JNU row: Afzal Guru event held under false pretext, says professor
The February 9 event in support of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru at Jawaharlal Nehru University was carried out under a false pretext, according to a professor at the university.
“It was done on a false pretext. People who wanted to hold that event said they would conduct a poetry reading and that there would be seven people. It was called ‘A Country Without a Post Office’. Instead it became a commemoration for Afzal Guru. So it was done on the false pretext,” Makarand Paranjape, a member of JNU Teachers’ Association, said on Friday.
He said this while participating in the Sahitya Akademi’s ongoing National Festival of Letters.
Paranjape was critical of the lack of action against the organisers on the part of the university over the use of such “subterfuge” and expressed surprise at the condemnation of the arrest of JNU Students’ Union President Kanhaiya Kumar.
“I am a member of JNUTA. No resolution was passed condemning that misuse, that subterfuge which was used but there was a condemnation of the arrest of a student? I am also very regretful that happened,” he said.
He was speaking at a session titled, “Freedom of Expression” organised by Sahitya Akademi as part of its annual national seminar.
He also questioned the absence of protests in JNU during the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from their homes and the recent lynching of a RSS pracharak in Kerala.
“I don’t want to wash dirty linen in public but many people and their families were displaced and driven out of their homes in Kashmir. There were no protests in JNU when that happened. But to commemorate Afzal Guru there were protests.
“Whether you accept capital punishment or not is a different issue. You are using the ideas of democracy and dissent to justify the commemoration of those who want to destroy the Indian democracy. So are we trying to say that when we do not ‘tolerate’ the commemoration, the deification of a persons such as Afzal Guru, we are being intolerant?”
Paranjape asserted that it was important for the students at JNU, which is considered an institution of “national integration”, to study and not do politics or they will be “neither here nor there”.
“I tell my students, ‘have you come to JNU to do politics or to study because in the end you will be neither here nor there. The cadres will be picked up and patronised but what about the majority of you from the middle and lower middle class who have to earn a living?”
He claimed that most students spend four to five years in the university but don’t attend classes because “attendance is not compulsory”, and by the time the course ends they “are incompetent to face the world because they don’t have any skills”.