In the JNU episode, the verdict declaring Kanhaiya and company anti-national was passed by the media. In the Hyderabad Central University, the police passed the judgment on protesting students and labeled them that as anti-nationals they do not possess any human rights. That apart from setting the precedent of beating them in police van while being taken to the police station.
With such multitasking media and police department what do we need courts for?
Whether the students of JNU and HCU are anti-national is for court to decide. The punishment for sedition should be dealt only to those found guilty after they have been found so by the courts.
Till the courts pronounce verdict the case between government and students remains disputed. What is not disputed however is a pattern of administrative high handedness and application of extrajudicial methods to subdue protest, rational thought and free speech.
At HCU students were subjected to hunger, thirst and power-cut for 48 hours. And these were students apart from those who had lost their human rights by the virtue of being unproven anti-nationals.
A Jhadavpur university student was threatened with acid attack while Umar Khalid’s sister was threatened with rape. Kanhaiya Kumar was beaten in court premises and then in lock up by lawyers. Needless to say many of the above acts were not just unconstitutional but also criminal.
The happenings at JNU and HCU are not co-incidence. Neither the muting of Akbaruddin Owaisi’s mike when he took up the HCU issue in Telengana Assemby a co-incidence. Nor the flashes of brilliance in HRD minister’s brain, namely her warning to Urdu writers, her stand on research funding, her awe inspiring delivery of lies about Rohit Vemula’s death, her decision close AMU centers, her inability to accord basic courtesy to AMU V-C are any co-incidences.
The incessant trolling and criticism of historian Irfan Habib and poet Gauhar Raza are not co-incidents either. Nor the fact that Maharashtra MLA Waris Pathan was suspended just for refusing to chant a slogan. The pattern of attempts to censor speech, subdue dissent and malign institutions of secular and free thought is an unmistakable sign of fascist ambition. Of hooligan brand of fascism.
Not that these ambitions will ever get fulfilled. India is no Germany. India will never be a Germany. The secular fabrics of this nation are too well woven for a bunch of hooligans to come and shred them. India’s identity lies in it’s pluralistic ethos. It always will.
What these hooligans are unable to realize is that they are playing with fire. When Sahir Ludhianvi said Jurm-e-ulfat pe hame log saza dete hain; Kaise naadan hain sholon ko hawa dete hain ( People punish us for the crime of love ;foolish of them to not realize that they are actually fuelling the fire) he was talking of love.
And what stands true for love, stands true for every other emotion of youth. The fervor and passion of young blood is known to overturn empires, cause revolutions and change the course of history.
It is foolish to assume that youth can be suppressed by blatant use of power. On the contrary the more they are suppressed the more strongly they revolt.
Kahin yun na ho ke dil me sarfaroshi ki tamanna aa jaye
Neze pe ho sar aur zuban baaz na aaye
(Lest it should happen that one desire martyrdom so much that the tongue does not stop dissenting even when head is severed from body)
An unknown Kanhaiya Kumar has turned into a youth leader overnight. Even as thousands of suicides go unnoticed Rohith Vemula’s suicide has caught the nation’s imagination it being a consequence of institutional suppression.
Rohith Vemmula the ‘child’ did not make it easy for anyone. The ‘children’ of HCU who have been branded anti-national, deprived basic human rights, been arrested and beaten for opposing a Vice Chancellor are unlikely to make it easy for anyone.
Beatings, gaging and detentions are shots that are sure to backfire.
In Nazi Germany thinkers and intellectuals like , Ernest Hemingway, Neils Bohr, Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud had faced heavy censorship.
These men have lived on like legends while Hitler apart from killing himself ensured abiding notoriety for himself.
Time for someone to learn from others’ mistakes.