Skip to content

Statements of Solidarity For JNU From Various Quarters

February 16, 2016

We at Kafila have been receiving amazing statements of solidarity with JNU and its elected students’ President Kanhaiya Kumar over the past three days. We are posting them below, along with affiliations: South Asia University (teachers and students); Grinnell College, USA, Ambedkar University Delhi Faculty Association, Democratic Teachers Network, Hyderabad, and over a hundred students from Department of English, Delhi University.

 

STUDENTS OF SOUTH ASIA UNIVERSITY

We, the students of South Asian University, New Delhi (comprising of students from eight SAARC nations – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) strongly oppose the idea that one’s nationalism be defined in terms of hatred towards another nation (for example, Indian nationalism be defined as hatred towards Pakistan, or vice versa). We cherish the common cultural and social heritage of the South Asian region, and shall not let any kind of jingoist nationalism being endorsed by any religious group, political party or state hinder our shared solidarity. However, in recent times, such groups and establishments have unleashed an attack on democratic and critical voices in our universities across the South Asian region, masked under religious conformity, state intervention or sometimes in the form of an act of terrorism.

Thus, we stand in complete solidarity with the student and faculty community of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in their collective struggle against the ongoing police intervention by slapping the baseless charges of sedition on many students, including the arrest of JNUSU President – Kanhaiya Kumar, and against the massive propaganda terming the JNU as ‘a den of anti-nationals’. We would like to reiterate that our collective nationalism stands responsible only to the interests of our people and our land, and not to the divisive forces which have had and are still trying to create boundaries between us.

STATEMENT OF SOLIDARITY WITH STUDENT PROTESTS IN INDIA, FROM STUDENTS, FACULTY, AND STAFF OF GRINNELL COLLEGE

Grinnell-JNU Solidarity

We, the undersigned students and faculty of Grinnell College, strongly condemn the arbitrary, unconstitutional, and anti-democratic actions of the BJP/RSS/ABVP/Delhi Police nexus at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus. We demand an immediate end to all police presence on campus, a withdrawal of all frivolous charges against the President of JNU Students’ Union, Kanhaiya Kumar, activist Umar Khalid, and other students, as well as an end to the campaign of harassment against JNU students.

This crackdown comes on the heels of a protest on the third anniversary of the state execution of Afzal Guru, mass mobilizations in response to the death of Rohith Vemula at Hyderabad University, and resistance to the slashing of funding for higher education across the country. These and other agitations demonstrate the connection of the silencing of dissent on university campuses like JNU to the larger capitalist-Hindutva hegemony imposed by the Indian state across the country. Just as Rohith Vemula and his comrades were branded as “anti-national” for their opposition to the hanging of Yakub Memom, a branding which brought about sanctions and Vemula’s ultimate suicide in Hyderabad, JNU organizers, and the campus as a whole, are being branded as “anti-national” in an effort to squelch dissent.

We condemn the criminalization of dissent against state policies and see its connections with the political context here in the United States, in which the brandings of “terrorist” and Islamaphobic ideologies are mobilized to justify violent state polices and divide progressive opposition. We also see the connections between an increasingly emboldened right wing in India and in the United States and its symbiotic relationship with the growing neoliberal connections between the two governments.

We are also disconcerted by some in the Indian media who claim that, since central and state governments subsidize education in public institutions, it is the responsibility of their students to withhold critiques of state policies and to solely engage in their studies, as if studies are not tied up in the politics of the state to begin with. This view of education is nothing but a reflection of the ruling capitalist-Hindutva character of the state, which seeks to limit the right to dissent while simultaneously giving free reign to right wing student organizations. Indeed, we strongly support the right of students in public universities to engage in political activism that is critical of the state, capital, and Hindu nationalism. The rights to free speech, dissent, and public education are guaranteed in the Indian Constitution, fundamental to democracy, and are all the more necessary in a climate of increased global repression under neoliberalism.

To our friends, comrades, and colleagues in JNU and beyond, we stand in solidarity with your struggle to resist to the criminalization of dissent and the draconian colonial-era sedition laws being used to intimidate. To all of you detained, facing charges, and subject to threats of violence and even death, we commend your courage in the face of these reactionary attacks. We call others in the United States to stand up in opposition to the actions taken against JNU students and commit to making our own colleges and universities not spaces for the replication of ruling ideology, but instead for thoughtful critique in an effort to build a more just society.

Avantika Johri, Class of 2018

Jacob Cohn, Class of 2016

Moses Gaither-Ganim, Class of 2016

Vincent Kelley, Class of 2016

Phoebe Mogharei, Class of 2016

Taylor Burton, Class of 2018

Dhruv Gupta, Class of 2017

Phillip Gentle, Class of 2017

Eli Shepherd, Class of 2018

Justin Leuba, Class of 2018

Abraham Mhaidli, Class of 2017

Elizabeth Prevost, Associate Professor of History

Radhika Malaviya, Class of 2018

Rosie O’Brien, Class of 2016

Jalyn Marks, Class of 2016

Cassandra Miller, Class of 2016

Shuchi Kapila, Professor of English

Anjali Jha, Class of 2019

Karol Sadkowski, Class of 2016

Sarah Arena, Class of 2016

Tasnim Tabassum, Class of 2016

Jelena Kaplanovic, Class of 2016

Tom Earnest, Class of 2016

Barnad Sigdel, Class of 2019

Mark Laver, Assistant Professor of Music

Jackie Mukinisha, Class of 2016

Cecilia Kwakye, Class of 2017

Veethi Vyas, Class of 2016

Tim Dobe, Associate Professor of Religious Studies

Isabel Monaghan, Class of 2016

Takshil Sachdev, Class of 2019

Kelly Pyzik, Class of 2016

Hameedullah Weaver, Class of 2017

Jennifer Joy, Class of 2016

Sheva Greenwood, Class of 2016

Isabel Cooke, Class of 2016

Tyler Roberts, Professor of Religious Studies

Youngbin Song, Class of 2015

Kenneth Wee, Class of 2016

Abdulhamid Sidi, Dining Services

Madeline Warnick, Class of 2016

Vedika Haralalka, Class of 2018

Jeremy Chen, Assistant Professor of Art

Sarina Farb, Class of 2016

Androniki Mitrou, Class of 2017

Jermaine Stewart-Webb, Class of 2016

Jonathan Andelson, Professor of Anthropology

Alexandra Odom, Class of 2016

Gabe Singer, Class of 2016

Dixon Romeo, Class of 2016

Chris Hellmann, Class of 2016

Jon Sundby, Class of 2017

 

AMBEDKAR UNIVERSITY DELHI FACULTY ASSOCIATION

PRESS RELEASE

14/02/16

AUDFA is shocked and deeply concerned with the course of events in the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi since 12th February, Friday. AUDFA condemns the police entering and conducting indiscriminate raids on campus, searching hostel rooms without warrant as well as the arrest of the duly elected JNU Student Union President, Kanhaiyya Kumar on sedition charges on 12th February 2016. The police are in the look out for many other students. This kind of police action on the pretext of national security and branding any kind of dissent as anti-national is a dangerous and undemocratic practice—a feature that was witnessed by University of Hyderabad recently and now JNU. Universities are necessarily sites of dialogue, debate, dissent and emergent ideas and philosophies—an ethos deeply enshrined in our Constitution. Having police on campus and creating an atmosphere of fear among students and other members of a University community is in violation to the spirit of the Constitution and undermines critical thinking within our Universities.

AUDFA expresses solidarity with all progressive voices of JNU—students, faculty members and administrative staff, at this difficult moment when democratic principles of a University are under threat.

Gopalji Pradhan                                 Rukmini Sen                           Arindam Banerjee

Secretary                                             President                                 Treasurer

 

SOUTH ASIAN UNIVERSITY FACULTY ASSOCIATION (SAUFA)

Statement in solidarity with Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers Association (JNUTA) and student community

We the faculty members of the South Asian University are deeply disturbed by the developments at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi in the last few days. President of the JNU Students Union was arrested with the charges of sedition and some more students are being looked out for by the police. As reported it was the fall out of an incident involving a programme organized by some students in which some slogans were made which were alleged to be “anti-national”.

We the undersigned are of the view that universities are meant to be places for critical thinking and ideas which may sometimes contradict with the views of the powers that be or may go against the dominant and established views. We understand that freedom of speech and expression comes with certain reasonable restrictions. However, as long as it remains at the level of expression and exchange of ideas and views without preventing the possibility of expression of counter ideas and views it should be seen as healthy form of dissent in a democracy. It is equally so in a democratic country like India. We feel the highhanded involvement of the government and its police machinery in JNU as interference in the academic autonomy of a University which, in our view, would not augur well for any democratic country.

We also strongly condemn the attack on JNU teachers, students and journalists in the Patiala House court premises. We therefore stand in solidarity with the JNUTA which along with the JNU student community has taken the right step of defending the academic autonomy of the University.

Deepa Sinha, President, SAUFA

Yuba Raj Pokharel, Secretary, SAUFA

15 February 2016

 

DEMOCRATIC TEACHERS NETWORK (HYDERABAD)

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.

 

Statement of Solidarity by the Students of English Department, Delhi University Against the Police Siege of JNU

As students and research scholars at the Department of English, University of Delhi, we solemnly condemn the ongoing police and state interference at Jawaharlal Nehru University and the ghastly arrest of the JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar on the charges of sedition. This arrest and the ongoing police action in universities across the nation, in the wake of Rohith Vemula’s suicide, is orchestrating a broader spectrum of fear and a sense of students being hunted for their political and cultural views. The social moorings of such attacks are clearly castiest and patriarchal. The student body of any university rests on the founding pillars of a free sharing of ideas and views, which is an intricate part of higher education by any international standard. Imposition of restrictions on this aspect of education is not only against the spirit of democracy but also decidedly detrimental to the very idea of equitable learning. Further, considering that the multiple facets of higher education provide- as ideas and ideologies-the grounding necessary for the progress of any country, the violent curtailment and control of the production of these ideas is injurious to not only the space of the university but also the contested and multiple ideas of the nation. The list of violent interventions by police and student bodies on protesters in recent times is too long to be cited in full. Film and Television Institute of India saw the first wave of these interventions by the police followed by the violent crackdown upon scholars protesting against UGC in Delhi. The Rohith Vemula suicide in the University of Hyderabad was preceded by scholars being ousted from their hostel and followed by police and citizen violence upon protesters in Delhi. These Police intercessions should also be understood as the deliberate attempts by governing institutions as they are to shift the main focus of each movement from the original ideological questions driving such movements to the senselessness and brutality of these Police incursions. In effect, a swift and complete opposition to such crackdowns is necessary to make a counter-political statement as well. As students and scholars who look up to institutes of higher education as spaces for free speech and interaction we wish to make our voices heard so that the right to not only hold views but to develop them is not taken away from us by the use of violence or the hanging fear of it.

Signatures:

M.Phil/Ph.D

  1. Ritwick Bhattacharjee
  2. Azharuddin
  3. Swarnima Bhattacharya
  4. Kritika Chettri
  5. Rachit Anand
  6. Tina Das
  7. Rajorshi Das
  8. Somya Tyagi
  9. Shruti Sareen
  10. Rahul Sen
  11. Laboni Bhattacharya
  12. Deeksha Suri
  13. Thinkal Hansan
  14. Arijeet Mandal

M.A.

  1. Rohan Munshi
  2. Aman Nawaz
  3. Saburi Pandita
  4. Raushan Kamdar
  5. Harleen Kaur
  6. Anchal Bansal
  7. Jyoti Yadav
  8. Mustahseenur Rahman
  9. Vaishali Gahlot
  10. Tapasya Pandita
  11. Brian H. Singson
  12. Nang Plabita Gogoi
  13. Srirupa Goswami
  14. Akanksha Ahluwalia
  15. Surabhi Goel
  16. Mikesh Rai
  17. Hitesh Kumar
  18. Rachit Raj
  19. Shalini Kaushik
  20. Lanu Tzudir
  21. Jenisha Singh
  22. Gunjan Gahlot
  23. Anoorag Bordoloi
  24. Bibin K. Antony
  25. Suma Sankar
  26. Agrima Verma
  27. Rajesh Mondal
  28. Aman Kumar
  29. Neelkanth Pan
  30. Sanjukta Das Bhowmik
  31. Akriti Asthana
  32. Deeksha Bhardwaj
  33. Asif Ali
  34. Prakriti Das
  35. Suvasnnigdha Sethi
  36. Minuka Tamang
  37. Amit Akshay Yadav
  38. Raveena Kohli
  39. Isha Sharma
  40. Conan Karchang Doley
  41. Hansa Kumari
  42. Aribam Siddharth Sharma
  43. Kashish Badar
  44. Gaurav Kumar
  45. Parul Singh
  46. Bijit Sinha
  47. Arpan Naithani
  48. Bhaswar Faisal Khan
  49. Ipshita Sengupta
  50. Sangeeta Yadav
  51. Rukhsar Hussain
  52. Debatri Sengupta
  53. Raja Boboy Chiru
  54. Cheshta Rajora
  55. Harjeet Kaur
  56. Ariba Alam
  57. Saheb Kaur
  58. Raksha Thakur
  59. Mansi Kaushik
  60. Tanvi Hans
  61. Gargee Baruah
  62. Titas Bose
  63. Alolika De
  64. Sharanya Dutta
  65. Natallia Khaniejo
  66. Parikshit Singh Rawat
  67. Meenakshi Shukla
  68. Anna George
  69. Himani Sagar
  70. Recho Banjamin
  71. Anshu Deshwal
  72. Pragati Kandpal
  73. Urvi Singh
  74. Richa Sharma
  75. Sushmita Sengupta
  76. Tanya Jain
  77. Anam Kazmi
  78. Geetika Sharma
  79. Shwetha Kadiyala
  80. Anugya Soni
  81. Pratyosh Gogoi
  82. Renu Yadav
  83. Snehal Annie
  84. Ranjini Nair
  85. Purandhya
  86. Amrita Sekhar
  87. Anjali Thakur
  88. Nishtha Relan
  89. Rashmi Singha
  90. Neeharika Singh
  91. Pamziuliu Gonmei
  92. Rabisha Thakur
  93. Ayesha Rahmat
  94. Shreya Ayengar
  95. Rohan Prakash
  96. Gohita Basotiya
  97. Elizabeth Chakma
  98. Avinash K. Jha
  99. Jaideep Pandey
5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 16, 2016 7:43 PM

    Great to see so many endorsements and expressions of solidarity. Just wanted to add my voice in solidarity with JNUSU and with the JNU Teachers’ Association in this matter and condemning in the strongest terms the attack on JNU students and in particular the strong-armed arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar the JNUSU President.. from far away Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). I would also beg the Kafila moderators be a bit ‘relaxed’ in their moderation so we get to hear most of the ‘other’ voices with or without hate. We need to hear those too…

  2. K SHESHU BABU permalink
    February 17, 2016 9:44 AM

    The fight will go on and on… Gadar sang :

    Aagadu! Aagadu! Aagadu! Aagadu! Ee akali pooru aagadu!
    (Shall not stop! Shall never stop! This hunger struggle will not stop! )
    Free translation

  3. Dr. Shreelina Ghosh permalink
    February 18, 2016 11:59 AM

    Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high. … Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Trackbacks

  1. Solidarity with student protesters at JNU! — National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts
  2. Facebook’s shameless “colonial” ambitions: Why its aggressive play for Indian users was rightfully banned | Newslair

We look forward to your comments. Comments are subject to moderation as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 71,915 other followers

%d bloggers like this: