Amid a raging row over an event held at the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, the institute’s teachers have appealed to the public not to “brand” the university as “anti-national”.
The faculty members also claimed that the internal mechanism of the university seems to be completely “subverted” and autonomy of the institution stands “surrendered”.
“Isn’t it unfair to brand the university as anti-national which has stood as an epitome of academics and democratic culture. Why tarnish its image by calling it a home to anti-nationals?”
“We have taught here for years, we know what it is to be at JNU. We appeal to the public to look beyond the present controversy and not to associate the adjective anti-national with JNU,” said a social science professor, who did not wish to be identified.
A professor of the Linguistics department said the “university is doing an inquiry, police is probing the case, the Delhi Government has also ordered a magisterial inquiry. Why can’t we wait to see how the situation unfolds? Why brand the university as a ground for terrorists?”
The teachers have also come out in support of the students union president Kanhaiya Kumar, who is in police custody after being charged with sedition, saying even if the students have done anything wrong, it is an internal issue of “indiscipline” and not “sedition”.
Kumar was arrested earlier this week in connection with a case of sedition and criminal conspiracy registered over holding of the event at the event during which anti-India slogans were alleged to have been raised.
The event was held despite the JNU administration having withdrawn permission following a complaint by ABVP members, who had termed it “anti-national”.
“University is a place of debate and dissent. Ideas should compete with ideas, force and violence cannot be used to suppress ideas. Arbitrary arrests should stop and our internal mechanism should deal with situations,” said Ayesha Kidwai, another professor at the Centre for Linguistics.
The teachers have also called for a solidarity march on campus this evening demanding that Kanhaiya be released and the varsity be left on its own without any police patrolling.
“JNU is known for its democratic ethos. We do not want “JNU is known for its democratic ethos. We do not want this kind of tense atmosphere on the campus where students have to be scared as they might be called a terrorist. If some student insults the Constitution, the varsity will penalise him, but do not target students with serious charges like sedition without the varsity probing the matter,” said the teacher’s association of JNU.
The row at the university on Saturday turned into an ideological battle between the ruling BJP government and the Opposition, with Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi lending support to students protesting against Kanhaiya’s arrest even as the government declared that the varsity cannot be allowed to be a “hub of anti-national” activity.