The Way Media Reported The JNU Row, A Visit To The Campus Was A Surprise For Me

Posted on February 23, 2016 in Campus Watch, Society

By Ananta Prasad:

Photo shared on SFI JNU Unit’s timeline, Facebook.

I was getting late for my morning flight so I had to leave the gathering and meeting early. After a 15 minute walk loaded with thoughts to pen down this article, I reached the Gate No. 1 of Jawaharlal Nehru University. To my surprise, a huge herd of Media persons with cameras and microphones were standing there trying to get a sneak peak into incidents happening inside JNU. A few of them were facing the camera to give a P2C (Piece to Camera). To my surprise, among the few I could recognise, Rahul Kanwal of TV Today group was standing holding the mike. At such an odd hour, though it was unusual, I could understand the importance of the situation and the dedication of the journalist.

I spent around 3-4 hours inside the campus and tried to get a feel of the heat. Since the controversy has started, there has been a fight within us. Some of us support the ‘anti-nationals’ who have been so termed by a few so called ‘nationalists’. Well, that’s the million dollar question. Who is a real ‘nationalist’? To find an answer to this I decided to undergo the pain of watching more than 20 YouTube videos related to the issue and also read more than 50 most shared articles supporting both sides.

Some people we call ‘rightists’ and some ‘leftists’. But there are a large number of people who are free thinkers. Their decisions are evidence based, logic based and mostly biased towards first-hand information. They keep one foot on rightist philosophy and the other on leftist ideology to take a stand based on their own judgement. Therefore, being liberal and logical, I took another step to go to JNU and get more details about the matter. The atmosphere there must guide me! That is the idea which I am sure I can convey properly to all.

There has been a new development. Judicial authority in India, until now was with the Courts of Law but has now been partially transferred to people like Arnab Goswami and channels like Zee News. If the whole country is divided in the name of national and anti-national, it is not merely because we had ‘anti-national’ slogans chanted by a few students in JNU. Rather, it’s the media trial led by Arnab Goswami and Zee News which provoked the whole country to do so.

While walking along the deserted roads of JNU along few of my friends studying there, I could hear the slogans from the administrative block and we decided to head towards it. It was around 11.30 p.m. at night. I was trying to listen to the different conversations of students discussing, in different groups, amidst pro-JNU slogans by JUNSU (JNU Students’ Union). I was trying to get the real sense of democracy and the gaps in between. Was it anti-national and a violation of democratic rights or a fight against hypocrisy?

What does our democracy teach us? To question, or to blame?

I do not accept the slogans calling Afzal a ‘martyr’. But questioning the trial of Afzal won’t make anyone anti-national. But who gets to decide who is guilty of sedition and who gets to brand someone as anti-national? Arnab Goswami, who, in a way, is spreading hatred by his rudeness and biased media trial, or Zee News, which allegedly produced a doctored video to get a higher TRP? The media, as I have learned it from the best media institute of India, is ethical and it’s a service. Serving with facts and information is something that the media should be doing rather than putting forth judgements creating mass hatred which leads to incidents like the one at the Patiala House court.

Shehla Rashid started with addressing the legal complications that the JNU movement has been facing and this time her stand was much logical than before which I could see was getting praise from the crowd. Keep in mind that this crowd was not a crowd pulled to the venue by any political party or group. They had gathered on their own in solidarity. At the same time, I could hear that the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad crowd in the campus was having a DJ night in one of the boys hostel.

My eyes were then on Umar Khalid, who said in his speech last night, “I am Umar Khalid and I am not a terrorist.” Though a little too far to the left for my liking, he put a very valid question about the media trial and that too before trial in a court of Law. But I was more interested to listen to Rama Naga, the General Secretary of JNUSU. He hails from Koraput, Odisha and has also been accused of being an ‘anti-national’. As he stated, he is the only member in his family to go beyond matriculation. His anger and outrage came out through his words. But he addressed the gathered crowd as “Sathiyon.” With confidence, and not a very loud voice, he started and addressed the biggest question which many have been asking for the last few days. He made it clear that they had not escaped. They were very much present in the campus. They were only trying to avoid legal complications.

Again, Naga addressed the basic idea of why they are fighting. It is not about supporting Afzal or being ‘anti-national’. It is the fight against injustice. He was worried and he was concerned about his parents and family being targeted by media and others. He appealed to people to refrain from carrying out their threats.

Many people may dislike me for what I’ve written, which may sound like I’m pro-communist. But, let me be very frank. I believe in a free thinking and liberal politics rather than biased decision making and fooling the whole country with mis-information which may harm the communal harmony of the country.

I am amazed again to see how irresponsibly the Indian Home Minister acted when he issued false information putting so much faith on a fake social media post. The stand of Human Resource Development Minister was that we must put the national flag all across India’s central universities. The most popular person, Mr. Modi, was silent on the issue. Where is the country headed and how is the government responding to the whole fiasco? The unfair arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar has united the students. The #StandwithJNU tag is now trending and causing more student groups to unite all across India against the system and the government.

Several questions remain unsolved. The release of Kanhaiya and the matter of the trial of other accused students, among other things, are still bothering people. The challenge now is to be tolerant and face this issue.

While the social media fights have gone to a different level, there are many leaders in the making on the ground. The future of India seems bright. While writing this piece inside the flight, I could see the silver lining in the clouds and I thought to myself, “Ache din aa gaye (the good days have arrived).”

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