Jawaharlal Nehru University, my alma mater, has gone through a rough roller-coaster ride in last one year. The events that made the university famous, as well as infamous, are well known to almost all the people who are politically aware in this country. While it was quite easy for the people outside to judge the university and the students, it was entirely different for the students to justify their stand and struggle throughout the course of events.
February 9, 2016, is engraved as a black day in the minds of students as well as teachers in the university. While JNU has always registered its active participation in the struggle for different social, economic and political causes in the country, a solidarity march on the night of Afzal Guru’s death anniversary changed the perspective of common people towards JNU’s struggle.
A group of extremist students, not belonging to a particular organisation, called for a cultural event in the memory of Afzal Guru and Kashmir’s struggle for its right to self-determination. While the event ‘The country without post-office’ was a call made by nine students from the University, many other organisations attended the event to express their solidarity. Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, a student wing of RSS, protested against the event. The two opposing groups clashed.
Ironically, the joint secretary of Student Union, who was a student leader from ABVP, invited Zee News and Delhi Police to the campus for covering the event. The clash led to harsh sloganeering by few Kashmiris, including few extremists supporting the event. The slogans raised did not only mention Kashmir’s struggle but also criticised India.
The aftermath of the events is well-revised, including the arrest of three students from JNU, including the students’ president Kanhaiya Kumar. The university, including all the students, teachers, staff, and workers joined the protest to fight for the justice. The idea of the struggle was not to fight for a particular ideology or organisation but to fight for the ideology of the university and the idea with which JNU has survived for all these years.
The united struggle became possible because of the common interest to upholding the virtue of the university. While students faced all the threats, ill-treatment, comments and even physical harassment during those days, others kept asking about ‘our side’ in the whole event. It became essential for everyone to explain their the political stand during the events. There were differences among friends and even families.
The media portrayed the whole event in a negative manner and the in a span of just a week, students turned ‘anti-nationalists’ for the entire country. People, who may not have had any idea about JNU and its politics for years, suddenly started questioning the credibility of the university and the quality of education given to students. Few politicians made insensitive comments about female students of the university, the life in JNU and even the count of condoms.
As a common student, who was never a part of any political organisation, I have always been aware of the political activities going on inside the campus. This event made me take a stand in support of my university and unfortunately that made me an anti-national for so-called patriots of the nation. The events made me question the credibility of ABVP, who were hell-bent on maligning the image of the university. Few leaders of the organisation did not even restrain from picking out the names of particular students and teachers from the University and criticising them openly on social media. This was shameful and shocking. The ideological difference became personal, and the personal conflict took a nasty turn as the time progressed.
The worst shock was termination of the Vice Chancellor’s term. Professor SK Supory, the former VC of the University, had always stood by the students during such times. He had always been a VC who took care of the needs of the students. Mr Jagadesh Kumar, a believer of RSS’ ideology, was appointed the new VC of the university. And the events in last one year are enough to tell about his role and responsibilities.
From resignation of two chief proctors to the demand of VC, the year has been dedicated to politics more than ever. Though, the ideological differences have corroded the unity, the motto of ‘study and struggle’ will always be important to every student in the university.
The students are once again coming together to fight against the University Grants Commission Gazette, implemented by the University for the admission policy. It always feels proud to see the continuous struggle by the students, and it makes me happy to be a part of this struggle.