JNU under seige: Ayesha Kidwai
AYESHA KIDWAI, Professor at JNU, on her Facebook page yesterday
For whom Our Constitution and its values are dear
There is no doubt that the Jawaharlal Nehru University is under siege right now. You will all have to forgive me the length of this post, but it is necessary so that we all understand that maintaining calm and mutual support is the only way we are going to get through this.
1. The JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar has been picked up and produced at the Patiala Court, which has remanded him to three days of police custody. He has legal representation, but the charges are, as you all know, serious. He is the first person who the police went to pick up even though he was not an organiser of the event that is being used to legitimise what has happening.
2. We are told that the police/IB has a list of twenty odd names of students that they want to pick up, although the FIR itself is against unidentified students. This happened while classes were taking place, seminars were being held and the whole university was normal. Even after that, no incident that disturbed the peace of the campus has taken place. AND WE ARE GOING TO KEEP IT THAT WAY.3. In a letter signed by the Registrar, the university has given the police the blanket permission to take any action as it deems fit. This is a shocking and unacceptable permission given without even an attempt at verification of the police’s claims, as it makes everything we do in the university –teach, study, educate, organise, and agitate — something which the police can investigate and act upon. As teachers, we will not be intimidated by this attack on our academic freedom and will continue to teach and study with the critical, probing, questioning eye that our various disciplines hold in the highest regard. Big brother can watch us and we can only hope that he will go back better educated.
We are told that the charges being sedition and criminal conspiracy gives the police the power to roam around the campus entering hostels and searching rooms. THIS IS NOT TRUE, AND THERE HAS TO BE A SEARCH WARRANT WITH A NAME ON IT. If the police has indeed been in violation of this basic requirement, this is telling.
4. The University administration has also given the police the assurance that they are committed to installing surveillance devices across the campus, presumably in accordance with the surveillance guidelines of the UGC (which I have written about earlier). We reject these assurances — JNU is one the safest campuses in the world, because our campus culture teaches (most of) us mutual respect and concern for each other.
ANY INCIDENT OF PROVOKED OR UNPROVOKED CONFRONTATION WILL BE PRESENTED AS A JUSTIFICATION FOR THESE MEASURES.
5. At 2.00 pm this afternoon after the arrest, the JNUTA called an emergency meeting to discuss the issue. We then all moved to the administration block where a large number of students had gathered. We are all agreed that this campaign of shutting JNU down is not going to be allowed to come to fruition. WHILE WE REFUSE TO ‘NORMALISE’ THIS SITUATION OF POLICE DEPLOYMENT AND AN EVER-PRESENT THREAT OF POLICE ACTION, THE THREAT IS AS MUCH TO OUR LIBERTY TO EDUCATE AS IT IS TO OUR FREEDOM TO ORGANISE AND AGITATE.
6. JNUTA held a press conference and called for a community march at 7.30 pm, in which more than 200 students and teachers participated. THIS WAS A COMPLETELY PEACEFUL EVENT AS IT ALWAYS IS IN JNU. IT IS A FACT THAT THE POLICE ACTION IS THE ONLY REASON WHY JNU HAS BEEN DESTABILISED.
7. After the March, we have received a notice that 8 students have been suspended pending enquiry by a ‘high level enquiry committee’ set up by the patriotic JNU administration to look into the February 9 incident. The students have been allowed to stay on as guests in the hostels. Despite appeals by scores of teachers to de-escalate, this is another attempt to disrupt, and we must be vigilant. THE STUDENTS SO SUSPENDED HAVE RIGHTS AND WE SHALL DEMAND THE UNIVERSITY RESPECT EACH ONE OF THEM.
There is no cause for despondency. I know that the orchestrated media campaign against JNU, the top-ranked university in the country, is very distressing. Let me assure you that the world knows this already, and knows why all this is happening.