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Jashn-e-Azadi successfully screened at Delhi University despite right-wing threats & police pressure: AISA

February 17, 2012

Guest post by ALL INDIA STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION (AISA)

AISA and Students of Sociology Department (DU) Successfully Screen Jashn-e-Azaadi in DU, Braving Attacks and Threats by ABVP and ‘Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena’! Hundreds of Delhi University Students Participate in Film Screening and Discussion with Sanjay Kak, Director of Jashn-e-Azadi!!

Today hundreds of DU students and teachers participated the screening of the documentary film  Jashn-e-Azaadi organized by AISA and students of sociology in the Department of Sociology, Delhi University. “Predictably this screening had to held in the teeth of opposition from right-wing fascist forces like ABVP and the Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena, who tried their level best to stall the screening. Moreover, the DU administration and the Delhi Police also shamefully sided with these forces and tried to pressurize the Sociology department to stop the screening”, said Harshvardhan Tripathi Secretary DU, AISA.

AISA had taken proper permission for this programme on Monday itself (13th of February, 2012). However, the DU administration and the Delhi police tried to prevent the movie from being screened. Since early this morning, the Delhi police kept calling the organizers (AISA representatives), stating that the Police has been receiving “threats” from ABVP and Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena. These forces openly told the Police that they would disrupt the screening, if it was allowed. “Instead of giving protection and preventing the hooligans from the entering the premises of Delhi School of Economics, Delhi police kept pressurizing the organizers to cancel the screening”, added Harshvardhan. The DU administration initially also tried to pressurize the sociology department and the organizers to cancel the programme.

However, the Sociology department stood firm in its defence of academic freedom. They demanded that the DU administration give in writing details of legal and academic grounds on the basis of which the film screening should be cancelled. Unable to give any logical response to this, the DU administration changed its stand and in a written statement, it told the Sociology department that the film screening could carry on. And so, the programme was held.

Commenting on today’s incident, director Sanjay Kak said, “By defending their right to screen the film, the Delhi School of Economics has stood for the best traditions of academic independence. And by coming in large numbers despite the intimidation, students have shown themselves to that trust. Thanks to AISA for showing the way.” The film screening in DU today was followed by a discussion with the director Sanjay Kak, who pointed out that disruption of his movie or any other talk on Kashmir serves the simple purpose of not letting the people know the reality in Kashmir.

AISA condemns the role of the Delhi police, which instead of preventing the goons from entering the premises of DSE, escorted them till the gates of Sociology department where they were stopped by the huge gathering of teachers and students. This incident should also be seen in the light of the DU administration’s recent move to remove AK Ramanujam’s essay ‘Three Hundred Ramayanas’ from BA History syllabus. Yesterday, several groups in DU (including AISA) unitedly organized a massive seminar in DU against such draconian attacks on academic freedom by right-wing forces. And today’s incident is yet another victory of progressive forces who have been fighting to reclaim the campus space from corporate and fascist take over. It is a victory for campus democracy, against hooliganism and for a culture of debate and discussion.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. February 17, 2012 1:47 AM

    We need to start a public petition to remove the exceptional clauses from Article 19,otherwise this sort of jackassery will only continue. The clause to restrict free speech on the basis of it affecting ‘public decency’ or ‘offending sentiments’ is simply a conveniently large net to catch hold of any content the government does not like.

    Unless we have the equivalent of the First Amendment of the US constitution, arbitrary attempts to censorship will only continue.

  2. asha kachru permalink
    February 17, 2012 1:25 PM

    though there is no reasson to not allow any piece of work of social relevance to be shown and discussed, anywhere, particularly amongst youth, i find a bit too self centered and self praising what is happening here with sanjay kak’s films. i would hace preffered it, if the so-called progressive forces had been able to motivate the so-called right wing, Hindutva forces to come inside and take part in the discussion, rather than what has happened, that they were kept outside and no discussion took place within the 2 extremes. sanjay kak’s film, the one i have seen, gives too much importance to geelani likes and to martyrdom. it is a dangerous thing. we want our youth not to be mislead by anyone ideology, religious or political, but to develop the capacities to be critical and inquisitive.

    • Usman permalink
      February 18, 2012 12:51 AM

      i can applaud your concern for having dialogue and being inclusive. but i must say in clear words that your reading of this particular situation is absolutely wrong. given the extremely simplistic view you’ve taken i am assuming you are unaware of the role ABVP and Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena have played and continue to play on the Delhi University campus. they have a proud history of threatening and causing physical harm to organisers and participants of events they perceive to be against their politics, or morals, or even whims.
      from a progressive political perspective, it is indeed required, in my opinion, that many who stand with the right-wing, Hindutva forces like the ABVP and Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena (there is nothing so-called about this), be challenged to see and question what they stand for. the same applies to those associated with progressive efforts. and for this dialogue and debate is a must. but in the present context the question of a dialogue with these outfits simply does not arise. it is precisely the opportunity to discuss and debate the issue of kashmir that these outfits are bitterly against. the film screening was supposed to be a platform for this. your not recognising the fact that it is precisely the stifling of debate that these outfits stand for (regarding kashmir in the present case), leads you to make some baseless comments. they were not ‘kept outside’. they did not want anyone to come in for the screening, and if anyone did they threatened that they would come in and disrupt the proceedings. and the police sided with them! it was only through the efforts of the department of sociology, aisa and other students that the screening, for which over a hundred students turned up, was made possible.
      whatever their stand on kashmir maybe, this event clearly shows the anti-democratic nature of these organisations, as well as their fear of an open and democratic ideas. there is nothing contagious about jashn-e-azadi!
      and please dont lump the organisers of this screening with the ABVP and Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena by calling them “the 2 extremes”. if simply wanting to voice an opinion makes one an extremist then… well then you need a larger vocabulary.

      i also want to briefly respond to your comment on the ‘sanjay kak film that you’ve seen.’ it is not anyone’s problem if you think the idea of martyrdom and/or azadi, etc. is ‘a dangerous thing’. it is your problem. what jashn-e-azadi shows, and its not a boisterous film at all as i see it, is that there is a strong sentiment of ‘azadi’ in the valley, which even after kashmir being converted into the most heavily militarised zone in the world (over 7,00,000 soldiers of the indian army are deployed there), continues to live on. the film was completed by 2007 when there was seeming calm in the valley. 2008 onwards we have witnessed this sentiment manifest itself through various acts of public protest and resistance (recall the stone-pelting incidents widely covered by the media). so if anything the film deserves our attention.

      it is not my intention to ridicule you, but i will stick with my statements because i feel blunt statements are required. it is also our responsibility to see the part we are playing in inflicting upon the kashmiris what are unquestionably inhumane conditions. the indian state (and hence the army) acts in your name and mine. when we Indians think of kashmir we often ask the seemingly kind question – ‘what is it that THEY want?’ . its high time we junk this question. kashmir, before anything else, for us indians is a question about ourselves. about how we decide to live and act together. i am quite sure there are many of us who do not want the army to brutalise lives of kashmiris in our name. once we understand that we can think about what ‘THEY’ want.

      (I am a student at the department of sociology at DU, and was present for the screening of ‘jashn-e-azadi’)

  3. February 18, 2012 12:49 AM

    congratulations comrades from AISA

  4. asha kachru permalink
    February 19, 2012 9:23 AM

    usman, whilst on one hand you agree to the idea of pursuing debates and you want the progressive forces too to face the challanges, you contradict yourself then not trying to understand what i am trying to emphasize, namely the duty of us so-called progressive and more responsible type of people to create an environment to get the other party on the table, to learn to use such methods and techniques which will get them on the table. i know it is very difficult but i have come to the conclusion that there is no way out-we ALL need to learn to listen to the other side. also nobody has the final truth in his/her truth.

    secondly you again-like most (intellectuals too) muslims- do not talk about the reasons for the state of affairs, namely too much security forces, i agree, in the valley.and what the indian state has to sacrifice in terms of resources, both human and financial, to give security to the muslims in the valley.

    and you want to junk the question of azadi, why? whom do you have in mind? the non-Muslims too? the ladhakis, the dogras, the sikhs etc. etc.? no, you have only your own community in mind. this is the problem with you people, you are too self centered, muslim madrassas, muslim orphanages, Muslim function halls (even in viollages here)and even muslim tv channels with 24 hours brainwashing on Islam and the like.

    think for a moment what this reacts in the other religious people. to me or you it may not be making a difference, but the average Indian is a rather religious minded person.

    so what i want to try happen is that we also try to listen to and understand what the Hindu fundamentalists like in ABVP are saying and why. cant we be civilized enough to talk to each other rather, rather than just amongst ourselves, the progressive lot.

    i agree that i am more concerned about the impacts of islamic fundamentalism, al quaida, joshe mohmd, islamic brotherhood of even the arab spring movement and the negativities for women in islam, which is why i cannot leave your azadi discussion to itself. whom will they give azadi? think about it too.

    the women’s view may also be included in the debate, so do read my latest

    http://www.indiaresists.com/azadi-slogan-in-kashmir-exclucivist-kashmiri-women/

    • Usman permalink
      February 21, 2012 3:23 PM

      2 points.
      1 – I dont think you understand what i’m tryin to say regarding the movie screening in Delhi University. Of course it is the prerogative of those identifying with progressive politics to get people to debate and discuss. i said so in my previous reply to you as well. i said i can appreciate your concern for the process of dialogue, but your reading about THIS PARTICULAR SITUATION IS ABSOLUTELY WRONG. if you call for a discussion on any issue and an outfit known for its brazen use of force in a university campus threatens to violently disrupt your discussion IF ANYONE ATTENDS IT, then you cant talk to them at that particular moment. had it not been for the efforts that were made, it very well might have been the case that the sociology department would have suffered material damages, and injuries to its members like the history department did suffer at the hands of these very same goons in the recent past. the process of dialogue needs to be fostered but it was simply not possible (even if you come from the most idealist position) in this event. so please let there be no doubt about that. in the other things which i’m going to say below i will not mind as much if you disagree with me, but the point about this particular event needs to be understood without doubt. that point is not just about the kashmir issue, it is much more in fact an issue about the democratic space in one of the foremost Universities in the country. it is not just with regard to kashmir, but any other issue which if these guys feel goes counter to their politics, then they wont allow (in as far as their capacities allow) a public discussion of it in the university. my reason for making this point was not because i dislike the ABVP, but because it is something that is a telling commentary on the state of affairs in the university where certain outfits regularly use force or the threat of violence to disrupt what would be an open and democratic environment if allowed to be. this event is one more clear example of the anti-democratic nature of the ABVP and the Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena.

      2 – i am not amazed. because i half expected you to read whatever you want to in my name, but i do not consider myself a muslim when i say what i do. neither do i identify with the kashmiri muslim. i cant, its as simple. there’s no point to my mind in me trying to feel some brotherhood on the basis of religious identity. so please dont pigeonhole what i have to say by calling it some kind of muslim discourse where ‘we’ always only look at the concern of ‘our community’ and brainwash and dont care about what other communities feel.
      in an sensible discussion i would not need to declare my atheism or even anti-theism to claim legitimacy for what i’m saying, because i have not made a single point on the basis of any kind of religious affiliation or communitarian identification. please try and understand also in all of this the violence we often commit by reading people through such particular identities, which often they do not associate with or even oppose. i dont need to be a muslim to talk about kashmir, and even if i am i dont need to be treated as a representative of “the muslim community” when weighing my arguments.
      the points i have made previously are solely in the capacity of being a citizen. i.e. drawing from my membership of a particular nation state – India. and i believe i can make a claim from that position that i think that an army that acts in my name must not be allowed to treat a given set of people (those in kashmir, whoever they be) in the way they have treated them and continue to as well, that the AFSPA is a bad idea, etc.

      and as far as the question of azadi goes, i by no means suggested that we should not think about it. or not criticise it. what i did is to criticise a tendency i often have encountered, with others and with myself. which is when we are faced with the situation as it is our concern becomes “what does azadi mean, and what do they want?” i dont think all kashmiris even know what they want. but a clear sentiment – brought out in sanjay kak’s film – is there against what they see (and i wouldnt criticise this) as the occupation of the indian army. so all i said in my previous reply to you on this point was that as an indian the question of kashmir BEGINS WITH our obligation to account for what is happening in our name. we need to resolve that question before – and my position on that is that i do not want the army (which acts on orders of a government that acts in our name) to brutalise the lives of kashmiris – we can talk about what is the azadi they want. then we can think of us as even having a right to be party to the discussion about azadi, and disagreeing to it even. we can resolve the question of our obligation while even disagreeing with the question of what azadi entails. just because we dont agree with the idea of azadi (which in my understanding does not exist as a very coherent and fully laid out idea even for a majority of kashmiris) does not mean that we let the domination of the army over a people that resents it continue.

  5. February 20, 2012 5:07 PM

    Usman… as an Indian, the thing that comes first to my mind when it comes to Kashmir is the popular chant of swelling crowds in Srinagar and other places in Kashmir in 1989-90, when Kashmiri Pandits still lived in the valley, there was no army, and Kashmiri muslims thought freedom was just days away.

    “Let the Pandit men leave Kashmir , but let them leave their women behind”….

Trackbacks

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