As the 2019 elections are around the corner, vote banks have to be filled and supporting narratives created, we see how BJP’s favourite narrative of criminalising JNU, demonising student activists and creating the ‘us’ (nationalists) and ‘them’ (anti-nationalists) narrative has come to the forefront again.
JNU’s high-level inquiry committee upheld Umar Khalid’s rustication, and a fine of ₹ 10,000 has been imposed on Kanhaiya Kumar in connection with the February 9, 2016 incident. Umar Khalid said that they would challenge the order in court.
“The systematic targeting is being done of the students and activists under the farcical garb of this high-level inquiry. The court has repeatedly found faults with the inquiry process and has vindicated the apprehensions. This is the third time in the last two years that the administration has come up with a ‘rustication’ order against Umar Khalid – an order that has been twice set aside by the courts,” Umar said in his statement.
This is a selective targeting of dissenting voices in the student community who against all odds have refused to break down despite massive attacks by the Sangh Parivar.
The JNU panel had in 2016 recommended rustication of Umar Khalid and two other students and imposed a fine of ₹ 10,000 on Kanhaiya Kumar in connection with the campus event where ‘anti-national’ slogans were allegedly raised.
The five-member panel had also imposed a financial penalty on 13 other students for violation of disciplinary norms.
Umar Khalid, in his statement, further writes, “We have been student activists in JNU raising our voice against the arrogance of power under the Modi regime and against the manifold injustices in society. But alongside we have also been students who have pursued our academics seriously over the years. And the two are not exclusive of each other. Our politics also reflects in our academic pursuit and vice versa. Both relate to the rights of the most marginalised in our society. As the ones studying in a public funded university with taxpayers money, we have a certain sense of responsibility towards our society. My own PhD is on the socio-economic deprivation and political marginalisation of the tribals since colonial times. It is rather ironical that the same regime that says that students are non-serious about their studies in JNU is today hell-bent upon stopping us from submitting our PhDs that have been the products of rigorous research, passion, and criticality. They have conjured this HLEC order just two weeks before the deadline of our final submission which is shameful and rabidly vindictive. It is symptomatic of their larger assault on public funded education, on research on social justice and on criticality.”
In my opinion (and I share his father’s fears), during the sedition row, Umar was profiled for his Muslim identity which was evidently Islamophobic. The deliberate witch hunt thereon was an attempt to demonise him in the mainstream discourse. The primary target has always been Khalid despite so many of his fellow comrades subscribing to the same politics and taking the same stand on many issues concerning the country today. Are the multiple targets on Khalid because he has a Mulsim name? He has also been receiving death threats since.
Umar Khalid has always stood up and spoken for the rights of tribals, minorities, students, scheduled castes, and other weaker sections of the society and asserted their rights to equal opportunities, education, dignity, livelihood, and representation. He has time and again asked the government difficult questions on multiple social media platforms and public speeches.