Why Those Who Are Asking To #ShutDownJNU Should In Fact #StandWithJNU

Posted on February 18, 2016 in Campus Watch

By Pallavi Ghosh

Image source: Rohini Banerjee
Image source: Rohini Banerjee

Once upon a time, I used to wake up, always late, I used to call my friends and ask at what time the class is. I brushed my teeth hurriedly and rushed to the lecture in the morning. After a day-long marathon of lectures, of course with extended breaks in between and loads of snack breaks, I used to spend some time with my friends usually at Ganga dhaba and come back to my hostel reading up for the next day. The next day would pretty much be the same except at times the reading up bit got missed. This what my student life at JNU was.

I hear a lot about how JNU as an academic institution should resume functioning. With all honesty, I want that too. But on what grounds does one say that raiding hostels, picking up students, hacking library websites, beating up teachers as well as students and receiving threat messages are part of a ‘normally functioning academic institution’? Not to forget the denial of institutional resources like electricity and the dysfunctional WiFi to the members of the institution itself. Is this the definition of normal functioning of an academic institute? How are students who are being picked up, locked up and warned through messages, supposed to study? How are the teachers injured in confrontations supposed to teach? How are the students supposed to speak when the campus is flooded with media and police? What about those JNU students who are receiving threats and caustic remarks being labelled as anti-nationals and also asked to leave their residences for the same? Who will take responsibility for them?

How are we to function as academics when an academic discourse is disallowed to us? We want to function. But why is there no thought about making this campus an academic one and not a den for a police crackdown?

For the last three days, different groups have been sloganeering outside the gates of the campus. As a witness to one of them, I could hear this- “Who will protect the nation?” followed by a resounding “We will”. Now, I had just come out after lunch and I was tempted to ask, against whom do these people claim to protect the nation? Who are threatening the nation? We? The students? The only threat we might offer, which is also really amateurish and immature to be honest, is words – verbal and written. Is it such a threat to the nation to call for police action against us or by shutting us down?

All this presence is precisely stopping us from how we are supposed to function- as students of an academic institution. How about changing your lenses and trying to see us as students wanting to study instead of the much-debated anti-national beings we are being branded as? Now here is a thought – instead of saying #ShutDownJNU, why don’t you join the save JNU campaign because hey, after all, you want us to function like we do. To expect that we act like students, first treat us like students!

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