Sunday, February 14, 2016

JNU Strike on Monday 15th 2016

The JNU students have been picketing for a long time, collectively with other unions. The corporatisation of education has been their greatest anguish. Now the caste oriented politics of the BJP has made things so much worse. Why is it that the JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar was picked up with out a warrant? The JNUTA is completely stunned, because the young man neither shouted antinational slogans, nor did he support Kashmiri selfdeterminism. The discussion on capital punishment has been going on for very long in human right protection circles. Quite often, people come to JNU canvassing for the rights of prisoners.  Now, we are told that Kanhaiya has been placed in the Terrorist Cell in R.K. Puram. We hope that he can be returned to us at the earliest, as there is no reason for him to be put in jail.
When there are disturbances on campus, because of volatile groups of politically committed students, and the far right and the extreme left are always looking for occassions to be at each other's throats, the presence of teachers calms things down. This time, the VC was new, and the acting registrar Bhupinder Zutshi did not recommend  to him that the proctor's committees be activated. We are all shocked by Zutshi's  action, which was to give a list of  previously prepared students' names to the police, and that the VC was advised to let the police enter  the campus was most reprehensible.
Students in JNU have had a long tradition of training as grass roots intellectuals. They keep an inventory of deficits both institutional and national. They know that they are responsible for the smooth running of the institution they study in. We as teachers have always respected them, and learned from them. The mutual love we have for our students and their ideas, and the respect they have for us is now almost fifty years old. It's tragic that the press barons, who have no respect for the poor and the genius among them, should have used their agents to misrepresent JNU. The segmentalised and aggressive way in which the press manipulated their cameras and showed teachers and students of JNU to be antinational is most unseemly. We can only imagine that they are ideologically or otherwise implicated in capitalism and caste orientations.
Rohith Vemula's death was something that the students were deeply grieved by. His suicide note was a classic example of the genius of the young that I have already stated as characteristic of the Marxist Ambedkarite vision. It is this that the right wing cadres are keen to damage.
The human chain four kms long, held in friendship and love to uphold the great struggle that the JNU community sees as lying ahead of it is a good omen of the self respect and the optimism that we feel.

To kill the spirit of the rural intelligentsia is not so easy. They are learned, wise, and practical. They will show India, that learning is something which opens up the path to greater achievements. Today, they organised the crowd gathering perfectly, without a single moment of anxiety for JNUTA, who participated to support the students. On 13th February, when ABVP members, none of them recognisable as  JNU students, tried to harass 3000 students gathered together, the JNU students were completely calmed and restrained. Yesterday, 13th February 2016,  we felt we were sitting on a time bomb, which would go off, as the university became a site for visitors who came to support the JNUSU, and the lumpen elements posing as ABVP students moved around freely. On 14th February 2016, with the peace march around JNU campus, we felt our own sense of integrity and camaraderie. The FEDCUTA President, JNU President, Ambedkar University representatives all communicated their sense of belonging to an India which is democratic, dialogic and continuously open to the questions of freedom and identity. To lock up a young man on the bases of his official post, as responsible for slogan shouting by anonymous members of the crowd, seeking to create fissures in the community, is totally illogical.
On 15th February, 2016, some of the Professors,  including myself, Chitra Harshvardhan, Neera Kongari, Nivedita Menon, Madhu Sahni,  Ayesha Kidwai and Janki Nair, accompanied by some men faculty went to Court number 4, gate number 2, Patiala House, to be there for JNUSU president when he was produced before the judge. We were first ushered into the room, and settled in, and after twenty minutes, around ten minutes to 2 pm, when the hearing was to begin, we were crowded in by RSS lawyers, who shouted at us, and pushed us around, and said we were to leave. The police then  cordoned the women professors and took them up staircases and down different ones, saying that they were protecting us from the RSS activists. They were very concerned, and wanted to communicate that they had our best interests while ushering us along a warren of rooms and steps.
The polarisation of JNU, and its breakdown has begun. It is immensely frightening, since the secular and the religious are now confrontational. The karamchari union took out a march on 15th February  at 11 a.m  outside administration. I heard a woman clerk  at the meeting say, “First, we will identify the students who are anti-national, then all the teachers.” On 14thFebruary, when the journalists asked us “What are your opinions about being called antinational?” The hundreds of teachers who were assembled laughed.  After today, and the expressive and fearsome RSS response, it does not seem funny anymore. The young boy who stood up for the rights of the poor to study and to be liberated will have us always as his Brechtian mothers, for us he is of the earth, and will be blessed for his courage.

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