Masked Goons in JNU

January 6, 2020

Rohit Dhankar

Students and teachers were attacked on 5th January 2020 in JNU by masked goons armed with sticks, iron rods and stones. The violence is condemnable in the strongest possible terms and is completely unacceptable. The ABVP and Left Groups of JNU are blaming each other for the violence. Reposts in three national newspapers (The Hindu, The Indian Express and The Pioneer) indicate clearly that the goons most probably belonged to ABVP and the police if not in connivance was certainly soft on them. The police can hardly afford to be soft on violence of this scale and intensity without some kind of indication from the government.

If the government and police cannot nab the goons and place credible evidence of their identity and involvement before the nation soon enough then either the state is dangerously incompetent or it is all its own doing. In both the cases India has elected a very bad lot to govern itself. The statements from police that some miscreants were involved, of whose identity they don’t know is not satisfactory. It is not reasonable to assume that the Indian state can not find out who these people were. Therefore, if no one is caught for this act of violence then it would be very reasonable to assume that it was with government and police encouragement.

A government—in case it is true—which can use goons to break protests, be they justified or unjustified, be they peaceful or violent; will spell disaster for the country and can not be tolerated. Therefore, it is imperative for the government to catch the culprits if it wants to absolve itself of the charges levelled at it.

The second point in this episode is something that did not attract much attention. The Pioneer notes that “[M]inor clashes were reported on Friday when in an attempt to restrict students from getting registered for new semester, some students allegedly barged into the room used to provide power to Wi-Fi connection to entire campus and shut it down. The protesting students claimed that stopping the registration process was essential as the registration was being done as per hiked fee structure.” The registrar also claims in his press note: “From 1 January 2020, the Winter semester registration was going on smoothly. However, on 3rd January, a group of students opposing the registration process entered the Communication and Information Services (CIS) premises, covering their faces with masks and forcibly evicted the technical staff and made the servers disfunctional. This led to the discontinuation of the registration process on 3rd January. A police complaint was filed immediately identifying the students. However, on 4th January morning, the technical staff again made the CIS functional. Immediately, thousands of students started registering by paying the new hostel room rent. A group of students who are bent upon stopping the registration process, again entered the CIS premises with a criminal intent to make the servers disfunclional. They damaged the power supplies, broke the optical fibres and made the servers disfunctional again on 4th January around 1 PM disrupting the registration process. A police complaint was again filed against the miscreants. For the past few days, the group of agitating students also closed the buildings of some Schools preventing the non-agitating students, staff and the faculty members. On 5th January, when the students who have registered in the winter semester wanted to enter these school buildings, they were physically prevented by the agitating students. Since the 5th January afternoon, the campus has witnessed scuffles at the Schools as well as inside the hostel premises between the groups of students who wanted to stop the registration and those who wanted to register and continue their studies. Around 4.30 PM, a group of students, who are against the registration process moved aggressively from the front of the admin block and reached the hostels. The administration immediatedly contacted the Police to come quickly and maintain law and order on the campus. However, by the time police came, the students who are for the registration were beaten up by a group of agitating students opposting the registration. Some masked miscreants also entered the Periyar hostel rooms and attacked the students with sticks and rods. Some of the security guards doing duties at these places were also badly injured. During the last couple of weeks, these agitating students also vandalized the admin block and ransacked the office of the Vice Chancellor for which a few police complaints were filed. It is unfortunate that a group of students with their violent means of protests are preventing thousands of non-agitating students from pursuing their academic activities.”

If what The Pioneer and the JNU Registrar write be true then the acts of agitating students are also seriously condemnable. They certainly have the right to agitate and not to register for next semester at hiked fees; but have no right to forcibly stop those who want to pay the fee and want to register. Agitations and protests are to communicate their dissatisfaction and reasons thereof to the government and the larger public. Through these means one wants to persuade and convince others; it is not a license to force others to do what protesters want. Therefore, forcibly stopping others is not acceptable. How ever this unacceptable act of protesting students—in case it is true—does not justify the attack on them.

Another point in this episode is the statements of political leaders. Particularly Rahul Gandhi and D Raja. They are absolutely right in condemning the act of violence and also in suspecting the police and the government connivance in this. But they said not a word about the condemnable behaviour of agitating students in vandalising the communication system and forcibly stopping other students from registering. One may argue that they did not believe that the agitating students indulged in aforementioned acts. In that case they should at least have denied such false allegation coming from the registrar.

The language Mr. Rahul Gandhi and Mr. D. Raja use is completely non-communicative to the large sections of Indian public and is completely stultified. If they want to defeat BJP by their slogan of fascism then they will have to wait for 50 years. Their stock characterisation of anything wrong happening which they want to blame on the government is “fascism”. How many Indians who may read their statements are likely to understand what they are saying? How many of their own followers can actually distinguish Fascism from Communism (which have so much in common) and Fascism from Indira Gandhi’s congress? To me their pronouncements seem completely worn out clichés. In comparison Prinyanka Gandhi Wadra seems to be learning a language which may be able to communicate some meaning to people someday.

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6th January 2020


The Guardians of the Nation, The Warriors of Justice and the Sheep

April 26, 2016

Rohit Dhankar

 “One thing I feel very solemnly is that, if indeed some of these statements were made, such as “destroy the nation,” “barbadi Bharat,” and so on—they ought not to have been made. Anything that borders on condemnation of the national integrity and unity as such should be severely punished. That much is clear to me: whether they [the accused] said that, or who said what, and how, and when, will come out as a result of these enquiries.” Upendra Baxi. (Emphasis as bold and underlined added, italics original.)

http://www.caravanmagazine.in/vantage/democracy-must-not-distrust-suspect-dissent-disagree

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We are the nation

We are the guardians of the true culture of this land.

All that is different from what we think is contamination in our pristine culture.

We are the guardians of the nation and the culture.

If you disagree with us: We will attack you, every where

We will attack you in the courts, on the streets

We will tell you how to express your patriotism, all other form are of no consequence.

Some of us will talk nice and legal language

Others will threat to kill

We are the same, the legal talk is to assure you; threat is necessary to bring you to the right path.

We will decide what you can eat, if you disagree our vigilante groups will attack you.

We will tell our women what to wear, whom to love. Those who disagree will be punished, insulted.

If you disagree with us: Go to Pakistan.

Amen!

*******

We want justice

We are the law unto ourselves.

If committees are to be appointed they should have all the people we want. If not, they are a farce.

If the police acts before the University processes are given time, that is wrong (This is genuinely wrong—Rohit), if the University processes follow, we do not accept the result. As you know, they are dictated by the RSS.

If Supreme Court gives a judgment it is determined by the Brahamanical conscience.

If the punished happen to belong to Dalits, Minority, or OBC it is the dominant castes suppressing and silencing them.

If the committees ask us to depose, we reject the committees.

We reject the legitimacy of the Indian state. (Not all of us, but we don’t allow to single out those who do, some of us make noises of accepting the nation and the constitution to shield all of us.)

We do not consider nation important.

We are fighting for greater justice.

We are the law, we are the judge.

If you touch us we will raise an international hue and cry. Our Guru’s are too well connected, their word is the truth.

We are engaged in bringing about a revolution.

We are the law unto ourselves.

If you disagree with us you are status-quoist, a rightist, a casteist, a majoritarian. You do not understand.

You see, we are the law and we are also the truth.

Amen!!

******

We are the sheep

We are the sheep

We follow, blindly

We make crowd in your speeches and slogans

We shout what you want us to shout

Clap when you want us to clap.

We remain invisible and give you visibility

We make the stool on which you stand and look tall

Our eyes and shut

Our minds are closed

We go by our emotions which you know how to manipulate

We lose our mind

And our existence

In your mind and your existence

We cease to be, to make you exist

 

Someday, yes, someday

Ours eyes will open

Our eyes when opened

Become the third eye of Shiva

Then we will get our minds back

Then we will get out existence back

Then you will cease to be

The opened eye of Shiva

Burns all evil

Amen!!!

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What should be the nature of campus politics?

April 9, 2016

Rohit Dhankar

One important, some would say the most important, aim of education is to be able to do right kind of politics, or to keep politics directed to greater common good. Therefore, separating political thinking and action from education, particularly higher education, would go against the educational purposes. If politics is accepted as part of education in this sense then one also has to think of its nature in the campuses. It could be seen as part of the overall campus environment and culture. The environment and culture in campuses, however, may have to conform to some criteria that are in alignment with the educational purposes. And that may have some implications for the politics in the campuses.

In order to investigate the issue let us start with the politics as it is played out in our country in general. Politics, as the oft repeated truism goes, is always to capture power. However every politician would claim that she/he or his/her party wants to capture power so that they can make people’s lives better; that they are not trying to capture power for any vainglorious reasons or for personal gains. They want to ‘serve the people’ as the adage goes. However, we also know that in their pursuit of power all parties and almost all politician use lies, twist truth, make false promises, deceive the public and their opponents, indulge in character assassination and personal attacks, create animosity between communities and often indulge in direct or indirect violence. In short, we can say that in the politics, as it is played out in India, the principles of truth and morality are conspicuous only by their absence.

The political parties and politicians indulge in untruth and immorality partly because they define their greater common good keeping in mind the vote-politics. For example, promising reservation for the caste X, may or may not be in the benefit of the society as a whole, it may even violate the basic principles of the constitution; but if it is likely to get votes then politicians will promise it, even when they know that they cannot fulfil the promise.

One can of course argue that when politicians are responding to the demand of caste X for reservation they are responding to aspirations of a section of population; and that is what democracy is all about. But public aspirations can be motivated by jealousy, selfishness, animosity to the others, and so on. They may be justified as per the constitution and morality, but may also be unjustified. When a politician looks only at the vote-catching potential of a policy and disregards legal and moral demands s/he is indulging in immoral politics.

Now the very idea of an educational institution like a university is based on setting time and place apart from the mundane routine of life. Here the students are not expected to either produce something nor are they expected to render any direct service to the society. The idea is that they are preparing themselves for producing goods and rendering services in future. By the time the students reach the university it is not the case that they cannot directly contribute to production and services; it is rather that they deepen their understanding and hone their skills to meet higher standards in whatever they produce and whatever services they render. Thus the idea of academic standards in knowledge and skills is the guiding factor in a university. Another aspect of education is directly related to the educatee’s own life: so that s/he can work out her own life goals and ways of achieving them. This, again, demands standards of knowledge and skill.

Contributing to the society as well as choosing one’s own life goals have a strong ethical dimension to it. They demand meeting some moral standards in one’s behaviour, actions and thinking. Educational campuses then demand certain standards of truth and morality. That raises the question of nature of politics in the campuses. Obviously, the nature of politics there in cannot be the same kind of politics which is done outside; simply because it violates the very principles of truth and morality; and university campuses are especially created to develop understanding of and commitment to these very principles.

This is not an argument to ban politics in the universities; neither is this an argument to tightly control and monitor university student politics. However, it certainly puts some responsibility on the university teachers and administration. One of these conditions is simply the quality of knowledge and pedagogical processes in the universities.

A university that fails in teaching standards of and commitment to truth is certainly not doing its job. It can fail in this venture in many ways: by providing partial information, by failing to teach rigour of reasoning, by failing to teach distinction between subjective emotional reaction and reasoned argument which can take others’ view point in account, and by indoctrination. It can also fail to create a commitment to truth: meaning commitment to seek evidence and argument for believing or disbelieving something. Or it can fail to develop moral commitment to truth: that what is true is true, even if it is inconvenient or even against my purposes.

The second part of the university teaching has to be the flourishing of people, well-being of all in the society to which a student is likely to contribute as well from which s/he is likely to draw her/his own purposes, joys, energy and fulfilment of life.

All this suggests that the campus politics has to set higher standards of fidelity to truth, to moral standards and to democratic norms. It has to be a politics of principles and not that of power. Otherwise it contributes nothing to the political scenario of the country and becomes simply a ploy for indoctrination into various hardened positions. Indoctrination is completely antithetical to academic standards.

We should realize that indoctrination is not a simple acceptance of a view on something, not a simple acceptance of a belief. It means installing a belief in one’s mind at such a deep level and with such complete blindness that one becomes incapable of examining the truth of that belief. It becomes an article of faith; it becomes a yardstick to measure other beliefs. An indoctrinated mind is necessarily a closed mind, and an indoctrinated person is nothing but a tool in the hands of those who indoctrinate him/her.

Recently an activist friend quoted another famous activist saying that ‘whenever there is complaint of sexual harassment I (the famous activist) can take only one stand: that the woman is right. Period.’ Now we all know that sexual harassment by men is rampant and women are most often the victims. But this refusal to check facts and being guided by the fixed principle that in such cases ‘woman is always right’ is indoctrination; it blinds the person completely. This person cannot entertain questions and cannot serve the truth. This is elevating a personal bias to the level of a religious dogma. This kind of dogmas can be of many hues and about many groups of population. A dalit or a higher caste person can be ‘always right’. A Hindu or a Muslim can be ‘always right’. A rich or a poor can be ‘always right’. Such dogmas give a lot of psychological solace to their believers, the decision for them becomes much easier and almost mechanical. Questioning them becomes psychologically disturbing. But they also make the world black-and-white, and the believer a mindless bigot.

In such a situation there can be no place for questions and demanding facts and justifications. Anyone who demands facts and sound arguments is name-called and derided. In general this is the politics RSS-group has been doing for long. The terms like “sicular”, “prestitute”, “AAPtard”, etc are product of this kind of mindless attack. The campus politics now is well advanced on this path. Watch the questions Kanhaiya asks of Makarand Paranjape after his lecture. None of his 5 questions has anything to do with the lecture. They all are about ‘what is your party?’ and whether ‘you condemn this or that?’. This is the student mind that the present day campus politics produces.

Ask JNU teachers and students (only those who are visible in in this supposed to be fight for democracy) whether there is a difference between ‘slogan shouting’ and ‘discussion’ on an issue? Ask them to substantiate the claim made by one of them that India illegally occupies Kashmir. Ask them to clarify whether they reject the Indian state? And if they do, what attitude Indian state should take towards them? All you will get is a tag of being with the ‘right wing’. No clarity, no answers.

Ask the Hyderabad protesters what does ‘institutional murder’ mean? Ask them to justify their claim that Hyderabad University wilfully murdered Rohith Vemula. Ask them whether it is justified to demand resignation of a VC solely on the basis of the charges you stick on him, without any enquiry? Ask them to explain the crossed text and other lines in Rohith Vemula’s suicide note; and all you will get is BJP did this or that, or you are an anti-dalit.

In these two cases the students are playing in the hands of a certain kind of politics. Then comes NIT Srinagar. There seems to be a deliberately created situation which pitches non-Kashmiri students against the Kashmiri students. Giving the signal that ‘if you can create a mountain out of a mole hill in JNU, we can do the same in NIT Srinagar’. If you can indoctrinate some students in ‘leftist’ politics we can indoctrinate some others in the ‘rightist’ politics. The casualty in the both cases are truth and ethics. We see the attack on the universities in terms of capturing them from outside, but we ignore the rot that is being set in them from inside. The rot which is the enemy of all that a university should stand for: rigorous commitment to truth and ethics, fair thinking, taking all facts into account and keeping our biases under check.

Biased and theoretically blinded teachers and students are a much bigger danger to the universities than anything else. International support created on the basis of personal connections cultivated over years does not necessarily serve the truth. Even Chomskys can be misled by their trusted colleagues.

******


Indoctrination in JNU?

March 11, 2016

Rohit Dhankar

In the social media in last about a year half the BJP supporter (derisively called ‘Bhaktas’) have proved again and again the point of intolerance made by many people. Each time someone pointed out that there are pockets of Indian people and regions where intolerance for alternative views and practices is growing; these so-called bhaktas attacked that person viciously on the social media. Many people have been pointing out that such behavior actually proves the point being made.

I have been writing that there are many kinds of bhaktas in this country; they don’t come only in the saffron hue, there are also red and green bhaktas. This point is at least partially proved in the lecture on nationalism given by Makarand Paranjape; particularly in the question-answer after lecture.

Some of the points made by Professor Paranjape

To understand the issue I am raising it is necessary to take a few points from Professor Paranjape’s lecture. I am not trying to summarize or analyze his whole lecture; but citing few examples.

He was making an attempt to explore what he calls the “diatopical hermeneutics” which means placing oneself simultaneously inside and outside of what one is critiquing, because each ideological position is incomplete. If we cut the academic jargon this means being self-critical and recognizing the problems with one’s own position; and also listening to the other.

In this attempt he talked of Tagore and Gandhi on nationalism and made a point that their ideas on nationalism, India and Indian culture were complex and cannot be reduced to simple positions. While they criticize nationalism they also see value in the Idea of nationhood. Their, particularly Tagore’s, writing against the idea of nationalism has European nationalism in mind. He seems to be looking for a less problematic form of belongingness to the nation.

Professor Pranjape made it very clear that he stands for autonomy of institutions and opposes any attempts to throttle voices in the name of nationalism or religion or culture. He also made it clear that he does not support the current doing of the government, nor does he support the kind of hooliganism that happened in Patiala House Court. He accepted that the BJP and its supporters today are trying to curtail people’s freedom of expression and he opposes that.

But then he also made several points about the behavior of the left in India, historically and the present JNU campaign; and made a plea for self-critique or reflection. Any critical person should have paid attention to the points he made. Some of those points are as below.

He pointed out that yes, fascism is anti-democratic and that the RSS did have admiration for their authoritarian methods of running the government. But Stalinism and Maoism are also anti-democratic. And the Indian left has been actually going beyond simple admiration of these two and has been using them as their political ideologies. The number of people killed and silenced by Stalin ran into millions. He established the relevance of this comment by giving instances. He also claimed that the communist line in India follows the Stalinist line that the revolution in India will be a twostep process; where in the first step bourgeoisie will capture power and then the proper communist rule will come.

He posed a question that why “different sheds of the left in India have a great difficulty in accepting the legitimacy of the elected government of India?” The most devastating question he asked of the JNU left is “when you say that we will over throw the elected government where do you derive your legitimacy from?” This is a question every Indian should be asking them. His answer is that this legitimation and authorization is derived from “ideology, it is a syllogistic authorization” and not derived from the people through any plebiscite.

To rub the salt in the wound he immediately connected it to the JNU situation today and asked: how many people in this campus support separatism in Kashmir? Did they have a debate and came to such a conclusion? According to him Kanhaiya won with only about a thousand votes in a campus with 8000+ students; his support to the Kashmiri separatism does not make it a democratic decision of the campus.

Carrying his line further he asked the JNU people to critically reflect whether JNU is really a democratic space? Could it be that it is a left hegemonic space? “Where if you disagree you are silenced, boycotted or sometimes you are brainwashed”. His plea was to not reduce politics to sloganeering and for not being self-complacent but to interrogate one’s own position.

I have summarized some of the important points he made in order to understand the audience reaction in the question-answer part of the lecture. But before we go to that lets ask two questions which Professor Paranjape does not ask of JNU people. One, both fascism and the Stalinist and Maoist communism have been antidemocratic, killed lakhs of people and silenced dissent; then why is it a virtue to toe the line of Stalinist communism and a sin to follow fascism? This is not a defense of fascism; it is a question to be asked of the admirers of Stalin and Mao. And two, when not recognizing the legitimacy of an elected government and advocating over-throw of it has no legitimacy itself; why the BJP and its supporters’ attempt to silence dissent is any more illegitimate than the Maoists attempts? These questions were not asked by Professor Pranjape. However, it would be interesting to know how JNU lobby answers them. Now let us come to the JNU students and teachers response to his lecture.

JNU students’ response

I am writing this whole piece for this section. It seems to me that the response Professor Paranjape got reveals the mind-set of the vocal section of JNU. There were at least 250+ (could be more, difficult to estimate from a video) students and teachers in the gathering. This is the lecture series that started in countering the narrow Sanghi version of nationalism. Therefore, I am assuming that it was a representative section of the JNU-left lobby; though hopefully not a representative section of the whole of JNU.

The JNUSU president Kanhaiya was chairing the lecture. The first thing which one noticed in the QA session was the sarcasm and making fun of the lecture. Kanhaiya being sarcastic and making fun may not be such a problem; but the applause he received from the audience for this attempt to dismiss the points made in the lecture reveals the way JNU students present there think. Actually they immediately proved the point Professor Paranjape was making. That they are not ready to listen, not ready to question their own stand, not ready to answer the questions raised on their position seriously. Their minds are made-up. There is no room for further thinking.

The second thing that one notices is that only one of the comments or questions actually engage with the issues raised in the lecture. Rest gave no argument, questioned no argument; instead they attacked the speaker! The worst kind of ad hominem one can get.

Since Kanhaiya was the chair and he asked the first set of questions, and his response was also the most glaring example of this ad hominem let me quote lengthy excerpts from him, please read it carefully.

“… sir, bahut bahut shukriya aapka, aap bahut aadarniiya hain aapka aadar karte hain (laughter and clapping from the audience, L&C inshort) mere gaon men ek kahawat hai aapko sunana chahate hain (louder L&C) ‘jhompadi ke charcha men mahal ke naraa, Gandhi ji ke bhajan kare Gandhi ke hattyara’ (very lound L&C and oooooooo…..)… aisa nahin hai sir, ki aap bol ke chale jaayenge jawaab to dena padega (loud L&C and Ooooo) … pahala sawaal main hii poochh letaa hun, sawal yah hai sir, ki aapane ahinsa ki baat kii hai, Gandhi ki hattya kii gaii, aur Gandhi ji ne kabhi is baat ko nahiin kaha ki main Hindu nahin hun, to aap manate hain ki Hindustan Bharat men azaad Bharat men, maaf kii jiyega, ek Hindu ne ek Hindu ki pahalii hattya kii, first assassination hua hai aur aap ahinsaa ki baat karte hain to aap usko condemn karenge? (an attempt from Paranjape to answer, stoping him) aur sawaal hai sir, doosara sawaal hai sir, ki democracy kii baat kii jaa rahii hai, Patiala House Court men coat pahan kar, kanoon ki dhajjiyan udaate hue, hamla kiyaa gayaa kya aap uskii ninda karenge? (loud clapping) teesara sawaal hai sir, ki kahate han ‘khoon se tilak karnge goliyon se aaratii’, kya yeh hnsaa hain ki ahinsaa hai? (loud L&C ans OOOooo..) chautha sawaal hai sir, ki (kahate hain) ‘Afzal ko dii azadi, maqbool ko dii azadi, Umar ko denge Afzal walii azadi’, isko karenge condemn sir? Aur swaal hai sir, sawaal hai sar, swaal yah hai kii kanoon kii, azadi kii tamaam tarah kii baat kii gaii, communist party to dhokhebaaj bataaya gaya, maan lete hain, dhokhebaaj hai communist party, lekin kya aap ye manenge ki merii party to hai, aur main apane aap ko dhokhebaaj kahalane ke liye bhii taiyar hun, aap kii kaunsi party hai? Yeh bhii aap ko batana padega. Yeh chautha swaaal kai, insawaalon ka jawaab jaisa main ek-ek line men diya hai, aagrah yahii hai ki epko jawaab bhi ek-ek line men hii dena padega. (loud L&C and ayeeeeee OOoooo).”

[A rough translation of Kanhaiya’s questions: “ … Sir, thank you very much. You are very respectable, we respect you. (laughter and clapping from the audience, L&C inshort) There is a saying in my village, I want you to listen to that. (louder L&C) ‘jhompadi ke charcha men mahal ke naraa, Gandhi ji ke bhajan kare Gandhi ke hattyara’ ‘In a conversation about a hut, slogan is raised of a place; Gandhi’s murderers sing praise of Gandhi.’(very lound L&C and oooooooo…..)… It is not sir, that you will speak and go, you have to anwer. (loud L&C and Ooooo) … let me ask the first question, Sir, you have talked about non-violence. Gandhi was musrdered. Gandhi ji never said that he was not a Hindu, so you have to accept that to the first assassination in the free India was that of a Hindu, by a Hindu, this was the first assassination and you talk about nonviolence, so would you condemn this murder? (an attempt from Paranjape to answer, stoping him) second question sir, is that you are talking of democracy. In Patiala house court people donning (lawyers’) black coat broke the law; would you condemn that? (loud clapping) The third question Sir, (BJP supporters) say that ‘we will make tilak with blood, and aaratii by bullets’ ‘khoon se tilak karnge goliyon se aaratii’, Is it nonviolence? (loud L&C ans OOOooo..) Fourth question, sir, (BJP supporters say) ‘we have given freedom to Afzan, and Maqbool; will give the same freedom to Umar’, would you condemn this? And the next question is, sir, (you have talked) a lot of the law and of freedom, and all that, (you have called) the communist party dishonest, let us suppose that communist party if dishonest, but would you accept that I at least have a party, and I am ready even to be called dishonest, but what party do you belong to? You will have to tell us this also. (loud L&C and ayeeeeee OOoooo).”]

This is not important how Professor Paranjape answered these questions. Though we will look at his answers as well. What is important is: 1. How these questions were asked? 2. What was in Professor Paranjape’s lecture which invited these questions? And 3. Whatever be his answers, how does that help in engaging with the serious issues he raised about left politics and JNU lobby?

He did not defend BJP in his lecture, he simply questioned the stance taken by the left. He did not call communist party “dhokhebaaj” (dishonest), he only cited example from their past which show their ambivalent attitude to independence at certain crucial times, their calling the freedom “jhoothi azadi” (false freedom), their expressed difficulty in accepting the legitimacy of Indian state and elected governments. Kanhaiya’s questions have nothing to do with Professor Paranjape’s points, they all were directed at his personal views and political alignments; and were designed to create a kind of disrespect and distrust in him, through polemics. Supposing he gives the worst possible answers to these questions: 1. Does not condemn Gandhi’s killing, 2. Does not condemn Patiala hiuse attack, 3. Supports “khoon se tilak karenge, goliaon se aarati” kind of stupid slogans from BJP supporters, 4. Does not condemn slogans raised to give Umar “Afzal wali azadi”, and finally, 5. Says that his party is BJP. (These are not his answers, it is just supposition for the sake of argument.)

What would it prove? Does it make the sting of his questions regarding ‘syllogistic legitimacy’ of wanting to overthrow an elected government less painful? Does it take anything away from his charge of left hegemony? Actually these questions and the style in which they are asked proves what he says. This looks like a response from a closed and indoctrinated mind or worst. (Though Kanhaiya’s speeches have more substance than that.)

More worrying is the complete failure of JNU students (250+ of them) to notice irrelevance and polemical nature of these questions, and hearty appreciation of them. This again shows that they either did not understand the lecture, or they are not ready to reflect on their own positions. Not only that, they are not even ready to counter his arguments through challenging his facts or arguments; they simply dismiss his arguments through attacking the person rather than the arguments. If this is the state of affairs in our best university then do our universities really teach clear thinking? If this is the level of thinking our research scholars have, we are in danger as a nation and as a culture.

Of course Professor Paranjape condemned all the condemnable acts and slogans to which Kanhaiya referred to and said that he belongs to no party.

Then a retired teacher of JNU came and said that you have mentioned how many people Stalin killed, “aap jara Hitler and Mussolini ki bhii baat kardete” (You should also have talked about Hitler and Mussolini) how many people they killed. This is a strange challenge in the guise of a request. It presumes that Professor Paranjape was defending Hitler and Mussolini, or he swears by their ideology. Which cannot be derived from his lecture at all. But some of the left factions in India actually admire as well as swear by Stalin’s ideology. And prefer Stalin’s and Mao’s governments to the Indian democracy. Therefore, one can legitimately ask them questions regarding Stalin and Mao.

Then a Chinese student claims that they can have protests in their country and tells how controlling the people by a party can bring economic progress, to the laud cheers from the democracy and freedom of speech loving JNU students! One simply does not know what to make of it.

Then a Salafi Muslim comes and asks two questions, after some bold claims. Verbatim: “sir ne jo bla kafi der se, ek cheej bata ke main sawaal karoonga, main khud communist nahin hun, aur Salafi Musalman hun. Jisko aaj kal kaha jaa raha hai ki bahut khatarnak hote han ye, log jaanate bhi hain. Aur men darta-varta nahin hun kisii se jis din sab log 9 tariikh ko bahar gaye the to main safaa bandh kar gaya tha ki mujhe kisii ne maraa to main jawaab men (with a lot of emphasis) maroongaa, main chup nahin rahuunga. Aap ne abhi kaha ki communism khatam ho gaya hai ya kamjor ho gaya hai, capitalism ka mukabala kaun karega? H sakata hai aap logon ne dhyaan na diya ho sir ne yah baat kahii thii. Ek cheej main, sir se sawaal poochh aha hun, dhyaan diijiyega sir, kya aapko aisa nahiin lagata hi Islam abhi maidan men khadaa hai, capitalism ka mukabala kar raha hai. Aur doosara sawaal, communism aur Islam men hosakata hai aane waale waqt men compatibility baith jaaye, ek saath dono ho jaayen? Jawaab please.”

[A rough translation: ““Sir, has been speaking for long. I will first tell one thing and then ask my question. I am not a communist, I am a Salafi Muslim. Who (Salafi Muslims) are called very dangerous these days, people know. And I am not scared of any one. On the 9th February when all went out, I went with wearing a headgear, (thinking) that if any one hits me, I will (with a lot of emphasis) hit back, I will not keep quet. You said that communism is finished or has become weak, who (what ideology) will stop capitalism?  Don’t you think that Islam is still in the battle field, and fighting capitalism? And second question, may in the future communism and Islam become compatible?  May be they will join forces? Your answer please.”]

 

Another person: “Sir, I would want to comment on your lecture. All through you talked about non-violence and Indian democracy, whatever, that might be true to a certain extent. And you also talked about bali, where the yagna last performance of Gadhi’s might have looked upon as bali, why do you think that somebody has to sacrifice themselves because this is very Brahamanical culture, which Buddha was against, so if you could comment on this.” This was in response to Professor Paranjape’s reference to Gandhi’s fast to stop communal riots in Delhi which Gandhi called ‘yagna’ and since it took his life, therefore, looking at it as the ‘aahuti of life’ in the yagna. You see, yagna, aahitii, etc. are Brahamanical concepts even if one uses them figuratively; and Buddha was against Brahamanism, so …?

In the whole lecture there was only one person who actually commented and countered some of the issues raised by Professor Paranjape. One may agree or disagree with her, but she at the least engaged with the lecture. Rest either talked irrelevant things or attacked the speaker.

This session raises questions in one’s mind: is there a strong culture of indoctrination in JNU? Is it possible that what they call critical thinking is actually a certain fixed kind of criticality, and therefore, indoctrination in the guise of being critical of Indian state and democracy? And a certain kind of thoughtless acceptance (bordering on reverence) of some ideological positions?

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The point and the counter point: JNU slogans

February 21, 2016

This time I am uploading a pdf file. It consists of Mr. Bharat Suri’s response to my articles “Spreading confusion through JNU issue”. Uploading pdf file to save time and trouble of writing a separate article. If problems in downloading please inform.

Responses to spreading confusion_2


एक तीसरी आवाज की अनसुनी

February 20, 2016

रोहित धनकर

रवीश कुमार का NDTV पर प्राइम टाइम (शायद १९ फरवरी का) बहुत ही सटीक और इस वक्त की चीख-चिल्लाहट में बेहद आवश्यक था. हमें और बहुत से ऐसे कार्यक्रम चाहियें. रवीश कुमार को इस के लिए धन्यवाद और जितनी हो सके उतनी प्रशस्ती मिलनी चाहिए. इस वक्त के अँधेरे और बेसमझी धारणाओं की लड़ाई को खूनी बनाने की कोशिश का पर्दा फास करने के ऐसे और प्रयाश और होने चाहियें. उन्हों ने बहुत सटीक सवाल उठाये हैं. अन्करों के काम को लेकर, भावनाओं का ज्वार पैदा करने को लेकर और तथ्यों की जाच को लेकर. यह एपिसोड सब को देखना चाहिए और इसपर सोचना चाहिए.

यह कार्यक्रम के इतना अच्छा होने के बावजूद मेरे मन में कुछ सवाल उठाता है. आशा है रवीश कुमार के चाहने वाले (जिन में मैं भी शामिल हूँ) इन सवालों को गलत नहीं समझेंगे. असहमती उनकी हो सकती है और वह जायज भी हो सकती है. मैं गलत हो सकता हूँ; पर जो सवाल हैं उनको रखना भी जरूरी है.

सब से पहले पूरे कार्यक्रम पर एक सवाल जो मुझे महत्त्वपूर्ण लग रहा है वह यह है कि अँधेरे की इन आवाजों को सुनाने की शुरुआत क्या इस नारों की आवाज से नहीं होनी चाहए थी, क्यों की यह बवाल तो यही से उठा?

  • कश्मीर की आजादी तक जंग रहेगी.
  • भारत की बर्बादी पर जंग रहेगी.
  • भारत तेरे टुकड़े होंगे, इंशा अल्लाह.

सवाल यह नहीं है कि यह नारे किसने लगाए, पर लगाए तो. क्या यह आवाज भी इस शांत चिंतन का हिस्सा होनी चाहिए जिसके लिए रवीश कुमार इतनी सिद्दत से और इतनी जायज अपील कर रहे हैं?

रवीश कुमार अपनी भूमिका या टिप्पणियों में कुछ बातें कहते हैं जिनकी तरफ ध्यान देना और उनके निहितार्थ समझना जरूरी है. उन में से कुछ बातें ये हैं (यह शब्दसह नहीं है, पर अर्थ वही है):

  • कश्मीर में ये नारे (मेरी समझ में उपरोक्त) रोज लगाए जारहे हैं, वहां सरकार ने कितनों को गिरफ्तार किया?
  • वहां पकिस्तान के झंडे रोज फहराए जारहे हैं.
  • कश्मीर की समस्या इस्लाम की समस्या नहीं है.
  • अफज़ल गुरु दिल्ली में आतंकवादी है तो श्रीनगर में क्या है?

अच्छा होता रवीश कुमार इस पर कुछ और साफ़ बोलते. अब हमारे पास इस नतीजे पर पहुँचाने के आलावा क्या रास्ता है कि यह सब कहकर वे यह बताना चाहते हैं कि:

  • जो नारे कश्मीर में लगाए जा रहे हैं इनको JNU में लगाने की भी छूट होनी चाहिए, या कमसे कम उन्हें नरमी से जरूर देखाजाना चाहिए.
  • यदि पकिस्तान का झंडा कश्मीर में फहराया जाता है तो इसे दिल्ली में भी नरमी से देखाजाना चाहिए.

इन दो स्थापनाओं पर बहुत गंभीरता से विचार होना चाहिए. सवाल यह बिलकुल नहीं है कि जो सरकार कर रही है वह जायज है, जो कुछ एंकर कर रहे हैं वह जायज है, जो पटियाला हाउस में वकीलों ने किया वह जाजाज़ हैं. ये सब गलत है. हमें इसे तुरंत रोकना चाहिए. पर इस स्थापनाओं के माध्यम से हम ऐसे नारों को यदी जायज नहीं बता रहे तो नरमी से लेने लायक जरूर बता रहे हैं. सहन करने काबिल जरूर बता रहे हैं. नारे लगाने वालों को अपने समूहों में शामिल करने की वकालत अवश्य कर रहे हैं. क्या इस से ऐसे नारे लगाने वालों की संख्या बढ़ेगी? क्या इस से जो अभी ये नारे लगा रहे हैं उनका मनोबल बढेगा? क्या ये दोनों चीजें इन नारों के पीछे की मनसा को पूरा करने में मददगार शाबित होंगी?

यह अभिव्यक्ती की आजादी का तर्क है जिस पर मैंने अपने पिछले ब्लॉग पोस्ट में लिखा है और जिसका कुछ मित्रों ने विरोध किया है. उनका यह कहना है की सरकार और ABVP के जायज और तीव्र विरोध में ऐसा माहोल बनाने का कोई तत्त्व नहीं है जो ऐसे नारों को नरमी से लेने की वकालत करता हो. मुझे रवीश जी के इस प्रोग्राम से लगता है ऐसा तत्त्व है, और यह कार्यक्रम इस का एक उदाहरण है.

यह सही है कि कश्मीर की समस्या की शुरुआत में इस्लाम का तत्त्व बहुत कम था. मेरा मानना है कि कुछ हद तक पकिस्तान के कबायलियों के वेश में आक्रमण करने के दिन से कश्मीर की समस्या में इस्लाम का तत्त्व था; क्यों कि पकिस्तान ने यह इस्लाम के नाम पर किया था. फिर भी कश्मीर की जनता भारत के साथ थी और केवल स्वायत्त निर्णय चाहती थी, जो उनका जायज हक़ था. और यह मूलतः राजनैतिक समस्या ही थी. पर आज यह उतनी ही इस्लाम की समस्या है जितनी राजनीती की. बल्की अब यह इस्लाम-प्रेरित राजनीती की समस्या है. नहीं तो पकिस्तान के झंडों का, ISIS के झंडों का, नारों की शुरुआत नराए-तदबीर (?) (अल्लाह हो अकबर) से करने का कोई स्पस्टीकरण नहीं है.

अब सवाल यह है कि वे भारतीय जो सरकार की आवाज दबाने की कोशिशों को गलत मानते हैं, ABVP और BJP के समर्थकों के हुड़दंग को गलत और राष्ट्र के लिए नुकशानदेह मानते हैं; पर उनके मन में नारों को लेकर उपरोक्त चिंताएं भी हैं; वे क्या रुख लें?

क्या उनकी आवाज ऎसी आवाज नहीं है जो सरकारी खेमे के विरुद्ध है, पर जिसे सरकार का विरोध करने वाले भी नहीं सुनना चाहते? क्या इस चिंता को अनसुना करना और इसे अभिव्यक्त करने वालों को सरकारी-खेमे की वर्त्तमान गतिविधियों का समर्थक मान लेना जायज है? क्या रवीश जी के TV के अँधेरे में इस आवाज को भी सुनना चाहिए था? मुझे लगता है इस आवाज को नहीं सुनकर सही रस्ते पर मजबूती से चल रहे बुद्धी-जीवी और रवीश जी जैसे एंकर सरकारी-खेमे को आम जानते के सामने एक नाजायज तर्क करने का मौक़ा दे रहे हैं. यदी उनकी इस चिंता की आवाज से असहमती है तो उनको बहुत सफलता नहीं मिलेगी. और यह बहुत दुर्भाग्यपूर्ण होगा.

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Spreading confusion through JNU issue

February 19, 2016

Rohit Dhankar

Due to inaptitude and dogmatism of the government supposed to be thinking people of India—the intellectuals—have been very successful in obfuscation, spreading confusion, on certain vital issues; deliberate or otherwise. The government acted ham-handedly under the influence of its own narrow, biased, dogmatic and sectarian definition of the nation and nationalism; and perhaps also with intentions of discrediting JNU to be able to better control it. The spontaneous or manufactured attack by Patiala House Court lawyers made the matters worst and gave a potent issue to the group of people who wanted to divert public gaze away from the 9th February events in JNU. Certainly there is a possibility that the JNU teachers may be feeling that attack on autonomy of JNU, curbing dissent through arrest of Kanhaiya and dubbing JNU as anti-national are much more important threats to the democracy and the nation than shouting of a few anti-India slogans by a group of students. Therefore, they are going full steam in attacking the government on these issues nationally and internationally.

It seems to me that hallmark of an intellectual is to see the whole picture, remain unbiased, and the ability to see consequences of ideas and action, beyond one’s immediate concerns. Their resistance to the excessive use of force by the government, not allowing JNU internal processes to take their own course, maddening media campaign by some channels to dub entire university anti-national and condemnation of the Patiala house hooligans is entirely justified. And in that they are actually rendering a service to the democracy in the country and to the nation; because this nation exists only because of democracy and democratic values.

And yet, they are guilty of spreading confusion—though may not be entirely deliberate—that may come back to haunt us in future in very menacing ways. By their actions, writings and behaviour they are making light of the slogan-shouting incident and making it almost acceptable in young people’s minds as an exercise of freedom of speech. And, thereby, making the country a softer target. This needs a closer examination.

At present the entire debate is focussed on the sedition charges. I must make it clear there that I am not discussing whether Kanhaiya Kumar attracts charges of sedition or not. As far as I can understand, so far there is no evidence in public domain that established that he shouted anti-India slogans. Some TV channels are making a spacious argument that since Umar Khalid is standing next to Kanhaiya when the latter is shouting “azadi” slogans, where azadi is demanded from samant-vad, sangh-vad etc.; therefore, he should be deemed to be shouting azadi for Kashmir. This is completely illogical and unacceptable; actually deliberately malicious.

The issue I am discussing here is whether slogans like “Bharat ki barbadi tak jang rahegi” fall under sedition or not. The Article 124-A is about “the Government established by law in India”. It states: “Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law in India, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.” Then it adds clarifications to the effect that disapprobation of the measures of the government with intention to bring about their alteration or disapprobation of administrative acts of the government without exiting hatred and through lawful means does not constitute an offence under this act.

The act read in itself certainly covers the slogan that were shouted, and deems them offence punishable under this law; as those slogans did excite hatred, contempt and disaffection towards the “the government established by law in India”. However, through reading recent articles by constitutional experts it seems that the Supreme Court has interpreted it more liberally. Fali Nariman in The Indian Express (17th February) states: “sedition in India is not unconstitutional, it remains an offence only if the words, spoken or written, are accompanied by disorder and violence and/ or incitement to disorder and violence.”

I personally fail to understand why declaration of “Bharat ki barbaadi tak, jang rahegi” is not “incitement to disorder and violence”? It seems to me that “sedition” as defined here, even by Nariman, remains a punishable offence by his own words.  If one raises a technical point that “sedition” in its dictionary meaning is not punishable, I can call it only obfuscation, as law defines terms for specific purposes. If one argues that the term “sedition” is not used in Article 124A, then it means nothing; call it what you like, it is not a quibble about naming. But I am not a legal expert, therefore, will wait to be enlightened through further reading etc. and suspend my judgment on this issue till then.

The point I want to raise is much more important for our future as a nation. The three slogans (Kashmir ki azadi tak, Bharat ki bardadi tak jang rahegi; and “Bharat tere tukade honge, insha Allah, insha Allah) are not, repeat not against the government alone. They are against the idea of and fact of India, Bharat. They express hatred, contempt, disaffection, abetment and intent to destroy India. The governments come and go, we may oppose and resist governments, may dislike them, may want to change them and actually do change them every five years. India remains, India gives us the space in which we create lawful governments. And these slogans are against that idea of governing ourselves democratically. Reducing this issue to technicality of disaffection with the government is obfuscation, creating confusion. It is a failure to make a distinction between the government of the time and the nation.

So what is this Bharat/India they want to destroy? It is people living in a certain demarcate geographical region who have decided to live together and govern themselves through a self-created constitution. And that includes the landmass and its territorial integrity. Because without the territorial integrity the values enshrined in the constitution cannot be realised, can be practices. It includes a multiple cultural traditions which interact with each other and constantly modify and recreate themselves. In this interaction they cooperate with each other, oppose and fight with each other, confront each other, change each other and are changed by each other. This India is aspirations of people who possess multiple identities and varied imagination of the nation and life in it. This involves confrontation of aspirations, groupings for struggle for power and control, struggle against oppression and injustice and compromises. It involves a shifting cauldron of love-hate relationships. It involves a huge turmoil and constant search for harmony and justice for all. And all this goes on within a framework of values we call constitution; and kept within limits by various structures, including the government.

These slogans express a contempt for this arrangement, these people, this structure of values, this way of life, this territorial entity; these slogans want to destroy it all. And under various kinds of spacious arguments young people are being made to believe that it is alright to want to destroy this idea, these people this entity; and it is alright to express this intention openly within this entity, and living within these people.

In this festival of spreading confusion one hears pronouncements like “Gandhi and Tilak were charged for sedition, it is a law that wants to punish all those who want freedom”. They do not know, or are incapable of understanding, the difference between a foreign power occupying a country and a country being governed by a constitution given to itself by its own people; between a colonised people and sovereign people. Their analytical capabilities are being destroyed by these fallacious argument based on half-understood facts.

There are supposed to be critical torch bear of equality who counter the charge of making heroes out terrorists by pronouncing that Bhagat Sigh and Khudiram Bose were also called terrorist. Thereby, proving to themselves that since we call Bhagat Singh and Khudiram Bose revolutionary freedom fighters Maqbool Bhat and Afzal Guru were also ‘freedom fighters’. They forget, or do not have enough understanding of, the difference between democratic country where alternative and peaceful means of seeking justice are available, where you can participate in government formation; and a colonised country whose government is formed by those outsiders who are not governed by it. More importantly, they forget that Indian revolutionaries rarely targeted innocent public, even innocent Britishers. They attacked government officials who were directly responsible for atrocities, of course in revolutionaries’ minds. But terror through rampant innocent killing and ‘terror’ through targeting particular perceived wrong doer are different.

Arguments are being made out to say that anti-India slogans like the ones cited above and armed struggle against a perceived unjust state are legitimate rights of the people who are oppressed.

No one can deny that the Indian democracy so far has not been just to all its citizens. There are tribles, Dalits, Nagas, Bodos, and Kashmiri people who have been wronged, even oppressed, under this regime after regime and even by the Indian state. This oppression has driven some of them to take up arms, often abated by outsiders. Having sympathy with oppressed groups and standing with them in their struggle is duty of a democratic citizen. But condoning, eulogizing, abetting and supporting armed struggle takes you to a different level.

A democratic system does have redressal systems. Theoretically it is easy to prove that unless run by angels a democracy will involve discrimination and injustice through the self-seeking of those who are in power. Practically it can be seen happening on the ground. And yet, declaration of armed struggle against it on one hand, and making the state sensitive and more just through lawful and democratic means on the other are not the same. Everyone has recourse to peaceful democratic means. And let me admit that it is possible that oppression, atrocities and injustice to a section of people may reach a level when those people come to the conclusion that the armed struggle is the only means left. (I am not going here into the many strategic used that an armed struggle can serve for those who declare it.) That is a shameful situation for a democracy, the whole nation is culprit in such a situation. And that is an unfathomable misfortune for those people. If a democracy does not take care of such situations and does not restore a just system and, thereby, the confidence of the disaffected people; it will get destroyed. In such situations there might be sympathisers of the oppressed people who want to support such armed struggles.

But they all, the oppressed as well as their supporters, should know that declaration of armed struggle is breakdown of the constitutional system and declaration of was on the nation. It is a declaration that we no more accept the constitution, that it has failed, that we are not bound by it. Once you do that, talk of ‘constitutional right for armed struggle’ is imbecile talk. Therefore, support of armed struggle and remaining within the constitutional limits is contradictory. Those who want to support armed struggle should know that they are declaring the constitution useless, they have no constitutional right to support armed struggle to break the country. And they should know that there are people who still have confidence in the democracy and the constitutions; therefore, the state has the duty to protect these citizens. Conclusion that a democracy will fight back tooth and nail does not require much brains. Declaration of war will get what it wants: a war. This situation is no good either for the people who declare armed struggle or their supports or rest of the nation. It is a bad situation, morally indefensible; and ultimately a compromise. But unfortunately humanity at this moment has no better solution. This is not a good solution; but in the current development of humanity it is the best solution. We have to live with it till we find a better one; and have to keep searching for that. We have to find a way of being sensitive to atrocities by various sections and people on other sections and people of the country; we have to fight these injustices and have to do it in a manner that the idea of India becomes stronger and not weakened.

The current debates are actually spreading these, and more, confusions; through their general tenor and kind of arguments they are building. This is an insidious way of harming the nation—as defined above, a constitutional nation—and democracy. It is preparing ground for various insurgencies, preparing an environment of false intellectualism where those who want to harm India can be respected and protected under the garb of radical ideas and seeking justice. This will haunt us, will come back to us. Confusing young students on these issues through spacious theories is dangerous and will ultimately harm all of us. Most probably this is not deliberate. But a critical citizen is called upon to be aware and responsible for unintended outcomes of his/her actions as well.

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Common Indian: between the devil and the deep sea

February 16, 2016

Rohit Dhankar

ABVP, BJP and the Government

The BJP including the government and its wings have only one thing to say to its detractors: anti-nationals. They think that once they utter this pious word from their lips the argument is complete. Period. The soul of the nation for them, of course, is in Nagpur. And it’s truest embodiment is the Sangh.

Even the young ABVP activists who should have a fertile imagination and convictions of a young idealist are totally parrot like, trite, unimaginative and unconvincing; under this stifling notion of the Indian nation. When they want to be forceful all they can do is abuse. Calling people dogs seem to be their most forceful slogans.

The government in arresting Kanhaiya has proved itself to be totally inapt. The Home Minister seems to be losing his depth. It is not totally unbelievable that all this hyper activity might be partly motivated by future elections in JNU. (Do I understand correctly that JNU election are coming in March? I am not sure here.)

Their zeal for demanding worship of their imagination of the nation is fanatical. And their imagination of that nation seems to be empty but for Bharat-Mata. If one takes cue from their imagination of history and ancient India then it seems to be coming right out of Raja Ravi Varma’s calendar paintings and second hand heard puranic stories.

Indian police was never known for its braininess, but by arresting Kanhaiya they seem to have bracken their own record, unless they really have something up their sleeves; which does not seem to be very probable.

This is the devil.

The JNU function

It is hard to deny that there was objectionable sloganeering in JNU. Whether shouting such slogans attracts sedition charges or not is a legal matter, and I do not know much of that. The slogans I consider objectionable can be categorized in two classes.

One, objectionable:

  • कश्मीर कि जनता संघर्ष करो, हम तुम्हारे साथ है.
  • अफज़ल कि हत्या नहीं सहेंगे, नहीं सहेंगे.
  • कितने अफज़ल मरोगे, हर घर से अफज़ल निकलेगा.
  • कितने मकबूल मरोगे, हर घर से मकबूल निकलेगा.

I call them objectionable because they if logically analyzed will lead to disrespect for the constitution (it also encompasses the territorial integrity of India), UN processes (withdrawal of Pakistani troops was a precondition of plebiscite), Indian parliament (it passed a resolution that Kashmir is integral part and it was attacked) and The Supreme Court (it awarded death sentence to Afzal and Makbool Bhat).

I do not consider them ‘seriously objectionable’ because there are Indian citizens who have counter views on the secessionist movement in Kashmir and question the fairness of trial or availability of defense to Afzal. Since many India citizens have these views the students may be considered under their influence and ignorant of the history of Kashmir problem. Youthful idealism even if coming out of ignorance and misguided sense of justice should be considered a subject of dialogue. Idealism is too precious to stifle even if it happens to be somewhat misguided.

Two, seriously objectionable slogans:

  • कश्मीर की आज़ादी तक, जंग रेगी, जंग रहेगी
  • भारत की बर्बादी तक, जंग रहेगी, जंग रहेगी.
  • भारत तेरे टुकड़े होंगे, टुकड़े होंगे.

This seems to be seriously objectionable to me because it directly calls for violence and breaking up India. Ignorance, stupidity and misguided idealism cannot become factors in condoning these kids of slogans. But they need to be dealt with dialogue and social/moral disapproval. Such people do not deserve respect as fellow Indian citizens, and need to be watched. They can be on the verge of becoming a threat to the nation. Their number does not matter, terrorism can function with small numbers.

But people who are shouting these slogans are not recognizable in the videos so far circulating. Still it was happening in our supposed to be the best university in presence of hundreds of students. No one was seen trying to stop them. That is serious, and disheartening.

Who were these people who were shouting these slogans? Kanhaiya could have been in the best position to find that out because of his reach to students; and it is not possible that no students knew them. The police has arrested Kanhaiya who is not seen shouting slogans and there is nothing to show his complicity in this; apart from one single fact that he supported the function even after the administration withdrew permission. But that does not prove that he knew what will happen. The poster itself is objectionable enough but that comes in category one above. Therefore, in this unjustified arrest the police has lost its best chance to identify the people shouting these seriously objectionable slogans.

JNU protest

The students’ and teachers’ protest against Kanhaiya’s arrest is completely justified. The torrent of articles appearing in the press condemning the arrest, the ham-handedness and inaptness of the government is pointing to the right concerns.

But there is also something worrying about this. The focus is completely on attacking the government and BJP and everyone has forgotten the seriously objectionable nature of the last three slogans after a momentary lip-service to condemn them. It seems almost deliberate to distract the people’s attention from the seriousness of the slogans to that of the omissions and commissions of the government. In the zeal for bashing up the government a serious problem is being ignored. Not even that, but is portrayed as too minor an issue to pay attention to.

This attitude will encourage and protect the people who shouted those objectionable slogans. It will communicate to other students that people who shout such slogans are fine, can be part of the student community and enjoy it’s protection.

This is the deep sea, if the BJP agenda is the devil. Mature, serious and responsible democratic academics and intellectuals of a country are so busy fighting their current political battle (right kind of battle) that they are oblivious or are willfully ignoring the dangers their single mindedness may bring about in the long run.

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