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JNU students plan a ‘poster drive’ to protest restrictions

JNU officials have launched a campaign removing all posters pasted on the walls of the campus buildings.

delhi Updated: Jul 22, 2019 07:17 IST
Fareeha Iftikhar
Fareeha Iftikhar
New Delhi
Students said the administration has already removed posters and banners from the walls around the two buildings — School of Social Sciences and the School of International Studies.
Students said the administration has already removed posters and banners from the walls around the two buildings — School of Social Sciences and the School of International Studies.(HT Photo )
         

Posters and wall graffiti, one of the most distinct features of the JNU campus, are all set to become the centre of a new flashpoint between the Jawaharlal Nehru University administration and students.

The university officials have launched a campaign removing all posters pasted on the walls of the campus buildings, citing an executive council’s decision last year under the Delhi defacement of property Act, 2007. But the student leaders have protested the move calling it an attack on the JNU soul. In protest, the JNU students union has called for a poster pasting drive on the campus on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Students said the administration has already removed posters and banners from the walls around the two buildings of School of Social Sciences (SSS) and the School of International Studies. The administration has directed the students to put up posters or banners only on the designated boards.

The walls within the 1019-acre JNU campus are full of paintings and posters of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Nelson Mandela and BR Ambedkar. There are posters of spiritual gurus too. Former students’ union general secretary Satarupa Chakroborty said the university will “lose its spirit”.

“In JNU, we learnt theories in classroom much later. The real learning began when we entered the university and observed its walls. We read and debate all these topics. That’s how generations of students have grown up in this university, emerged as students, leaders, scholars, academicians and bureaucrats. But from now on the freshers wouldn’t get the opportunity of that remarkable learning experience,” she said.

Shakeel Ahmed Khan, Congress MLA from Bihar and former JNUSU president (1992-93) said the university students had also released a “wall magazine” in 1993 and 1994. “It is JNU’s legacy. The students would express their views and ideas through these wall posters. They debate, discuss and dissent on the topics of these wall posters. It’s just a way to bring different ideas and views on one platform. The University will not be the same if there will be no posters on its walls,” he said.

The posters and banners in JNU were found on the buildings of its centres and schools, dhabhas and bus stops and the hostels. They do not only carry the messages of the different political students’ groups but also the day to day demands of students and current affairs of the world. They also depict the major freedom movements across the globe.

PK Joshi, director, Swachh JNU, Saturday issued a warning against JNUSU’s mass poster making drive. Swachh JNU is a cleanliness programme launched by the university last year in line with the Centre’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

“It has come to the notice of the university administration that some students are planning to hold march across campus and stick posters on the walls of buildings. Attention of university’s campus residents is invited to circulars dated 10.06.2019 and 01.07.2019 issued by the Director Swachh JNU wherein all concerned had been called to strictly abide by the provision of Delhi Defacement of Property Act, 2007 and JNU executive council decision taken in its meeting dated 13.03.2018. Therefore, any person found violating above instructions shall render themselves liable for action/penalty in terms of the Act and university rules,” Joshi said in the circular.

JNUSU president N Sai Balaji said that the union will hold the drive despite administration’s warning. “JNU’s walls are our street libraries. We will reclaim these spaces through our drive,” he said.

JNU registrar Pramod Kumar and Rector 1 Chintamani Mahapatra did not respond to calls and text messages for a comment.

First Published: Jul 22, 2019 02:41 IST

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