Jadavpur University (JU) students defended Kashmiri people’s ‘right to seek Azadi’ during a cultural event held on the campus on Tuesday, setting the stage for another confrontation with members of right-wing parties who have recently equated such views as anti-national.
Singer-turned-politician and former Trinamool Congress MP Kabir Suman performed at the event that was attended by more than 500 students and faculty members.
Recently a section of JU students put up alleged anti-national posters and chanted slogans in support of Afzal Guru and Yakub Menon, both of whom were hanged for their involvement in separate terror attacks.
The event was organised to protest the arrest of Jawahar Lal Nehru students Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya. Filmmaker Aniket Chattopadhyay and human rights activist Sujato Bhadra were among those who participated.
“India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had promised to hold plebiscite in Kashmir. That has not been fulfilled yet. The people are still being bombarded and killed. What else would they do other than seek ‘Azadi’ from the miserable lives they have been forced to live?”, said Sushil Mandi, a spokesperson of Leftwing student outfit Radical, which organised the programme.
He also defended certain JNU students who raised slogans demanding ‘azadi for Kashmir’ and eulogising Afzal Guru, the Parliament attack convict who was hanged.
“A lot of people in Kashmir consider Afzal Guru a martyr. Even the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) considers him a martyr. What’s wrong if JNU students, or any other person in this country, felt Afzal was a martyr?” Mandi asked.
Kabir Suman, a JU alumnus, performed a number of songs, including those that he composed protesting the killing of Australian missionary Graham Stuart Staines, encounter deaths of Ishrat Jahan and Fulmoni Tudu and the suicide of Rohith Vemula. One of his songs, “Afzal Guru shono, Srinagar-a hobe dekha,” roughly translates to “See you in Srinagar, Afzal.” Suman also said that he is sympathetic to the Maoists’ cause.