Jawaharlal University (JNU), India’s premier educational establishment boasts intellectual think tanks. The varsity, which has a strong left radical tilt since it was set up, is known for wearing social causes proudly on its sleeves. Dharnas, strikes and political rallies are commonplace in this institution, nestled in an arid jungle in the southern parts of Delhi.
But the free-thinking JNU liberals took the matter very far on Tuesday, when a group staged protests against ‘capital punishment’ and went off-track by shouting anti-India slogans and showing solidarity with terrorist Afzal Guru, the 2011 Parliament attack convict. Guru was hanged on February 9, 2013 for his role in the attack.
The controversial event is an amalgamation of chaos at its best. The event was organised by a group of students, some of who were ex-members of Democratic Students’ Union. JNU’s vice chancellor claims that the group tried to pass off the event as cultural, but no permission was granted. The group glorified Guru and separatist leader of Kashmir Maqbool Bhat, by calling them martyrs. They went on to say Kashmir will secede, and India will go to hell!
A look at the video grab of the event shows half-interested students encircling a small group of men and women who are passionately shouting anti-nationalist slogans, with placards in hands. Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of BJP, tried to stop the event, and ugly altercation broke off between the two groups.
As the event gained media attention, the home ministry declared taking tough action on anybody who was involved in anti-national activities in JNU. Taking a cue, the police registered a case of sedition and criminal conspiracy and on Friday, JNU Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested.
Reportedly, raids are on in JNU hostels and all those who participated in the event on spur of the moment, will now have to cool their heels in the police lock-ups. I am sure the group, which started off their campaign as a protest to capital punishment, will have enough time behind the bars to think how their educational career got sabotaged for taking their ‘freedom of speech’ way too far. Nobody goes far by spewing venom on their motherland.
However, what humoured me while watching the news on TV last night was that, an ABVP woman, who gave fervent bytes about the misuse of freedom of speech, mistook Guru for Yakub Memon, the man who went to the gallows last year over his involvement in the 1993 Bombay bombings. She was clueless about her goof up, and ranted on. I felt sorry for her; so much for her education, and her support to the ‘cause’.
While social media sites Facebook and Twitter went abuzz with opinions about bringing down JNU for nurturing anti-India students, the varsity distanced itself from the incident, fearing a major backlash. I wonder how the closing down of a university would help eliminating anti-national people. Bringing down an entire institute that has produced some of the best brains in the country is not the solution. Dissidents are everywhere, and the lawmakers are making sure they are brought to the task.