This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

How The JNU Row Could Be A “Calculated And Sinister Political Strategy” By BJP And ABVP

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Toba Tek Singh:

Activists from various Hindu right-wing groups shout slogans during a protest against the students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) outside the university campus in New Delhi, India, February 16, 2016. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee - RTX275UR
Image Credit: Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee.

Here is how Bharatiya Janata Party and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad created the Jawaharlal Nehru University controversy, as part of a calculated and sinister political strategy.

To many of us, the events happening in what is now being called the JNU row seem to be scenes from a black comedy, but sadly, they are all too true – in fact, they are a drama that has been orchestrated by the BJP to win votes.

Since the past year, the BJP government has lost face time and time again. The infamous 10 lakh suit with Modi’s name all over it, the government’s image as being anti-poor and anti-farmer due to the land bill, the humiliating defeat in Bihar in October 2015, the Vyapam scam, the allegations that Sushma Swaraj helped Lalit Modi, the Dadri lynching and the intolerance debate that followed, and the suicide of Rohith Vemula have all been major setbacks to the current government.

With the upcoming elections in West Bengal, Assam, Kerala and Puducherry, and the student movement gaining momentum with Rohith Vemula as a rallying point, they needed a new issue which would portray them in a favourable light, and they needed it fast. And they found it. Or shall we say, manufactured it.

Students of JNU were organising an event on February 9, 2016. The event organisers had pasted posters across the campus inviting students to gather for a protest march against the “judicial killing of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat” and in solidarity with the “struggle” of Kashmiri migrants to be showcased through poetry, art and music. The ABVP protested against the posters, and pressurised the administration to cancel the event. There is nothing new about this. ABVP has been raising protests against many such events, such as disrupting the screening of Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai in Delhi University and other colleges all over the country.

On February 10, Zee News ran a report that ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ slogans were shouted in JNU by the organisers of the event, and that night, they held a panel discussion on this issue. They repeatedly showed a video where some unidentified people are shouting, and heatedly alleged that this shouting was “Pakistan Zindabad” and the students were the organisers of the event.

The BJP now had exactly the (manufactured) ammunition they needed to launch a nationwide campaign against ‘anti-nationals’ in Indian universities. Thus, BJP vs. students/Dalit students changed to Nationalists vs. anti-Nationalists (which now includes leftists, Dalits, minorities, ‘sickulars’ etc.).

The most amazing fact which is now emerging is that there is no proof that anti-national slogans such as “Pakistan Zindabad” and “Kashmir ki azai tak bharat ki barbadi tak, jang rahegi jaari” were shouted at all! Zee News producer Vishwa Deepak has quit over the “biased coverage” by his organisation, and in a moving resignation letter writes that the slogans were not “Pakistan Zindabad” but “Bharatiya Court Zindabad,” which were played “again and again to stoke passions.” In reality, some of the people in the video have been identified as ABVP activists and were actually shouting “Bhartiya Court Zindabad.” This is especially significant because this is the video the Delhi police used to register a suo motu FIR against the students, as reported by the Indian Express.

Another video which showed Kanhaiya Kumar shouting anti-national slogans has also been exposed to be doctored. In the original video, Kanhaiya was asking for freedom from casteism, poverty and communalism but the audio was tampered with to make it seem as if he was asking for freedom from India. A third video which shows a crowd of students and the slogans of “Bharat tere tukde honge, inshallah inshallah” can also clearly be seen to be doctored with a different audio track. In the video, you can see that there is one person talking while others are standing that person, but the audio has some clear sloganeering. The only controversial slogans we could find in the available videos (which we believe are authentic) are the usual ones by Kashmiri students such as “Azaadi” and “Jitne Afzal maroge, har ghar se Afzal niklenge.”

Since then, there has been a concentrated effort to keep the ‘anti-national’ angle in the limelight, and in people’s minds. Top BJP leaders including home minister Rajnath Singh (who alleged that Hafiz Saeed supported the JNU protests, based on a parody account on Twitter), Smriti Irani, and other party spokespersons have been making statements every day on the need to root out anti-national elements from the country.

In the case of Umar Khalid, some news channels ran different reports every day: that an IB report showed that he was a Jaish-e-Mohammad sympathiser (a terror group in Kashmir); that he had visited Pakistan twice; that he was planning this in many other universities; and that he had made 800 calls in the past month to various places including Kashmir. All this, without any proof whatsoever. A top official told the Hindu that there was no such IB report, and Umar does not even have a passport.

The question we need to ask is, where was the media getting this information from? If they were making it up themselves, why were they doing so? In any case, they must be held accountable for running unverified information and inciting hatred and violence against students. If they were getting the information from somewhere, whose sinister design is this?

An article in the Hindu, from which I’m going to quote extensively, shows that the BJP wants to make this a huge national issue.

The BJP continued to keep the pitch high on the JNU controversy and announced that it would “expose” anti-national forces through protests on the streets and discussion in Parliament.

“We will raise the issue of nationalism in protests on the streets and we want a discussion on it in Parliament as well,”  [BJP national secretary Shrikant Sharma] added.

In fact, according to government managers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at an all-party meeting called by him on Tuesday, said that he too desired that “all views on nationalism, patriotism and what constitutes maryada (normative limits)” be discussed in Parliament.

The government, sources said, is keen to elaborate on the nature of the slogans that had been raised inside the JNU campus.

“The discussion will not be specifically on JNU, but on higher education and campuses, and speakers will refer to the Rohith Vemula suicide at the University of Hyderabad,” said a source in the government.

This is a very old strategy of the BJP to win elections: polarise the people in an effort to win support in upcoming elections, such as those in West Bengal, Assam and Kerala. The BJP is working hard to put Rahul Gandhi, the Congress, and the Left into the ‘anti-national’ category, against which it will paint its own identity as the ‘protector of Bharat Mata’. All this is very clear from the various statements the party leaders and supporters are making every day.

The strategy seems to be working at least in the short-term, because the word on the street is that action against people who raise ‘anti-national’ slogans is well-deserved, even if it includes lawyers attacking journalists and students from JNU. (The BJP MLA O P Sharma and these lawyers claimed that the people they attacked had been shouting anti-Indian slogans, again without any proof whatsoever.) The people I talked to are not clear on what exactly happened, but they have seen the (fake) video of Kanhaiya and Umar Khalid raising anti-national slogans on their phones and TVs.

No one who has participated in discussions on the JNU issue can deny that the people are clearly divided. There is hate and anger on both sides, and the discourse is horrible. Indian society has not evolved so much that it can support freedom of speech when it is against the nation. The idea of ‘Bharat Mata’ continues to capture the imagination of the people of India.

What the BJP leaders are not giving due importance to is the politicisation of the progressive students their suppression is resulting in. For most people of my generation, the Congress in the government is all we’ve known, and the RSS has been a benign threat. The Sangh Parivar’s vitriolic campaign was focused mainly in the rural and semi-urban areas, and it is only now that they have reached Delhi. Thus, P. Sainath says in his lecture in JNU, “By the way, that process (you are fighting against) has been around in the countryside of India for two decades. It has now reached the elite campuses of India – that process is the criminalisation of dissent….Welcome to the rest of India!”

All the ‘liberals’ who were ready to embrace the BJP in 2014, unaware or ignoring its dangerous ideology because they thought it would lead to ‘development’ are now seeing just how oppressive and dangerous a right-wing, sectarian party can be. And with the idealism of youth, we are now finding a reason to be politically conscious and politically active citizens.

At such a time, all of us who can see the BJP’s tactic to communalise and polarise the atmosphere by pitting so-called ‘nationalists’ against the ‘anti-nationalists’, need to step up and respond to this hate-mongering with love and understanding. I honestly believe that everyone has a rational side to them. So, instead of fighting, we must try to engage people in debate, and show them the reality of the BJP’s campaign. Against their efforts to spread lies, we have to make a greater effort to spread the truth. We need to stand together in this time of lies and rumour-mongering, and show the BJP that powered with critical thinking and the internet, they can neither succeed in terrorising the students into conformity nor in making us hate each other.

You must be to comment.
  1. ankesh

    i can see what for this page is on your right side index atleast while giving argument have a good ui for ur page, which will not show all recent article posted by you..
    this is called hate politics

  2. Pooja

    Why were the JNU students holding a rally in support of Afzal Guru? So if you want to change somethings in India now you support those who plan terror attacks, spread panic or plant bombs? I dont think so.

  3. Pooja

    Open letter to Barkha Dutt by unsubtle desi – 8.6k shares …..trending do read !

  4. Sourabh Aglave

    Is writer ke matabik subkuch BJP kiya karaya he Leftist ka to kuch dosh hi nahi he , or inhone jis sabut par ye likha he wo ab Sabit ho chuka he ki waha Pakistan Zindabad ke Nare diye gaye the or waha in Lekhak ke ladle Deahbhakt Kanhaiya ji or Umar khalid bhi khade the

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Submitted anonymously

By सुमित सिंह

By Imran Khan

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below