The hunger strike in JNU campus was called off yesterday. A 16 day hunger strike is quite remarkable and rare even by the standards of JNU protest politics. What is not so remarkable, and in fact what is fairly common, is the murder of social justice and gender equity that we witnessed during this indefinite hunger strike, led by the JNUSU and the so called ‘left’ on campus.
A mere threat by the Delhi High Court, and a promise of ‘conditional protection’, brought JNUSU’s indefinite hunger strike to an end late last evening at the completion of 16 days. I was one of the participants in the hunger strike till the morning of the 16th day, when I was taken to the hospital owing to failing health.
The abrupt end of this hunger strike has amply demonstrated the fact that the so called left organisations in JNU (AISA, AISF, DSF, SFI, BASO) have never been sincere or interested in addressing the questions of social justice and gender equity. One significant reason for this insincerity and dishonesty is that in our country and in JNU the character of the left has predominantly been casteist and brahminical. Is it not true that the left has reduced issues pertaining to social justice and gender equity to a jumla, an electoral gimmick? Let us get our facts straight. The JNUSU had called this indefinite hunger strike on the following issues/demands:
Scrap arbitrary HLEC (High level enquiry committee) in the wake of 9 Feb. event.
The approval of 10 per cent relaxation for OBC candidates in qualifying exam.
Reforming the recent changes in deprivation points keeping in mind the issue of gender justice.
For reducing the weightage of viva voce marks from 30% t0 10%.
For 27% OBC reservation in hostel allottment.
For some of us students and some organisations, along with the immediate issue of scrapping the HLEC, the issues of gender and social discrimination have great importance and need to be remedied without further delay. Unfortunately, the JNUSU and the so called left were genuinely concerned only with the issue of HLEC, and did not give much value to the issues of social justice. I am saying this because the JNUSU and the so called left organisations promptly decided to call off the hunger strike as soon as the Delhi High Court provided some relief with terms and conditions as far as the HLEC was concerned. While all the other issues of social and gender justice which were part of our set of demands remained unaddressed and conveniently forgotten. If the JNUSU wasn’t serious about the issues of deprivation points for women, reduction of viva-voce marks, OBC reservation etc. why did it include them on its agenda for the hunger strike? Why is it necessary for this so-called left to pay lip service to issues of social justice and gender equality? How is it any different from the attempts by RSS to appropriate Ambedkar through gestures of tokenism? Yet again the so called left has betrayed us on the question of dalits, adivasis, women, the downtrodden, and the minorities. Yet again the so called left has retreated from the struggle to ensure social and gender justice. On 10th of May, at the protest outside the Academic Council meeting, when I raised the issues of social justice and gender equity along with the issue of HLEC, I was accused of creating divisions and breaking the ‘unity’ of the movement by these very organisations. How ironical that the members of these very organisations broke the unity of the collective struggle and secretly went to court, without letting their fellow comrades know, to seek a legal solution. Alas, they managed to win an order from the court which effectively puts an end to the movement in exchange for relief from the HLEC recommendations; a court order, a weapon rather, to murder the issues of social justice and gender equity.
My endeavor to critique the so-called Indian left in no way implies that I am not against the Sanghi gang-RSS, VHP, BJP, ABVP etc. (An accusation which my so-called left comrades are raising against me). I strongly believe that in this country the Sanghi Gang is the foremost votary of brahminism, casteism and misogyny. We need to wage a united struggle against them, a struggle which can only be based on social justice and gender justice.