JNU Happenings Intriguing and Matter of Shame Time to Stem the Rot
What happened in the eminent institution of learning, the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi on January 05, 2020 makes everybody in the country — the students of JNU, JNU administration, the academicians, the student community at large, the political community, the administration, the parents, and everybody else — bow their heads in shame. It is no exaggeration to say that, of late, JNU is mostly in the news but for wrong reasons. It has now come to earn the dubious distinction of being recognized more as an institution fomenting agitations and less as a distinguished house of learning. This is tarnishing its prestige and lowering its standing in the world of learning. Its students unions now look fighting less for the cause of students and promoting more the selfish ends of political sects they seem to have come to align themselves with.
Leave apart, for the moment, who are responsible for the unfortunate incidents unbecoming of university students. The investigation is on and with the help of students, teachers and administration the truth should come out and those responsible for the violence should be punished under the law of the land. But equally important is also to expose the elements in and out of the university campus for the trouble. It is also vital that steps should be taken at all levels that such things do not happen again and the elements who try to play mischief are nipped in the bud before they are able to achieve their nefarious designs— putting students against students — to derive not the interests of the students but their own ulterior motives in the name of students’ welfare and interests.
But one thing is as clear as the sun. The moment the ugly incidents of violence erupted politicians, like our electronic channels who claim they are the first with a particular news and video, started making a beeline to the JNU. The first who appeared on the news channels was the Swaraj Party leader Yoginder Yadav. His stand was obvious. He tried to appear as a martyr to what ugly incidents took place. In the midst of chaos, unrest and violence he wanted to force his democratic right to enter the campus. In the situation then prevailing when he was denied entry, he was at us usual self and for the purpose — political — he had graced the occasion.
And the other political leaders were not far behind. Every politician worth his name wanted to be the very first to pay obeisance at this disturbed ‘Temple of Learning” for sumptuous blessings in political kind .Many of them were at their Twitter and Facebook accounts. Although the facts had not come out as yet the leaders were out hurling condemnation and defence as that helped them at the hustings, in particular in the coming Delhi elections.
Needless to recall that on February 09, 2016 a section of JNU students led by the then JNU Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar celebrated the hanging of the Parliament 2001 attack accused Afzal Guru whom they said had been wrongly convicted. They raised slogans demanding “Azadi” and to work for the vivisection (Bharat tere tukde-tukde honge) of the country. They came to be known as the tukde-tukde gang. Many leaders, including Rahul Gandhi had rushed to the JNU to show solidarity with this section of the JNU students. Rahul Gandhi had then said that he will not allow the voice of the students to be gagged.
Kanhaiyya Kumar and his accomplices were arrested and charged with sedition. But the Delhi government headed by Aam Aadmi Party supremo Arvind Kejriwal, for political considerations, did not take a decision on sanctioning Kumar and others’ prosecution despite a Delhi court on February 06, 2019 lashing out at Delhi government for delay in granting the sanction saying “Authorities can’t sit on (the) file for an indefinite period”. Obviously the AAP government did not do so for political/electoral reasons. And now that elections to Delhi assembly have been announced the matter will remain pending till a new government takes office.
Later, Kanhaiya Kumar was given the nomination by the Communist Party of India to contest the Begusarai Lok Sabha seat from Bihar in May 2019. It was a measure of his ‘popularity’ that he lost his security deposit.
The speed with which there were protests all over the country within less than 24 hours of the JNU happenings also shows how our political machinery works overtime at lightening speed. Political parties and even state chief ministers have taken stand as per their political leanings. It still remains a mystery how facts of the case have reached them in a matter of hours although any police or any private enquiry had, as yet, not taken place so far. There have been attacks at rival student groups owing allegiance to opposite parties.
It is no gainsaying the fact that political and — to a great extent, even — criminal elements have sneaked into our university campuses. They just wait for the opportune moment to create trouble that helps one group or the other. Violent clashes and destruction of university property in campuses is the order of the day.
Another aspect, strange at that, has emerged in the student protests that instantly followed the JNU incident. Before the Gate of India in Mumbai a group of young men and women claiming to be students raised slogans and held placards “Freedom for Kashmir” and in Delhi University students raised slogans demanding “Azadi”. What have students to do with Kashmir and the undefined and unexplained “Azadi”? It appears that what happened at the JNU and the student ire against this has something to go beyond student education and welfare. In the façade behind student agitation there seems some deeper conspiracy and sinister designs.
When such incidents take place, the usual whipping boy is the police which is accused of having reached late the place of incident. Had it reached in time, it is alleged, much of the damage could have been avoided.
At the same time, students, teachers and the university authorities are very possessive of the university autonomy and they detest any encroachment by the police and district administration without the former’s consent and calling. The university authorities will certainly take time to make an internal assessment of the situation at their own end before sending an SOS to the police and civil administration. Movement of the police to a university campus will too take time however prompt the force may try to be. How can police and administration then be faulted for delay? It is time to have a second look at this autonomy aspect.
The latest JNU happenings and what happened later in other “Temples of Education” in the country have underlined the need for constitution of a high-powered commission or committee consisting of eminent educationists, administrators and past students which should go deep into what is ailing these ‘institutions of eminence’ and recommend sincere steps that should be taken to save our higher education from falling into the pits the nexus between politics and criminals has created for promotion of their own selfish goals.
By Amba Charan Vashishth
(The writer is a Delhi-based political analyst and commentator.)