Statements and updates on turmoil in JNU after ABVP attacks students’ gathering

March 2, 2016

Statement from eminent intellectuals across the world

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Letter of Solidarity with JNU students and faculty from professionals, academics, artists in West Bengal

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DSU on Recent Repression at JNU

February 29, 2016

Gar ho Sake to Ab Koi Shamma Jalaiye
Is Daur-e-Siyasat ka Andhera Mitaiye

Friends and Comrades, from Democratic Students Union (DSU), we convey our revolutionary greetings to all of you for your fearless solidarity in the last few days against the attack on the students of our campus and the institutional autonomy of the university by the State after the 9th February programme organised by some students of JNU. The students of this campus have come out unitedly against the arrest of JNUSU president and malicious witch hunting of the organisers of the programme and other students of JNU based on false charges. We condemn the consorted conspiracy viciously led by ABVP, JNU administration, the police and a section of media on all the activists in the strongest possible words.

This is a time of rising fascism, when repressive state apparatus, right wing hooligans from RSS to ABVP, the university administration and the media are trying to criminalise student politics, crush democratic voices of dissent and attack progressive individuals who support people’s democratic movements and aspirations within and outside the country. And anyone who disagrees with the propaganda of right wing forces and their idea of one nation are branded as “anti-nationals”. Anyone who speaks against the anti-people policies of the Indian State, neo-liberal policies, corporate loot and plunder of indigenous resources and the atrocities perpetrated by the State on the most downtrodden sections of society are labelled as Maoists and “biggest internal security threats”. Anyone who raised her/ his voice against the incarceration and institutional murders and rapes of Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims and other oppressed sections are tagged as terrorists and “desh ke gaddar”. Anyone who questions the racial discrimination and violence meted out to the people of North East or speak in solidarity with the democratic political aspirations for right to self-determination of the people of these States and Kashmir are targeted by the cannibal “collective conscience” propagated by the ruling classes.

We must not forget that the crackdown which we are facing in JNU is in no way separate from the repression and incarceration faced by the oppressed people of this country on an everyday basis. Neither should we forget that we cannot escape this psychological warfare and reign of terror by restraining ourselves from speaking the truth out aloud. Today, we must stand united with the ongoing struggles in all campuses from IIT Madras to FTII, HCU to JNU. Our united struggle for right to dissent cannot be isolated from the struggle for justice for Rohith and against institutional murder of Dalits, Brahmanism in Education and targeting of minority students.

We may have political differences with each other, but in the face of fascism, if we start condemning fellow student activists in the fear of repression, then we are readily conceding to the states’ attempt to break our unity. Now, a draconian and colonial law is being invoked by the Brahmanical Indian State to charge students with sedition for sloganeering. We may not agree with all sorts of slogans, but we must not forget the historical injustice perpetrated on the people of Kashmir and their democratic aspirations by the Indian State for more than sixty years. The charge of sedition levelled against our fellow students is nothing but a sham that puts the entire judiciary under trial.

Today, Brahmanical Hindutva Fascism in the garb of jingoistic nationalism is amassing the rural and urban unemployed youth in large numbers while simultaneously expediting the imperialist loot and plunder of people’s resources aided by the State and big corporates, bolstering its anti-people policies and pulling up the farce of “Make in India”. This State is trying to divert the attention of the people from its economic crisis by violently propagating Hindutva Nationalism. This nationalism is nothing but a conceited face of fascism. By enforcing unquestioning obedience to the Sangh’s notion of Hindi-Hindu-Hindustan, the Indian State is trying to create wedges between dalits, adivasis, muslims, women and other oppressed minorities because this state is fearful of our unity.

DSU strongly demands the immediate and unconditional revocation of the academic debarment of student activists and organisers of the 9th February programme. We appeal to the student community to raise the demand of scrapping the ongoing enquiry. We must remember that even before the enquiry started students were suspended from academic activities. Let us not be in the false hope of a “fair and just” trial because this enquiry is intrinsically linked with the ridiculous charges of sedition against some of the students. The JNU Vice Chancellor must ensure that students are not individually hounded by the administration and police. The VC must take a stand against the police intervention in the democratic space of our campus and repeal all charges against each and every student. We demand the resignation of JNU Registrar, Bupinder Zutschi, who has been acting according to the diktats of the Sangh by providing the police with personal details of students. At the same time, the JNU administration is complicit in the vicious profiling and witch hunting of the organisers in the media and by police.

We condemn the media trial of Umar Khalid, now in police custody along with Anirban Bhattacharya, which took no time to brand him as a “terrorist mastermind” because he comes from a minority community. Moreover, how can we expect justice from this judiciary, when Kanhaiya Kumar, the JNUSU president along with teachers and journalists were attacked at the supposed altar of justice, the court? The assailants of Hindu Rashtra are in a frenzy to turn our universities into factories and students into unthinking machines while the judiciary has become a mute spectator to the tragi-comedy of “Indian democracy” unfolding on the streets and in media. Amidst all of this, lies conveniently buried the sedition case slapped against Prof. SAR Geelani from Delhi University who was arrested by the Delhi Police for merely organising a meeting against the killing of Afzal Guru on 10th February.

DSU condemns the attack by right wing forces on JNUSU president, Kanhaiya Kumar, JNU teachers and journalists in the Patiala House Court where ironically lawyers who are supposed to uphold judiciary abused and physically harassed them. Instead of protecting the unarmed students and teachers, the police acted as the hired goons of the State. We condemn the intervention of Delhi police and demand that police forces are immediately removed from university campus. We appeal to the progressive sections inside and outside campus to stand in solidarity and demand the release of Kanhaiya Kumar, Anirban Bhattacharya and Umar Khalid who are in police custody under false charges and all the students and activists persecuted by mob hysteria based on the rumours and lies spread by ABVP. We demand the immediate and unconditional release of Prof. SAR Geelani. We condemn the witch hunting of Muslim and Kashmiri students inside an outside the campus. We also reject the profiling of DSU in the Parliament and media based on the false claims of ABVP lumpens. This is a time for us to stand united against fascism and fight together for justice, our right to dissent and finally to build a truly democratic society.

Let us resolve to fight together for an equal world free from all oppression!

Scrap Enquiry! Revoke charges of sedition against Students!

Release Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya immediately and unconditionally!

Release Prof SAR Geelani immediately and unconditionally!

Stop selective witch hunt of students!

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PRESS RELEASE

NEFIS STANDS WITH JNU! ORGANIZES SOLIDARITY PROTESTS AT CHANDIGARH, IMPHAL, KOKRAKHAR, DEHRADUN AND GWALIOR!
DENOUNCES AGENDA OF BJP GOVT TO STIFLE DISSENT AND CRITICISM IN THE COUNTRY!
CONDEMNS THE CASTEIST, COMMUNAL PROGRAMME OF RSS-BJP GOVERNMENT!

Today, North-East Forum for International Solidarity(NEFIS) activists had gathered in huge numbers to support the international call of JNU students to demand justice for Rohith Vemula, and for releasing Kanhaiya Kumar and removal of all false charges against JNU students. NEFIS supports the movement against the casteist, communal forces RSS-BJP, who are guilty of not only killing Dalit Scholar Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad Central University, but of imposing false cases against JNU students. NEFIS units have also organized programmes in solidarity with JNU students at Chandigarh, Imphal, Kokrajhar, Imphal, Dehradun and Gwalior.
The malafide intentions of the BJP government were revealed when the Home Minister, Rajnath Singh made irresponsible comments, alleging connections of JNU students with Terror Outfits, without any evidence. Similarly, HRD Minister Smriti Irani quoted an internal and “interim” report of a “High Level Enquiry Committee” in JNU to name eight JNU students as prima facie “guilty”. In naming eight students in the Parliament, Smriti Irani has misused her official position and power to give credence to this highly questionable report of JNU’s High Level Enquiry Committee. These actions of the BJP government which reveal its agenda to stifle dissent in the country and to create fear that criticism of any kind would entail seditious charges, are much more than merely disturbing. Such acts expose the true face of the fascist forces that are attacking the democratic rights of the students in JNU, HCU and of the citizen of this country.

NEFIS stands with JNU and condemns the malicious slander campaign unleashed against JNU and its academic community as a cover for political witch-hunt and a vicious attack on the University’s autonomy and democratic culture of debate, dialogue and dissent.

Chinglen Khumukcham,
[Convener, North-East Forum for International Solidarity (NEFIS)]

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জেএনইউ-তে ছাত্রদের উপর নৃশংস হামলার বিরুদ্ধে তীব্র প্রতিবাদ জানাচ্ছে রাইট টু ফুড ক্যাম্পেন

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Letter to JNU Vice-chancellor from scientists in Indian universities and research institutes

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Update : 16.02.16

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Strong Protest march by Journalists today afternoon against yesterday’s attacks by the RSS/BJP in Patiala House Court premises on ‘anti-national’ media people, students and teachers. They marched from the Press Club towards the Supreme Court, but were stopped on the way. No physical RSS attack or police lathicharge on them, which has become almost routine in these times.

A collective FIR from journalists beaten up yesterday was finally lodged, which was being refused from yesterday by the Delhi Police. The Supreme Court has taken suo motu cognizance of yesterday’s attack and has scheduled a hearing for tomorrow.

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APDR statement regarding slapping sedition charges on JNU students

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कोर्ट परिसर में जेएनयू के छात्रों व शिक्षकों पर संघी आतंकियों द्वारा हमला निंदनीय- रिहाई मंच

लखनऊ 15 फरवरी 2016। दिल्ली के पटियाला कोर्ट के भीतर जेएनयू छात्र संघ के अध्यक्ष कन्हैया कुमार, जेएनयू के प्रोफेसरों और छात्रों पर भाजपा विधायक ओपी शर्मा और संघ परिवार से जुुुड़े आतंकियों द्वारा हमले की रिहाई मंच ने कड़ी निंदा की है। मंच ने आरोप लगाया है कि पाकिस्तान जिंदाबाद का नारा लगाने वाले एबीवीपी के कार्यकर्ताओं को भाजपा सरकार बचा रही है और देश में लोकतंत्र को बचाने के लिए आवाज उठाने वालों के खिलाफ मुकदमा दर्ज कर रही है। रिहाई मंच ने दोहराते हुए कहा है कि कन्हैया कुमार के रिहा होते ही रिहाई मंच उनका लखनऊ में भव्य नागरिक अभिनंदन करेगा।

रिहाई मंच द्वारा जारी पे्रस विज्ञप्ति में मंच के अध्यक्ष एडवोकेट मोहम्मद शुऐब ने कहा कि जिस तरह जेएनयू के छात्र संध अध्यक्ष और शिक्षकों को भाजपा विधायक और साम्प्रदायिक गुंडों ने कोर्ट परिसर के अंदर पीटा उससे साबित होता है कि संघी तत्वों को मोदी सरकार ने अब अदालतों के अंदर पहंुच कर भी गुंडागर्दी करने की छूट दे दी है। उन्होंने कहा कि ऐसी शर्मनाक घटना के बाद तो खुद सुप्रीम कोर्ट को भी इस आपराधिक कृत्य का संज्ञान लेकर भाजपा विधायक को निलम्बित कर देना चाहिए।

रिहाई मंच के अध्यक्ष ने कहा कि जेएनयू के अंदर पाकिस्तान जिंदाबाद का नारा लगाने वाला छात्र व छात्राएं अखिल भारतीय विद्यार्थी परिषद से जुड़े हैं, जिसका वीडियो सुबूत भी सोशल मीडिया पर वाइरल हो चुका है। उन्होंने कहा कि गृह मंत्री राजनाथ सिंह ने कहा था कि वो जेएनयू की घटना को बर्दाश्त नहीं करेंगे तो वहीं गृह राज्य मंत्री किरन रिजूजु ने कहा था कि वो देशद्रोहियों का गढ़ इसे नहीं बनने देंगे। आज जब वीडियो की वास्तविकता सामने आ गई है कि एबीवीपी के नेता पाकिस्तान जिंदाबाद के नारे लगा रहे थे तो आखिर उनके खिलाफ कार्रवाई से भाजपा सरकार क्यों बच रही है। राष्ट्र विरोधी गतिविधियों में शामिल रहने का इतिहास रखने वाले संघ और भाजपा के दबाव में मीडिया इस वीडियो को नहीं दिखा रहा है। जिससे मीडिया और भाजपा का गठजोड़ खुलकर सामने आ गया है। उन्होंने कहा कि जिस तरीके से भाजपा नेताओं ने जेएनयू की छात्राओं पर अभद्र टिप्पणी की उससे भाजपा की महिला विरोधी अश्लील मानसिकता फिर उजागर हुई।

रिहाई मंच नेता राजीव यादव ने कहा कि राजनाथ सिंह कन्हैया कुमार और उनके साथियों को हाफिज सईद से जुड़ा बता रहे हैं। जबकि कई आतंकी घटनाओं में शामिल पाए गए संघ परिवार के आतंकियों के चार्जशीट में खुद इन आतंकियों ने खुलासा किया है कि संघ परिवार के नेता इंद्रेश कुमार आईएसआई के एजेंट हैं। उन्होंने कहा कि एनआईए और खुफिया एजेंसियों के हवाले से जिस तरह गृहमंत्री यह दावा कर रहे हैं जेएनयू के छात्रों का सम्बंध हाफिज सईद से है, उससे एक बार फिर उजागर हो गया है कि खुफिया और सुरक्षा एजेंसियां संघ परिवार के आनुषांगिक संगठन के बतौर काम कर रही हैं। उन्होंने कहा कि एनआईए को पाकिस्तान में बैठे हाफिज सईद और जेएनयू के छात्रों के बीच झूठे सम्बंधों की अफवाह फैलाने के बजाए इशरत जहां की हत्या का आदेश देने वाले सफेद और काली दाढ़ी को गिरफ्तार कर अपनी विश्वसनियता बहाल करानी चाहिए। क्योंकि जिस काली और सफेद दाढ़ी को पूरा देश जानता है कि ये मोदी और अमित शाह के लिए कहा जा रहा है, उसे अगर एनआईए नहीं समझ पाती है तो इससे उसकी पेशेवर क्षमता पर भी सवाल उठ जाता है। राजीव यादव ने यह भी कहा कि राजनाथ सिंह को जेएनयू के छात्रों और पाकिस्तान में बैठे आतंकी हाफिज सईद के सम्बंधों की जांच के बजाए खुद अपनी और संघ परिवार की दुदांर्त महिला आतंकी साध्वी प्रज्ञा के साथ गोपनीय बैठक की तस्वीर पर स्पष्टीकरण देना चाहिए कि वो उस आतंकी के साथ किस आतंकी घटना की साजिश रच रहे थे। उन्होंने यह भी कहा कि साध्वी प्रज्ञा की गिरफ्तारी पर राजनाथ सिंह उस समय उसके बचाव में खड़े हुए थे और उनके संघी गिरोह ने उनके ऊपर पुष्प वर्षा भी करवाया था। उन्होंने सुझाव दिया कि राष्ट्रीय सुरक्षा सलाहाकर अजित डोभाल के लिए पाकिस्तान जाकर हाफिज सईद को गिरफ्तार करके पूछताछ करने से ज्यादा आसान और कम खर्चीला है कि वे गृहमंत्री राजनाथ सिंह से साध्वी प्रज्ञा जैसी फिदाईन आतंकी से सम्बंधों की पड़ताल करें ताकि देश की जनता सुरक्षित महसूस कर सके।

द्वारा जारी-
शाहनवाज आलम
(प्रवक्ता, रिहाई मंच)

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Statement from Democratic Teachers Network

CONDEMN THE FALSE CASE FILED AGAINST JNUSU PRESIDENT KANHAIYA! OPPOSE THIS UNDECLARED EMERGENCY BY FASCIST COMMUNAL BJP!

We condemn in the strongest terms the police raid upon student hostels in Jawaharlal Nehru University. JNU Students Union President Kanhaiya Kumar, a charismatic voice of the democratic aspirations of students, was lifted by plain clothes police in what appeared to bystanders to be a vigilante attack rather than a police action. Male police have been breaking into and entering hostels including women’s hostels, in a blatant violation of the rule of law. The fact that a student leader was arrested on charges of sedition, a draconian colonial law intended to break the Indian National freedom struggle, demonstrates the anti-national character of the police and the fascist government directing them. The case was filed directly by BJP MP Maheish Girri, who is proudly taking forward the deadly persecution of marginalised people that has come to characterize BJP MPs and MLAs – other examples include Sangeet Som who incited the Muzaffarnagar riots and the lynch mob against Aqlakh Ahmad (despite himself being a beef exporter), and Ramchander Rao and Bandaru Dattatreya who hounded dalit student Rohith Vemula to death.

Further, Kanhaiya has been at the forefront of protests before the MHRD against their shutting down non-NET fellowships for University students, and against their role in the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula. Is the education of students, the democratization of universities, an anti-national cause? Is it anti-national to oppose the death penalty – which has been abolished by 140 other countries – the majority of countries in the world? Are those countries acting against their own national interests when they abolished death penalty? What kind of nation believes the death of a human being is necessary for national integrity?

The particular islamophobic blood-thirsty campaign that the ABVP-RSS and their paid media outlets such as Zee News, etc. are running against Umar Khalid, one of the organisers of the protest meeting at JNU, demonising his Muslim identity, yet again displays their blatant hatred towards anyone who is not a caste Hindu. This hatred is extended to all those who have been in the forefront of the struggle against Fascism. This falls right in line with the killings of Prof. Kalburgi, Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabolkar, Ujjain University professor Dr. Sabharwal, and many others, by the Sangh Parivar. This is in addition to other acts of vandalism such as the attack on a meeting regarding Justice for Rohith Vemula at Mahatma Gandhi University, Nalgonda, and similar other attacks on protest gatherings at Lucknow University, Ambedkar University, brutal beatings assisted by the police on protesting students at Delhi, etc. The Haryana Central University in fact even filed FIRs against its own students who had only taken out a candle march in the memory of Rohith, accusing them of “anti-national activities” and has banned all protests in future.

The unfolding fascist face of the BJP is also evident when we consider that the last time a JNUSU president was arrested was during the Emergency period from 1975-77. If student leaders can be arbitrarily picked up under colonial laws, another Emergency under these communal fascists is not far away. The general public should realise the growing spread of undemocratic RSS control over every supposedly independent and autonomous space. The JNU Vice-Chancellor is an example of this trend, being a person who is comfortable attending “science events” organised by RSS-related organization, Vijnana Bharati, despite the profoundly unscientific statements made by RSS members including the current Prime Minister. The VC’s statement about this event reveals both his bias and his ignorance of constitutional law; he seems to not be aware of Article 19 of the Constitution which upholds freedom of speech and association. A constitutional bench of 5 Supreme Court judges has examined the Sedition Act in Kedar Nath Singh vs. State of Bihar (AIR 1962 SC 955), and concluded that comments, “however strongly worded, expressing disapprobation of the actions of Government”, under which Kanhaiya has been charged, “without exciting those feelings which generate the inclination to cause public disorder by acts of violence, would not be penal”. Several other judgments have upheld this distinction between criticism, however strongly worded, and an incitement to “imminent lawless action”. It is notable that Mr. Sangeet Som is more guilty of inciting “imminent lawless action” than anyone else mentioned in this statement.

Over the last one and half years, we have seen planned takeover of Central Institutions by the RSS through either coercion and cooption of the administrative bodies supposed to govern these institutions, or through blatant use of crude force by using the police and their own vigilante groups. Since the current BJP government has come to power, it has been in the news either for the unsuitable appointments to head institutions such as ICHR, FTII; packing positions in the CBI with Gujarat cadre who have protected Modi from being charged for his murderous riot-mongering in Gujarat; or for their unapologetic interference in the functioning of the top institutions in this country to shut down the progressive voices of this country’s institutions. This includes banning the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC) in IIT-Madras, targeting the ASA students in UoH, abruptly terminating the appointment of Gandhian activist and professor Sandeep Pandey at IIT-BHU, accusing him of absurd charges of being “anti-national” and “naxalite” at the behest of the VC of Banaras Hindu University (known to be an RSS pracharak from Allahabad university), clamping down upon the campus community at Pondicherry University accusing the entire community of “Islamization”, ABVP preventing Siddharth Varadarajan from speaking at Allahabad University etc. All of these instances show a clear disregard for universities as spaces of debate, dialogue and critical thinking spaces. It also demonstrates the policy of intimidation to frighten and silence the voices of students and teachers in the universities who question the status quo. It is time that all the citizens of this country who believe in democracy make their voices heard against this muffling of dissent that is highly detrimental to the democratic functioning of this country.

We demand that the Union Government must take immediate steps to prevent the intimidation of students and to immediately withdraw this patently false case that tramples on Kanhaiya and others’ Constitutional rights. We demand that the police should immediately leave JNU campus, and that all other campuses across the country should be demilitarized, which includes the revoking of all anti-democratic circulars and bans on student activities in educational institutions. The Sedition Act, and other such colonially imposed draconian laws, must be immediately revoked by anyone who claims to have national interests in mind.

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Updates: 13.02.2016
1) Five students have been detained from JNU
2) Members of Sanwari, a cultural group which took part in the protest, have been  picked up by the police
3) Sangh has mobilized landlords and strongmen of Munirka villages, who are ‘protesting’ in front of JNU
4) Ali Javed, DU professor, has been asked to appear before a city police station today

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STATEMENT BY INTELLECTUALS, EDUCATORS, ARTISTS, WRITERS AGAINST POLICE ACTION ON JNU CAMPUS, NEW DELHI ON 12th FEBRUARY 2016

We, the undersigned, are shocked by the appalling conduct of Delhi Police at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi yesterday. We also condemn the irresponsible sloganeering by some people at the fringes of a gathering on the JNU campus to mark the third anniversary of the execution of Afzal Guru. We believe that such calls to ‘war, until the destruction of India’ erode the gravity of any serious discussion on any political question, be it capital punishment, human rights or even the question of self-determination. Such conduct is shameful, regardless of who does it, and deserving of the sharpest criticism.

That said, the only way to counter such incidents, when they occur, is through a deepening of dialogue, not through police action. The police has no business to enter places of learning and harass students (including students who were clearly trying to defuse the situation and to take a stand against the irresponsible elements who gave the objectionable slogans) when there had been no breach of peace.

We condemn the arrest of Kanhaiyya Kumar, president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union on trumped up charges of sedition and demand that he be released immediately. Kanhaiyya’s public statements, which are widely available, clearly show that sedition is the last thing that you can charge him with. The University Authorities must take steps to ensure that the witch hunt that is ensuing against other students must also cease immediately. We are saddened by the new JNU Vice Chancellor’s readiness to submit to the diktats of the police, and we condemn the totally outrageous statements by the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, and the Minister for Human Resources Development Smriti Irani which virtually declare war on universities as spaces for dissent and debate.

We demand an unconditional withdrawal of police personnel from campuses, and reiterate our support and solidarity with the students, faculty and staff of JNU, and with students everywhere in India who are pursuing a courageous resistance against the ongoing assault on higher education unleashed by the BJP government.

Ashis Nandy, Distinguished Fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi

Bharti Kher, Artist, Delhi

Gauri Gill, Artist, Delhi

Gayatri Sinha, Curator, Delhi

Geeta Kapur, Curator, Delhi

Iram Ghufran, Filmmaker, Delhi

Jeet Thayil, Poet, Delhi

Moinak Biswas, Professor, Department of Film Studies, Jadavpur University, Kolkata

Rajarshi Dasgupta, Assistant Professor, Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Rajeev Bhargava, Director, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi

Ravi Sundaram, Fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi

Sahej Rehal, Artist, Mumbai

Sabina Kidwai, Associate Professor, AJ Kidwai Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi

Sabena Gadihoke, Associate Professor, AJ Kidwai Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi

Sanjay Kak, Filmmaker, Delhi

Sarnath Banerjee, Artist, Delhi / Berlin

Sibaji Bandyopadhyay, Fellow, Centre for the Studies of Social Sciences, Kolkata

Shohini Ghosh, Professor, AJ Kidwai Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi

Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Artist, Raqs Media Collective, Delhi

Vivan Sundaram, Artist, Delhi

**
Condemn Fascism in the Name of Nationalism

PEOPLE’S UNION FOR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS (PUDR)

12th February, 2016

PUDR strongly condemns the Delhi Police for arresting the JNU students’ union president, Kanhaiya Kumar today, 12th February, on charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy for holding a protest demonstration on February 9th against the judicial hanging of Afzal Guru, three years ago.

The events between 9th and 12th February demonstrate how the administration (including the University authorities) have caved in to the demands of the ABVP, the BJP led students party which has only 1 seat in the JNU students’ union. On 9th the ABVP protested against the event and termed it ‘anti-national’ as pro-Kashmiri slogans were allegedly raised during the demonstration.

The ABVP subsequently organized protest demonstrations against what it termed as ‘anti-nationalism’ both in JNU and in Delhi University. Significantly, the BJP leader from East Delhi, Maheish Girri, filed complaints with the police along with the ABVP on Thursday, 11th February, that led to Kanhaiya Kumar being arrested this morning. The NDTF, the teachers’ wing of the BJP in Delhi University also gave a call in tandem with the ABVP against “Anti India and pro Pakistan/ pro Jehadi/ pro -Naxal activities” in JNU. In another incident, S.A.R Geelani, lecturer -Delhi University, was booked for sedition for a speech delivered at the Press Club on 10th February during the course of a similar event.

The arrests it may be noted have been expedited by the explicit sanction given to the Delhi Police by the Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh to take strong action against the organizers and participants of both these events. Judging by the speed of the police actions against Kanhaiya Kumar and SAR Geelani, PUDR wishes to strongly underscore the following points:

1. Afzal Guru was secretly hanged in February 2013. Terming a protest demonstration which takes place three years after as anti-national is not only vindictive but also proof of the growing fascist definitions of nationalism propagated by the BJP through its students’ and teachers’ wings.
2. The JNU authorities’ assertion that it believes in debate and dissent is ridiculous as it could have easily contained the altercation internally. After the altercation, it has deliberately chosen to make the technical point of permission into a political matter.
3. The comments by the Union Home Minister underline the fact that the Central Government’s partisan interest in upholding the ABVP’s viewpoint. In the Rohith Vemula case, students have repeatedly demanded action against the Vice Chancellor and the Union HRD Minister. Why did it not agree then? It is significant to remember that in the Hyderabad incident, the matter was first politicized by its MP, Bandaru Dattatreya, when approached by ABVP Hyderabad University unit president Susheel Kumar in August 2015, who levelled similar allegations of “extremist and anti-national” activities against students belonging to the Ambedkar Student’s Association.
4. The promptness shown by the police in using the sedition clause in the JNU case is proof of its partisan nature. While the colonial nature of the sedition clause of the IPC is obsolete and should be struck down, its continuous use against critics of the government, is an alarming instance of the coercive nature of the state machinery. The fact that the FIR is registered against ‘unknown persons’ leaves scope for further arrests in the coming days.
5. Since the BJP and the ABVP have assumed that they alone are the custodians of nationalism, how do they defend the essence of Art. 19 of the Constitution, that deals with freedom of speech and association? This is a serious question and one which demands a debate: the definition of dissent and its role in democracy.

In the light of the above PUDR demands:
a. Immediate Release of the JNUSU President, Kanhaiya Kumar

b. Quashing of FIR and withdrawal of Sedition charges against unknown persons and S. A. R Geelani.

Moushumi Basu, Deepika Tandon

Secretaries, PUDR

***

AIFRTE Statement on Assault on JNU Students and Arrest of JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar on charges of Sedition (Feb 13)

AIFRTE strongly condemns the Delhi Police assault on the Jawaharlal Nehru University students at the behest of the central government with Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Minister of Human Resource Development Smrti Irani leading the attack. Shaken by the widespread reaction against events in the central University of Hyderabad and the death of Dalit student leader and research scholar Rohith Vemula, the central government is trying to brazen it out by escalating their attack on other universities and radical students unions in what will be another futile attempt to stop the rising anger and resistance against the fascist tactics of the RSS and the hindutva organizations of the Sangh parivar like the ABVP.

The recently appointed V.C. Jagdesh Kumar allowed the police to enter and comb the JNU hostels for so-called ‘anti-national’ students without even informing the Deans meeting at the University. The Deans of the Schools of Social Sciences, International Studies, Languages and Arts and Aesthetics have stated that the decision to give “blanket permission” to police amounts to a “major change in the policy adopted by successive Vice-Chancellors ever since JNU was established, and against the policy that most universities adopt.” They categorically stated that it is “patently wrong” that they “endorsed this decision” and strongly urged the V.C. to retract his decision.

Plainclothes men picked up and arrested Kanhaiya Kumar President of JNUSU and have taken him into police custody for three days. The JNUSU has condemned arrest and the witch-hunt unleashed on the campus as a blatant attempt by the present regime and its hindutva ideologues to silence their political opposition. Thousands of students and faculty marched through the campus for over an hour to express their anger and firm opposition to these fascist tactics.

The JNUTA has issued a strong statement condemning the police action and stated that the University has its own internal mechanisms for resolving any controversies that may arise within the university community. Meanwhile eight retired Deans of the JNU have issued a statement that this is the first time that a president of JNUSU has been arrested since the Emergency and that the sedition charge against  Kanhaiya Kumar “is beyond the bounds of credibility” as he is a member of the All India Students Federation (AISF) and his political principles and positions are well-known.

The police action, has also been condemned by defenders of civil liberties and democratic rights, and termed an “undeclared emergency” by the left parties and other progressive forces.

AIFRTE expresses complete solidarity with the JNU academic community and demands that the JNUSU President be released immediately and all fabricated charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy against him be dropped.

AIFRTE further demands that the police be withdrawn from the campus immediately and all harassment of students, including suspension of eight students without inquiry or evidence, be stopped forthwith if normalcy is to be restored in the University.

AIFRTE further demands that the ruling party and the central government firmly restrain the hindutva organizations of the RSS including the ABVP within constitutional limits and make sure that they learn to respect the autonomy and critical freedom of the academic communities across the country. This is essential for an enabling academic environment to prevail and for the defense of people’s democratic rights and freedoms. The Supreme Court in a recent statement has also recognized that ‘Dissent is critical to Democracy’. The Constitution of India leaves no room for vigilante groups and lynch mobs to create space for police and other agencies to act against the democratic rights of its citizens.

AIFRTE Presidium

Condemn Fascism in the Name of Nationalism

PUDR strongly condemns the Delhi Police for arresting the JNU students’ union president, Kanhaiya Kumar today, 12th February, on charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy for holding a protest demonstration on February 9th against the judicial hanging of Afzal Guru, three years ago. The events between 9th and 12th February demonstrate how the administration (including the University authorities) have caved in to the demands of the ABVP, the BJP led students party which has only 1 seat in the JNU students’ union. On 9th the ABVP protested against the event and termed it ‘anti-national’ as pro-Kashmiri slogans were allegedly raised during the demonstration.
The ABVP subsequently organized protest demonstrations against what it termed as ‘anti-nationalism’ both in JNU and in Delhi University. Significantly, the BJP leader from East Delhi, Maheish Girri, filed complaints with the police along with the ABVP on Thursday, 11th February, that led to Kanhaiya Kumar being arrested this morning.  The NDTF, the teachers’ wing of the BJP in Delhi University also gave a call in tandem with the ABVP against “Anti India and pro Pakistan/ pro Jehadi/ pro -Naxal activities” in JNU.  In another incident, S.A.R Geelani, lecturer -Delhi University, was booked for sedition for a speech delivered at the Press Club during the course of a similar event.
The arrests it may be noted have been expedited by the explicit sanction given to the Delhi Police by the Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh to take strong action against the organizers and participants of both these events. Judging by the speed of the police actions against Kanhaiya Kumar and SAR Geelani, PUDR wishes to strongly underscore the following points:
1. Afzal Guru was secretly hanged in February 2013. Terming a protest demonstration which takes place three years after as anti-national is not only vindictive but also proof of the growing fascist definitions of nationalism propagated by the BJP through its students’ and teachers’ wings.
2. The JNU authorities’ assertion that it believes in debate and dissent is ridiculous as it could have easily contained the altercation internally. After the altercation, it has deliberately chosen to make the technical point of permission into a political matter.
3. The comments by the Union Home Minister underline the fact that the Central Government’s partisan interest in upholding the ABVP’s viewpoint. In the Rohith Vemula case, students have repeatedly demanded action against the Vice Chancellor and the Union HRD Minister. Why did it not agree then? It is significant to remember that in the Hyderabad incident, the matter was first politicized by its MP, Bandaru Dattatreya, when approached by ABVP Hyderabad University unit president Susheel Kumar in August 2015, who levelled similar allegations of “extremist and anti-national” activities against students belonging to the Ambedkar Student’s Association.
4. The promptness shown by the police in using the sedition clause in the JNU case is proof of its partisan nature. While the colonial nature of the sedition clause of the IPC is obsolete and should be struck down, its continuous use against critics of the government, is an alarming instance of the coercive nature of the state machinery.  The fact that the FIR is registered against ‘unknown persons’ leaves scope for further arrests in the coming days.
5. Since the BJP and the ABVP have assumed that they alone are the custodians of nationalism, how do they defend the essence of Art. 19 of the Constitution, that deals with freedom of speech and association? This is a serious question and one which demands a debate: the definition of dissent and its role in democracy.
In the light of the above  PUDR demands:
a.      Immediate Release of the JNUSU President, Kanhaiya Kumar
b.      Quashing of FIR and withdrawal of Sedition charges against unknown persons and S. A. R Geelani
Moushumi Basu, Deepika Tandon
Secretaries, PUDR   (pudr@pudr.org)

CPDR Condemns Arrests of JNUSU President and Delhi University Professor under Sedition Charges (Feb 12)

CPDR condemns the arrests of Kanhaiya Kumar, president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNSU) and Prof SAR Gilani of Delhi University by the Delhi Police today (12 February 2016) at the behest of the Home Minister Rajnath Singh on charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy for holding a protest demonstration on February 9th against the judicial hanging of Afzal Guru, three years ago.

The BJP Government is completely exposed in using the state power in support of its student’s wing- Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, which was totally isolated in the campuses all over the country in the flare up over the institutional killing of Rohith Vemula. Instead of learning a lesson from this episode, it has chosen to use its fascist fangs in suppressing the democratic activities of students in university campuses.

CPDR does not hold any brief for those who indulge in anti-national activities but certainly objects to gross misuse of this label to suppress democratic rights of the students. In view of the fact that the hangings of both Afzal Guru as well as Yakub Memon have not been beyond controversy, the students’ questioning them cannot be termed sedition or anti-national activity. It is the same fascist definition of anti-nationalism that had prompted the Hyderabad University administration to clumsily punish the five Dalit students which led to one of them, Rohith Vemula, committing suicide. In both, the sinister role of ABVP and BJP in making the university administrations to crawl and police to terrorize the non-ABVP students is completely exposed.

The higher education campuses are not factories to produce inert charge to feed corporate mills. They are fundamentally expected to shape future thought leaders of the country endowed with critical faculties for sustenance of democracy. Analyzing, reviewing, criticizing, protesting, agitating and being alive to issues of national life are an integral part of this process. It cannot be suppressed by labeling it sedition or anti-national activity. Exercising checks on the Government is the right of people that is subsumed in democracy and cannot be subverted by such sentimental ploys. The students who partake in such activities must rather be respected for their concern for the future of the country than those who opportunistically choose to be on the side of the state and exhibit their pseudo patriotism. It is sad that the so called nationalists who blame every evil to colonial powers shamelessly cling to colonial provisions of sedition and other such draconian acts to terrorize people.

In the light of the above, CPDR demands immediate release of both the JNUSU President, Kanhaiya Kumar and Prof S. A. R Geelani and quashing of Sedition charges against them and unknown persons.

Dr Anand Teltumbde
General Secretary, CPDR, Maharashtra

Statement by JNUTA (Feb 12)

JNU has always been a University where there has been a vibrant democratic culture, where diverse political ideological and academic views have engaged with each other in a spirit of peaceful dialogue and debate. The JNU teaching community is extremely concerned at the threat to the democratic ethos, which has played a critical role in ensuring that the University serves its social functions and secures its position as one of the premier institutions of higher education.

The University, having already instituted an enquiry to ascertain the facts and to take necessary action and there being no disruption of academic or any other regular functioning of the University, JNUTA strongly believes that the current excessive police action is totally uncalled for and it has only aggravated the situation. In view of this, JNUTA expresses its deep anguish over the University Administration’s decision to give a carte blanche to the police to enter the campus to search different premises and even make random arrests.

The teachers of JNU have always stood for upholding the Constitution of India and values enshrined therein and are opposed to any unconstitutional activity in the campus or outside. This very sentiment makes us express our strong opposition to attempts to use the law and the police to suppress democratic dissent and conduct a witch-hunt on our campus. The fact that the JNU Students Union (JNUSU) President is the first to be arrested establishes it. The JNUTA, following its Emergency Meeting, expresses its deep concern on the recent developments on our campus. The teachers of the University condemn the massive police presence and the attempt to escalate tensions.

JNUTA stands with the entire JNU community to maintain normalcy on our campus by immediately withdrawing the police and releasing all those detained.

Press Statement on JNU (Feb 12)
We the undersigned who have taught at the Jawaharlal Nehru University for long and have served as Deans of its various Schools at different times are shocked to hear that the President of the Students’ Union has been arrested on charges of sedition. As he belongs to the All India Students’ Federation, his views and political associations are well-known, and to accuse him of sedition is beyond the bounds of credibility. The only previous occasion when the President of the JNUSU had been arrested was during the Emergency of 1975-77, and the present situation on the campus brings back memories of the Emergency days. We urge the Union government to take immediate steps to prevent the intimidation of students and to ensure that the normal functioning of the University is not disrupted in any way.
  • K.N. Panikkar
  • C.P. Bhambri
  • Anil Bhatti
  • Utsa Patnaik
  • Prabhat Patnaik
  • Zoya Hasan
  • Anjan Mukherji
  • Mridula Mukherjee
  • Aditya Mukherjee

Press Statement on JNU (Feb 12)
We condemn in the strongest possible words the high-handed police action in JNU. This is reminiscent of the dark days of the emergency when the state had swooped down on the campus and had arrested many on false and trumped up charges. While we hold no brief for those who raised objectionable slogans, the arrested students have been charged with anti-national activities, precisely the charges on which we were also arrested during the draconian emergency.
We call upon the democratic forces and the entire community of students from institutes of higher learning from across the country to stand together and resist these continuing attacks on education and the spaces for debate and discussion. Coming in the wake of the dastardly conspiracy of connivance and blatant discrimination that forced Rohit Vemula to take his own life, the storming of the hostels and the arrest of the president of JNUSU are signs of the imposition of an undeclared emergency that need to be opposed, confronted and defeated.
We are confident that the democratic and secular forces in the country will stand united and will ensure that the communal fascist forces do not succeed in their designs.
  • D.P. Tripathi (Ex. President JNUSU arrested during the emergency)
  • Sohail Hashmi
  • Anil Chaudhary
  • Ramesh Dixit
  • Ish Mishra
  • N.D. Jayaprakash
  • Probir Purkayastha

A commentary by Nayan Jyoti (Feb 12)

The University is clearly under a Police State. In acts of terror on voices of dissent, and in a replay of the Emergency, the IB and Delhi Police raided hostels and is everywhere on JNU campus. Cases under Sections 124A(Sedition), 120B(criminal conspiracy), Unlawful Assembly have been thrown the necks of both students in JNU, and on the Press Club meeting organizers. JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar has been sent to 3-day police custody, and police is knocking on the doors of hostels and homes of progressive students – names as it appears now, given by the administration itself. There is both a coordinated ploy to divide and isolate ‘fringe elements’ from the ‘mainstream’, while at the same time, the clause of ‘Unknown Persons’ basically puts everyone under the Police State’s terrorizing ambit, except the RSS of course which is directing it from the seats of Power.

Baying for blood of dissenters, transgressors, dreamers is nothing new for those in Power, though now they are operating with new terror mechanisms at the very core. Which India are they really talking about? The blood-stained expansionist nation represented by the corporates hounds, Hindutva fascists and their media managers is not my country. We stand unflinchingly with the struggle of the toilers and the oppressed in this land and everywhere. These struggles – their rich variegated history and their fractured present – are our hope and source of inspiration also precisely because they have not been completely contained even by the bureaucratic, dogmatic or fundamentalist elements who claim to represent them. Our strength comes from the unfolding of the movement, which does not only dare to create the people and our country anew, but ‘azadi’ itself anew.

Updates: 12.02.2016

1) Police has arrested JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar from the campus and he has been booked under sedition charges.
2) Police raided Mahi and Mandvi hostels last night. It appears that the police has specific instruction to arrest students from leftist groups and students from Kashmir, irrespective of whether they have attended the protest or not.
3) Massive police force is currently occupying JNU. Students are fearing another round of raid tonight.
4) JNU administration has given police and IB full freedom in arresting students
5) Large number of students are protesting against police action in front of administrative block
6) Sangh and BJP are mobilizing supporters from nearby localities, who have gathered at the entrance to intimidate students.
7) ABVP hooligans are openly threatening students inside the campus
8) JNU teachers association met the VC and addressed a press conference at 6 pm; thousands of students and teachers gathered.

PDSU Press Release against ABVP attack in JNU

10.02.2016

PDSU strongly condemns the behavior of ABVP goons in JNU last night, when a group of students were peacefully observing the death anniversary of the hanging of Afzal Guru as judicial murder. These students has sought the permission of VC but he refused citing that it may disrupt peace in the campus. Thus the group held a meeting without mike at one of the dhaba which was attended by several 100 students. At the end the procession was attacked by the goons of ABVP aided by security guards opposing the protest.

It is disturbing to note that now a handful (or even otherwise) of ABVP decided which programmes can be held and which cannot. And they have full support of administrative machinery. First VC denied permission fearing disturbance. Who other than ABVP could have disturbed? That is if something does not suit ABVP it cannot be done. Instead of taking action against ABVP for disturbing and trampling over the right to express, it becomes a reason for not allowing others. And when others decide to go ahead with their right to express, university helps them like with guard and police in this case and police in the case of demonstration at RSS HQ.

This is also worth mentioning that the order of hanging of Afzal Guru was protested against even at that time as it was not correct even as per the law of the land. The judgement noted that despite not enough proofs, to satisfy “collective conscious of Nation” Guru musty be hanged. One may agree or disagree with this blatant flouting of law and human rights. But just to appease the union government, ABVP cannot be given liberty to decide what programmes can be held, who can speak and which issues can be taken up.

PDSU once again strongly condemns ABVP as well as the Vice Chancellor of JNU and demand apology from VC and action against the goons.

(Rajeev)
Convener