In the recent times, campus politics has been boiling over the issue of nationalism, the right to dissent and the right to protest. This ideological war is a clash between that of the right-wing students’ union ABVP (Akhil Bhartiya Vidhyarthi Parishad) and the rest, which includes the likes of AISA (All India Students’ Association), SFI (Students’ Federation Of India), BASO (Bhagat Singh Ambedkar Students’ Organisation), DSU (Democratic Students’ Union) and NSUI (National Students’ Union Of India). :This is an ideological clash between the right-wing students’ union, Akhil Bhartiya Vidhyarthi Parishad (ABVP), and the rest, which includes All India Students’ Association (AISA), Students’ Federation Of India (SFI), Bhagat Singh Ambedkar Students’ Organisation (BASO), Democratic Students’ Union (DSU) and National Students’ Union Of India (NSUI). So, this is where it all began.
On February 9, 2016 when eight ex-members of DSU organised a cultural event protesting against what they called – The Judicial Killings Of Afzal Guru And Maqbool Bhatt. It is worth noting that they were not the first people to question this judgement. It had repeatedly been questioned by some of the top judges, lawyers, human rights organisations and many other prominent personalities. As in the case of Afzal Guru, capital punishment was awarded simply to satisfy the nation’s collective conscience.
The trouble started when just 20 minutes before the start of this event ABVP wrote to the administration to withdraw its permission for this event. At that point of time, members and office bearers of AISA, SFI and NSUI rushed to the venue to save their democratic space and their right to dissent and protest. Slogans against India were raised, but videos failed to show any faces apart from a Zee News video that showed two ABVP activists shouting slogans supporting Pakistan. Students at JNU believe that these slogans couldn’t be instantaneous and were pre-planned. However, even before an FIR could be registered, the media had already concluded that the organisers were anti-nationals and that the whole of JNU was an anti-national university. Since then, there has been a campaign that has called for shutting down of JNU. It is bewildering that this campaign was crafted by manipulating the nation’s collective conscience. The hooliganism at Patiala House was encouraged and for the salvation of the nation’s pride, the women in JNU were robbed of theirs.
Umar Khalid was invited by the literary society of Ramjas College to speak on the topic – “The War In Adivasi Areas”, but in accordance to the right wing ideologies ABVP wasn’t comfortable with an “anti-national” being a part of any such event, and as is their habit, they resorted to violence which eventually led to the cancellation of this seminar.
In protest against ABVP’s violent behaviour, AISA and SFI decided to march to Maurice Nagar police station and file an FIR. While ABVP violently tried to stop this march at several places. Students and teachers were brutally beaten, female students and journalists were manhandled. Again one can find people openly supporting this act of violence and the manhandling of female students and journalists. Why? Just to satisfy our collective conscience? It is a conscience that has been formed through words telecast from the media rooms, one that has been crafted by the politicians and imbibed by us without really thinking. It is a conscience that isn’t truly ours. It has made monsters out of men and blinded them in hatred such that they have begun to justify and encourage violence, even if it’s against women.
We need to ask ourselves, how far are we willing to go for the sake of this conscience? Which way are we heading? And, if we are following each other mindlessly, then where is the space for critical thinking?