumn Thunder Goes Viral: Kasturi

Guest post by Kasturi

One of the slogans churned out of the womb of turbulent Paris in the Maydays of 1968 was ‘Don’t trust anyone over 30’. The student uprising of May ‘68 with its audacity and exaggeration might have failed. Yet the mahamichhil (grand rally) called by students which took command over the heart and pulse of Kolkata on 20th September was a literal, vivid, living embodiment of this slogan. As I stood with a video camera on a spot on the Jawaharlal Nehru Road, with hope to capture the moments and 50,000 faces that made history with each footstep, all I could see was an ocean of people most of who had perhaps not even reached their twenty fifth year, and many of who were walking their very first rally. Those slightly older, those weathered yet young at heart paced alongside them in solidarity. ‘Such a student gathering – so huge, determined and disciplined – I have not seen in my life’, wrote poet Sankha Ghosh, ‘This really moved me. It’s very early to say if this will mark the beginning of a new era but I will reiterate this is one of the biggest student rallies I have seen in my life’.

The rally was replete with slogans reflecting basic demands of the movement, but there was a unifying chant, rather a call to action, that instantly bonded with and caught the fancy of the first timers that hit the street – Hok, Hok, Hok Kolorob (‘let there be clamour’). A call, ripped off from a popular song by Bangladeshi singer Ornob and used as hashtag on social media to mobilize – was surreal, refreshing, imaginative enough to break the deafening silence, stupor and suffocation strangling students’ aspirations for democracy, freedom of expression and association across education campuses of Bengal. The other interesting aspect of this call was that unlike regular slogans where someone leads and the rest follow, here there was no single lead but many voices all chanting the four words in unison, accompanied by clapping of hands. As a comrade observed, ‘the zeitgeist and slogan of the contemporary present is #hokkolorob’!’ (‘Kolorob’/ ‘kalrav’, roughly translated here as ‘clamour’, conveys the sense of a symphony of birdsong in many Indian languages.) Continue reading “Jadavpur’s Infectious Autumn Thunder Goes Viral: Kasturi”