This Day Last Year, JNU Stood Strong Against the Authoritarian Assault on Democracy

This day, one year ago, the President of the JNU Students Union was arrested on the basis of blatantly false accusations, and sedition charges were slapped on him. The police indiscriminately raided hostels as the newly appointed Vice Chancellor and the Registrar had given a blank cheque to the Delhi Police to do whatever they deemed fit in the campus.

Protests against arrest of JNUSU President

Many of the major left students organisations’ top unit leaders of that time were forced to go underground, as it was not clear what the central government was up to. The situation was such that ANYBODY who expressed an opinion different from that of the RSS could be arrested and sedition charges slapped on him/her. Teachers could also be arrested if they said anything critical of the RSS or the BJP government in their classes or elsewhere. The entire university community was shell-shocked at the repression that was unleashed and at the impunity with which terror was being sought to be sown in people’s minds so that all critical thought could be obliterated.

Protests against arrest of JNUSU President

 

Many students were hanging about near the administration block to gauge the situation, and student activists who were present in the campus were in discussions to chalk out a plan of action.

In the midst of overwhelming uncertainty, the representatives of the JNU Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) came to the administration block (which was to later gain fame as the ‘Freedom Square’) at about 4 pm, and announced that there would be a press conference at 6 o’clock in the evening. The press conference would be followed by a march of students and teachers to #SaveJNU from the authoritarian assault on our democratic ethos.

Within two hours, more than a thousand students and teachers gathered at the ad block. Following the press conference, a massive march, the like of which the campus had not seen in recent history, was taken out from the administration block to the main gate of the University. Teachers addressed the JNU

Thus the #StandWithJNU movement was born. The rest, as we say, is history.

(Photos of the #SaveJNU march can be seen here: https://goo.gl/bntWMc )

  • K SHESHU BABU

    Despite all odds, the students of JNU stood the test of time and to a great extent, succeeded in curbing right extremism from the university. Still, a lot remains to be done, especially the designs of VC and other authorities to curtail future admissions which affect the entry of dalits and Muslims and other weaker sections must be addressed. The university must be available for all to pursue quality higher education