By Daanish Bin Nabi for Youth Ki Awaaz:
Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami is a veteran Left politician from Kashmir. He has won from the Kulgam constituency in 1996, 2002, 2008 and 2014. He is presently the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Jammu and Kashmir State Committee Secretary and a member of the party’s Central Committee. In view of the JNU controversy, Youth Ki Awaaz spoke to Tarigami, to know his views.
Here are excerpts:
Daanish Bin Nabi (DBN): For how many years have you been associated with Communist Party of India (Marxist) Jammu and Kashmir?
Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami (MYT): I have been the part of Left activities since my childhood. At an early age, I remember in 1967, I was arrested along with other friends for the first time while raising some demands for peasants in Kulgam area of south Kashmir. Since then, I have been engaged in student politics and other political activities. This has resulted in my detention under Defence of India Rules (DIR), Preventive Detention Act (PDA) and Public Safety Act (PSA) several times.
DBN: How do you view the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) row?
MYT: The JNU happenings and the way it has been handled by Delhi Police with the full backing of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led Government of India (GoI) has evoked deep concern across the country. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has been contemplating since long to encroach upon the autonomy of universities and thereby making ideological inroads in all institutions of higher learning. In fact, Sangh Parivar wants to run the universities like RSS Shakhas (units).
The universities across the country are being attacked in a well-designed manner. The way the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) Pune students protested against the imposition of a RSS supporter as its director, the Chennai IIT and the Hyderabad Central University incidents where Dalit students were suspended leading to the tragic suicide of Rohith Vemula, speaks volumes about the direct attacks of Sangh Parivar on the educational institutions.
JNU which has been an eyesore for the RSS since long is the latest addition on that list. Using false videos and an isolated incident as a pretext, the Delhi police virtually put the entire campus under siege and started harassing, arresting and intimidating students indiscriminately.
JNU campus has been at the centre stage of academic excellence and has a reputation of being one of the finest seats of learning. It has produced people of eminence in all fields of life and the country feels proud of such institutions. An environment of debate, discussion and dissent has been available in JNU since its inception. Time and again, desperate attempts have been made by RSS and its affiliate Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) to undermine these healthy traditions. With the excuse of some elements raising “objectionable” slogans, the BJP government cracked down on the entire campus despite the fact that no evidence whatsoever has been produced against any individual. The authorities evoked the colonial clauses of Indian Penal Code and arrested students under sedition charges. (These) have been opposed by even those who disapprove of the slogans raised by some elements at the campus.
The government cannot selectively use this section as it is being done now. If someone objects to the hanging of Afzal Guru, he is dubbed as being an anti-national. But when RSS supporters shout slogans in support of Nathu Ram Godse, assassin of Mahatma Gandhi, he is hailed as a hero and money is collected to build his statue.
Modi government doesn’t take any action against these elements. It is nothing but hypocrisy. The incident at Patiala Court has sent shock waves across the country. (The brazen way in which) a BJP legislator and his supporters attacked media persons and JNU students and ruthlessly beat up Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) President Kanhaiya Kumar inside the court premises is highly shameful and condemnable. This can only suit the BJP goons. The image of our institutions is deeply dented by such hooliganism which has evoked widespread condemnation across the world.
DBN: What repercussions can the JNU controversy have on Kashmir?
MYT: The situation in Jammu and Kashmir is worrisome as the uncertainty has not been addressed politically. This has resulted in generating and promoting widespread hopelessness and disillusionment among our younger generation.
What is required is a serious dialogue with these youngsters at both at governmental and non-governmental levels. Debates and discussions on such issues among students in universities can help us in finding out the way forward.
DBN: Left has been on the forefront in agitating for the students of JNU. Why don’t we see the same kind of protests in Kashmir by the Left?
MYT: Left has been contributing its bit in raising its voice against injustices committed on our people by the authorities in Jammu and Kashmir. The Left has consistently been taking the issues of the people in appropriate forums.
Recently, the Left parties had organized protests at various places particularly at Jammu against the harassment and illegal arrests of JNU students. CPI (M) has been at the forefront in protesting against the harassment of Kashmiri students across the country.
DBN: Why is there no student wing of CPIM-JK in the University of Kashmir?
MYT: Students have a bigger role to play on issues which pertain to their studies and unitedly raise their voice against all shades of atrocities. Unfortunately, the authorities in Jammu and Kashmir have opted for not allowing the students to form their unions in educational institutions of Kashmir. This, in our opinion, amounts to muzzling the voices of our younger generation. The students have to be trusted and encouraged to organize themselves in order to shape their future. Universities provide opportunities for debates even over issues which are controversial. Such debates help in opening up communication with those who feel alienated.