Tag Archives: Solidarity Statement

Statement of Solidarity with Kancha Ilaiah

[The following is a statement in support of scholar-activist Prof  Kancha Ilaiah, who is under attack from a number  of Hindutva organizations and  against whom the Hyderabad police recently registered a case for ‘hurting religious sentiments’. The tendency to  resort to police cases, in order to stifle any criticism of Hindutva and the regime has assumed menacing proportions, against which we stand  firmly with Kancha Ilaiah. Those who wish to add their names to the statement and express solidarity may do so by adding them as comments.]

We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the continued harassment, attacks on and intimidation of Prof Kancha Ilaiah at the hands of various Brahmin / brahminical organizations, police and the state administration of Telengana for his political writings and views.  We also hold responsible for this intimidatory environment, the Telugu media that reportedly published distorted and misleading reports of Prof Ilaiah’s speech.

While speaking at the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, a wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) on May 14, 2016, at Vijayawada (Amaravathi), Prof. Ilaiah had  said: “The Brahmins as a community have not contributed anything to the production process of the Indian nation. Even now their role in the basic human survival based productive activity is not there. On the contrary, they constructed a spiritual theory that repeatedly tells people that production is pollution.” Continue reading Statement of Solidarity with Kancha Ilaiah

Letter of solidarity with JNU: Students, Staff and Faculty, Ashoka University

We, the undersigned—who study and work at Ashoka University, as well as the alumni of the Young India Fellowship, in our private capacity—write to voice our solidarity with the students and faculty at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). Recent events at JNU, including the arrest of the JNUSU President over the charge of sedition, as well as other disproportionate measures, amount to a deeply troubling attack on academic and cultural freedom. We strongly condemn the display of brute force by the police, who were given free entry to the campus, including hostels, to question, detain and arrest students and faculty members. We protest the lack of police protection to those students and faculty, and condemn the use of State force against democratic expressions of dissent.

As proponents of liberal education, we believe that societies can only grow when they foster intellectual engagement with fundamental social questions and contemporary political issues through non-violent debate and argumentation. University campuses are, and should be, autonomous spaces where people can peacefully express as well as challenge dissent and opinions. However, the recent spate of events involving many university campuses across the country has posed a serious threat to the sanctity of such spaces as well as the democratic right to dissent and freedom of speech and expression. This includes the turn of events that led to Rohith Vemula’s death at the University of Hyderabad, the withholding of grants by the Ministry of Human Resource Development to Panjab University, and several instances of violent disruption of the screening of the film Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai in campuses across the country.

We condemn the State-backed misuse of the charge of sedition, a colonial era provision in the Indian Penal Code, against the JNUSU President, Kanhaiya Kumar. In the documented absence of any allegedly ‘anti-national’ actions or rhetoric on his part, we see the charge as an attempt to stifle dissent from the dominant order and silence critique of the State. We strongly believe that the provision against sedition, which was repealed in the United Kingdom itself in 2009, has no place in modern democracy. Most immediately, we strongly disapprove of the action of certain lawyers and a Member of the Legislative Assembly who physically attacked JNU students and faculty members as well as journalists outside the Patiala Court House premises on 15th February, 2016.

We fear that the continued State inaction against such instances of violence will foster an environment in which the label “anti-national” or “traitor” can be imposed on every voice of dissent.

We urge that:

the JNU campus be restored to normalcy and the police be withdrawn from all parts of the campus.

the JNUSU President, Kanhaiya Kumar be released from police custody immediately and all charges be dropped against him.

such unconstitutional actions be denounced.

we be allowed to nurture our universities as tolerant, democratic spaces where dissent and disagreement is respected, discussions are nurtured, and critical thinkers are born.

Faculty

Ajit Mishra

Bhaskar Dutta

Malvika Maheshwari

Alex Watson

Debarati Roy

Mandakini Dubey

Anisha Sharma

Durba Chattaraj

Maya Saran

Anunaya Chaubey

Gilles Verniers

Nayanjot Lahiri

Anuradha Saha

Gwendolyn Kelly

Rajendran Narayanan

Aparajita Dasgupta

Jonathan Gil Harris

Ratna Menon

Aparna vaidik

Kranti Saran

Ravindran Sriramachandran

Arunava Sinha

Kunal Joshi

Saikat Majumdar

Aruni Kashyap

M A Ahmad Khan

Supriya Nayak

Pulapre Balakrishnan

Madhavi Menon

Vaiju naravane

Bharat Ramaswami

Malabika Sarkar

Vishes Kothari

Staff

Adil Shah

Kanika Singh

Shiv D Sharma

Aniha Brar

Karuna

Shreya Khedia

Anu Singh

Meena S. Wilson

Sudarshana Chanda

Anuja Kelkar

Mercia Prince

Suha Gangopadhyay

Charu Singh

Priyanka Kumar

Sukanya Banerjee

Chiranjit mahato

Sarah Afraz

Sushmita Nath

Dr Maaz Bin Bilal

Saumya Varma

Swarnim Khare

Harshita Tripathi

Saurav Goswami

Tanita Abraham

Ishan de Souza

Sayan Chaudhuri

Zehra

Sushmita Samaddar

Surya Raman

Sandeep Saraswal

Apoorva Gupta

Aditya Sarin

Chandan Sharma

Alumni

Aafaque R Khan

Kaavya Gupta

Rishi Iyengar

Akanksha

Kande Sruthi Niveditha

Ritesh Agarwal

Akshay Barik

Kaustubh Khare

Rohini Singh

Ananta Seth

Maansi Verma

Rupali Kapoor

Antony Arul Valan

Malini Bose

Sai Krishna Kumaraswamy

Anushka Siddiqui

Mayank Sharma

Sakshi Ghai

Ashish Kumar

Mrudula Nujella

Shahzaib Ahmed

Ashweetha

Neil Maheshwari

Shaleen Wadhwana

Avni Ahuja

Neelakshi Tewari

Shashank Mittal

Chaarvi Badani

Nikita Saxena

Shivangi Pareek

Danish Ahmad Mir

Nina Sud

Shrestha Mullick

Debanshu Roy

Nipun Arora

Shweta Subbaraman

Deepika Ghosh

Parushya

Simeen Kaleem

Devleena Chatterji

Pavithra Srinivasan

Simranpreet Oberoi

Dhaneesh Jameson

Poornima Sardana

Sonal Jain

Dhwani Sabesh

Pragya Mukherjee

Subhodeep Jash

Hardika Dayalani

Prama Neeraja

Tanuj Bhojwani

Harsh Mani Tripathi

Rahul Sreekumar

Taysir Moonim

Harsh Snehanshu

Rajat Nayyar

Vaishnavi Viraj

Himanshu Ranjan

Ratul Chowdhury

Venkat Prasath

Jahanara Rabia Raza

Rimjhim Roy

Vishal Khatri

#StandWithJNU: Solidarity Statement by Academics in the UK

This is a statement by over three hundred and fifty academics based in the UK.

We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with the students, faculty, and staff of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). We condemn the BJP government-sanctioned police action in the JNU campus and the illegal detention of the JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar. We strongly condemn the manner in which political dissent is being stifled, reducing academic spaces to fortresses. We also condemn the widespread witch-hunt of left-wing students and student groups that this police action has unleashed.

These recent acts are representative of the larger trend that we have been observing – the imposition of an authoritarian and regressive agenda in institutions of higher learning from Films and Television Institute [FTII], Hyderabad Central University [HCU] to Jawaharlal Nehru University [JNU]. From the institutional murder of HCU student, Rohith Vemula, and the suppression of student protests at FTII to the illegal detention of the student union leader Kanhaiya Kumar and pervasive police presence at JNU, there has been a constant non- observance and disregard of administrative and legal norms as well as a gross infringement of the democratic rights of the student community. These actions are embedded in a deeply chauvinistic cultural nationalism, which espouses a casteist and Brahmanical, homophobic, and patriarchal worldview.

We strongly believe that student politics is being targeted currently by giving a new lease of life to a sedition law that was a draconian tool in the hands of the colonial state and has no place in a democracy. It is our democratic right to dissent, disagree, organise and struggle against state, institutions or policies that transgress and suppress democratic and egalitarian values. Expression of dissent cannot and should not be equated with being ‘anti-national’ (or any other such constructed category) and is definitely not punishable under law especially if it is non-violent.

Disguising targeted assault on oppositional student groups/political movements within the narrative binaries of nationalism/anti nationalism only reflects how vulnerable the BJP government feels in its own ability to provide accountable governance.

We also believe that institutions of higher learning should be publicly funded spaces for political engagement, debates, and critical discussions – a legacy campuses (be it JNU, DU, or FTII) have embodied. As they always have, university spaces should subsidise costs of education for students, irrespective of the political disposition of the students. A rather disturbing feature of the narratives around this issue has been the construction and furthering of an artificial dichotomy between academics and politics that suggests that being ‘political’ is an aberration. This would certainly appear to be the case, if seen through the neoliberal lens of perceiving education as an industry that produces ‘semester bred’ automated ‘disciplined’ individuals who are mere consumers.

However, as the nonviolent expressions of dissent by students in JNU clearly demonstrate, contrary to this neo liberal view of academia,we believe that ‘personal is political’ and there is no sphere that is devoid of politics.We believe that good academic work necessarily involves a critical engagement with society and its power inequities and in that sense is always politically engaged. This engagement thrives in the democratic space of the university where many dissenting views can be heard and debated. The vilification of JNU as a space of ‘anti-national’ politics is being carried out by ABVP and BJP in order to attack and break this democratic spirit of academic and political life in Indian universities.

As teachers, students, scholars, and academics from the UK, who are keenly observing the developments unfolding in JNU, we express our solidarity with the students, faculty and staff of JNU as they non-violently resist this infringement on their rights. We urge the Vice Chancellor of JNU to uphold the institutional autonomy and the democratic rights of the student community. We also urge the government of India to stop encroaching on our rights as citizens, students, activists, political and politicised subjects.

Continue reading #StandWithJNU: Solidarity Statement by Academics in the UK