Letter of Solidarity With JNU from Ashoka University

We, the undersigned—who study and work at Ashoka University, as well as the alumni of the Young India Fellowship, in our private capacity—write to voice our solidarity with the students and faculty at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). Recent events at JNU, including the arrest of the JNUSU President over the charge of sedition, as well as other disproportionate measures, amount to a deeply troubling attack on academic and cultural freedom. We strongly condemn the display of brute force by the police, who were given free entry to the campus, including hostels, to question, detain and arrest students and faculty members. We protest the lack of police protection to those students and faculty, and condemn the use of State force against democratic expressions of dissent.

As proponents of liberal education, we believe that societies can only grow when they foster intellectual engagement with fundamental social questions and contemporary political issues through non-violent debate and argumentation. University campuses are, and should be, autonomous spaces where people can peacefully express as well as challenge dissent and opinions. However, the recent spate of events involving many university campuses across the country has posed a serious threat to the sanctity of such spaces as well as the democratic right to dissent and freedom of speech and expression. This includes the turn of events that led to Rohith Vemula’s death at the University of Hyderabad, the withholding of grants by the Ministry of Human Resource Development to Panjab University, and several instances of violent disruption of the screening of the film Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai in campuses across the country.
We condemn the State-backed misuse of the charge of sedition, a colonial era provision in the Indian Penal Code, against the JNUSU President, Kanhaiya Kumar. In the documented absence of any allegedly ‘anti-national’ actions or rhetoric on his part, we see the charge as an attempt to stifle dissent from the dominant order and silence critique of the State. We strongly believe that the provision against sedition, which was repealed in the United Kingdom itself in 2009, has no place in modern democracy. Most immediately, we strongly disapprove of the action of certain lawyers and a Member of the Legislative Assembly who physically attacked JNU students and faculty members as well as journalists outside the Patiala Court House premises on 15th February, 2016.

We fear that the continued State inaction against such instances of violence will foster an environment in which the label “anti-national” or “traitor” can be imposed on every voice of dissent.

We urge that:

  • the JNU campus be restored to normalcy and the police be withdrawn from all parts of the campus.
  • the JNUSU President, Kanhaiya Kumar be released from police custody immediately and all charges be dropped against him.
  • such unconstitutional actions be denounced.
  • we be allowed to nurture our universities as tolerant, democratic spaces where dissent and disagreement is respected, discussions are nurtured, and critical thinkers are born.
Faculty
Ajit Mishra Bhaskar Dutta Malvika Maheshwari
Alex Watson Debarati Roy Mandakini Dubey
Anisha Sharma Durba Chattaraj Maya Saran
Anunaya Chaubey Gilles Verniers Nayanjot Lahiri
Anuradha Saha Gwendolyn Kelly Rajendran Narayanan
Aparajita Dasgupta Jonathan Gil Harris Ratna Menon
Aparna vaidik Kranti Saran Ravindran Sriramachandran
Arunava Sinha Kunal Joshi Saikat Majumdar
Aruni Kashyap M A Ahmad Khan Supriya Nayak
Pulapre Balakrishnan Madhavi Menon Vaiju naravane
Bharat Ramaswami Malabika Sarkar Vishes Kothari
Staff
Adil Shah Kanika Singh Shiv D Sharma
Aniha Brar Karuna Shreya Khedia
Anu Singh Meena S. Wilson Sudarshana Chanda
Anuja Kelkar Mercia Prince Suha Gangopadhyay
Charu Singh Priyanka Kumar Sukanya Banerjee
Chiranjit mahato Sarah Afraz Sushmita Nath
Dr Maaz Bin Bilal Saumya Varma Swarnim Khare
Harshita Tripathi Saurav Goswami Tanita Abraham
Ishan de Souza Sayan Chaudhuri Zehra
Sushmita Samaddar Surya Raman Sandeep Saraswal
Apoorva Gupta Aditya Sarin Chandan Sharma
Alumni
Aafaque R Khan Kaavya Gupta Rishi Iyengar
Akanksha Kande Sruthi Niveditha Ritesh Agarwal
Akshay Barik Kaustubh Khare Rohini Singh
Ananta Seth Maansi Verma Rupali Kapoor
Antony Arul Valan Malini Bose Sai Krishna Kumaraswamy
Anushka Siddiqui Mayank Sharma Sakshi Ghai
Ashish Kumar Mrudula Nujella Shahzaib Ahmed
Ashweetha Neil Maheshwari Shaleen Wadhwana
Avni Ahuja Neelakshi Tewari Shashank Mittal
Chaarvi Badani Nikita Saxena Shivangi Pareek
Danish Ahmad Mir Nina Sud Shrestha Mullick
Debanshu Roy Nipun Arora Shweta Subbaraman
Deepika Ghosh Parushya Simeen Kaleem
Devleena Chatterji Pavithra Srinivasan Simranpreet Oberoi
Dhaneesh Jameson Poornima Sardana Sonal Jain
Dhwani Sabesh Pragya Mukherjee Subhodeep Jash
Hardika Dayalani Prama Neeraja Tanuj Bhojwani
Harsh Mani Tripathi Rahul Sreekumar Taysir Moonim
Harsh Snehanshu Rajat Nayyar Vaishnavi Viraj
Himanshu Ranjan Ratul Chowdhury Venkat Prasath
Jahanara Rabia Raza Rimjhim Roy Vishal Khatri
Chahal Garg Kshiti Gala Hasil Gora
Manasi Khanna Prashant Gautam Onaiza Drabu
Aakriti Tripathi Sanjog Sahu
Students
Aakanksha Jadhav Kaagni Harekal Ranjana Sengupta
Aditi Jain Karthik J N Reetika Kalita
aditi khare Karthik Shankar Rishabh Raghavan
Aditya Prakash Kavya Sindhuja Thatavarthi Rishika Basu Majumdar
Alishya Almeida Kc Sachin Rituparna Nayak
Amalta Gupta Kopal Agarwal Sabah Merchant
Amrita Nanda Laksh Banthia Sahil Grover
Amrita Singh Mahima Kohli sai vikas
Angana Chakrabarti Mahima Sharma Senthil Kumar Gowri Sankar
Anita Rajan Mallika Sridhar Shaurya Oberoi
Anjali Menon Manasi Rao Shivangi Tikekar
Ankita Nanda Manisha Koppala Shranya Gambhir
Anodya Mishra Manjari Sahay Shreya Gautam
Anshula Madhavan Meenal Manolika Shristi Goswami
Anupriya Kukreja Megha Devraj Shubhangi Karia
Anurit Kanti Mohammad Hamza Farooqui Shubhvun Anan Chakravarty
Anwesh Patnaik Mohit Gulati Sidharth Ravi
Apratim De Nainika Dinesh Simoni Jain
Apuroop Sethupathy Nayani Kushal Goyal Simrin Sirur
Arjun Krishnan Niharika Gotety Sneha Visakha
Asawari Luthra Nikita Sreeja Basu
Asees Puri Nishant Kauntia Sri Lakshmi Anumolu
Ashmeen Bains Nishtha Jaiswal Srikant Mohan
Ashwini Ashokkumar Nitish Srivastava Sudhamshu Mitra
Ayan Tandon Padma Gabriella Aradhya Suhasini Patni
Ayesha Pattnaik Palki Bhattacharyya Sukanya Mohanty
Cordis Paldano Phalguni Guliani Suneet Singh Puri
Darshana Devarajan Phurbu Dolma Surjodeb Basu
Devika Chandra Pranav Gupta Swagam Dasgupta
Devika Prakash Pranav Prakash Swasti Acharya
Dhruv Chakraverti Pranay Patil Swetha Soundararajan
Divya Goel Prashant Maheshwary Uday Sarup
Gautham Narayanan Prateek Pillai Udeshi Basu
Gia Singh Arora Priya Rathod Uttara Chaudhuri
Goutam Piduri Priyanka Sethi Varina Rasquinha
Goutham Priyanka Singh Varsha Ramachandran
Govind K Nedungadi Priyavrat Varun Behani
Ira Sen Purvai Aranya Vatsala Peshawaria
Ishani Chaudhary Radhika Sundaresan Vedika Lal
Ishanika Sharma Raghav Chakravarty Vineet Nandkishore
Jahnavi Dutta Rahul Hemrajani Vishnu Sarthak Sinha
Janani Sekar Rahul Maganti Vishnupriya Rajgarhia
Jasmine Kaur Rajashree R Wakif Amin Hussain
John Koshy Rajesh C S Yash Budhwar
Jyothi Ravichandran Rajkamal  Shivani Mangal
Sreya Muthukumar Rohan Sablay

  • NARAYAN RAO

    Wonderful to hear these sane voices also speaking out. Good for you.