Recently, on May 2, the Jawaharlal Nehru Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) held a press conference. Among other demands, they also raised the issue of a mysterious ‘dossier’ that has been circulating amongst those concerned with the affairs of JNU. The JNUTA wants an investigation into it and is looking to explore legal options, as the secretary, JNUTA, Vikramaditya told YKA in a chat.
Two days after the press conference, the North East Students’ Forum, JNU took out a march protesting against the ‘dossier’ and even set it alight at the Administration Block.
The dossier (which YKA has reviewed and is in possession of) matters because it purports to expose several professors of JNU, and students, for their alleged ‘anti-India’ activities. However, it does not tell us anything about who prepared it. In the absence of any author, it reads like a compendium of the activities of said professors and students, which are allegedly ‘anti-national’. It does contain certain remarks but we are not told exactly who has made them.
Professor Rajan Kumar of the School of International Studies (SIS) at JNU told YKA that it appeared to be a case of “political rivalry” and “personal grudge” leading to the creation of the said ‘dossier’. “It’s an attempt to fix these professors,” he alleged. He added that the claims made in the dossier were false.
It is pertinent to note that although the “sex, drugs and rock and roll” lifestyle of JNU students is alleged in the dossier, it is only a small part of it. The main concern of the ‘dossier’ is Kashmir and the activities of some professors and students with regard to the movement for self-determination in the valley, along with other incidents that have occurred there.
The ‘dossier’ is quite heavily focused on the alleged role of one person in particular: professor Kamal Mitra Chenoy from the School of International Studies. Along with him it also focuses on the alleged roles of professor Anuradha Chenoy, also an SIS professor and his wife, and two other professors, Ayesha Kidwai and Nivedita Menon.
Citing a number of articles, and pamphlets, related to the movement for self-determination in Kashmir, and the demand for the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), the dossier purports to prove that professor Chenoy is an ‘anti-national.’ This claim is based on his participation in seminars and conferences which have been held on the said issues, and does not take into account that many others were also involved.
For example, it cites a news report regarding a conference held in Muzaffarabad in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), on the issue of Kashmir, which was attended by professor K.M.Chenoy and Anuradha Chenoy, in 2011. On the basis of their attendance, the ‘dossier’ notes that professor Chenoy was involved in ‘anti-national’ activities. However, as The Wire has reported, permission was duly granted to both the professors for attending it by former Vice-Chancellor of JNU, S.K. Sopory. Moreover, professor Chenoy told YKA that the permission was in fact given in writing, as is the process for any international visit by a faculty member of JNU. This was confirmed to YKA by Sopory.
Since Ghulam Nabi Fai, formerly of the Kashmir American Council, also attended the Muzaffarabad seminar, the dossier cites a report and claims that this proved professor Chenoy was also linked to the Inter-Services Intelligence. It also cites several documents related to Fai’s trial.
The same technique is maintained in the rest of the document which extends to a couple of hundred pages and more.
The dossier goes on to claim that “Over 300 Kashmiri and north-east separatist activists are staying illegally in the hostels of JNU. They are the main force behind organising anti-India activities, protest demonstrations, talks and lectures by separatist leaders in the JNU campus.”
It adds that “Muslim students” are behind the “anti-Hindu” movement in JNU, citing “Beef eating Mahishswar Diwas (sic)” and “Hate Hindu campaigns (sic),” along with students from North-east and others.
The dossier claims that the Democratic Students Union (DSU) and All India Students Association (AISA) are run by professor Chenoy, his wife and others through proxy and that they have been focusing lately on issues related to Kashmir. It adds that these teachers have recruited over a hundred students – naming Umar Khalid, Banojyotsna Lahiri, current vice-president of the JNUSU Shehla Rashid Shora, among others. It alleges that the teachers help these students with jobs in international NGOs as a quid-pro-quo.
Subsequently, it cites pamphlets and posters of events held on these issues, including regarding secessionist movements in the North-east. The content of the pamphlets can be described as against India’s policies in Kashmir and North-east. For example, one of them, from 2010, states:
“We do not need any more ‘interlocution’ to hear what the people of Kashmir are saying. The writing is loud and clear on the walls of Kashmir. Slogans like ‘Go India Go Back’ and ‘Hum Kya Chahte? Azaadi’ are echoing in the valley every single day. The deaf Indian state might try to silence it, its corporate media lackeys might try to ignore the reality, but this is what the millions of Kashmiris are saying in unison.”
It goes on to cite how in 1995, a well-known Kashmiri secessionist was invited to JNU to speak and “Kashmiri terrorists” stayed in the university guesthouse.
The Mushaira that took place in 2000, when a couple of army personnel got into a scuffle with students over ‘anti-India’ slogans also gets a mention. It goes on to list several such ‘ant-India’ activities.
Interestingly, a letter written to the police by a former JNU professor complaining about alleged slandering online by DSU regarding a sexual harassment case also forms a part of the dossier. YKA reached out to the professor. He agreed to have written such a letter but distanced himself from the rest of the document.
Finally, the dossier demands an enquiry into the activities of professor Chenoy, his wife Anuradha Chenoy, and other professors like Ayesha Kidwai and Nivedita Menon. It says pending such an enquiry, they should be suspended and their passports should be seized. It adds that research institutions under Government of India should be “cleansed and purged” of these teachers.
This is a mystery. The Wire reported that professor Amita Singh, who addressed a press conference on March 14, and mentioned the ‘dossier’ to reporters could have been behind it. However, she has denied it in a response. The Wire, YKA confirmed, stands by its story.
In her response, Singh claimed that a SIS professor was in fact behind the creation of this dossier because of which he was denied reinstatement as the Dean of the centre. But that the reason given at the time was a sexual harassment charge against him even though he had been cleared of it.
YKA reached out to the said professor who has retired but received an extension of three years recently. He denied having anything to do with the dossier and maintained that he was not made the Dean due to the charges of sexual harassment.
Indications suggest that it was already in existence, in some form or the other, since 2014 although the period it covers runs from 1995 to this year, including the February 9 incident in JNU which led to a veritable storm. The dossier itself refers to incidents in 2014 as ‘recent’. A source told YKA that former V-C Sopory was in the know of the dossier and had taken the previously mentioned professor to task over it. However, on being asked about it, Sopory told YKA that there was a ‘difference’ between “information and complaint” and he “did not remember” much else. He maintained that it was because of the sexual harassment charges that the said professor was not made Dean again.
In 2014, a piece in ‘The Pioneer’ had repeated some of the charges contained in the present ‘dossier’. The piece was written by journalist K.G. Suresh who has been appointed as the director general of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication. Suresh told YKA that his piece was based on “certain papers” and that he did not know of any dossier.
The JNUTA and the students have taken the matter seriously, as is evident from their statements and protests. Vikramaditya (JNUTA Sec.) told YKA that if the previous VC knew about the dossier and did nothing about it, this will be taken up by the JNUTA.
Both professors Amita Singh and K.M. Chenoy are contemplating legal action, it is learnt, as are other professors named in the ‘dossier’.
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