The continued power-police crackdown over the students of UoH has gained a new vigor in recent days. The return of Appa Rao after a long “indefinite leave” to the post of Vice Chancellor sparked the current struggle of students, who have been carrying out their rage and anger against the state operated institutional murder of Rohith Vemula, one of the suspended research scholars. The martyrdom of Rohith lit this spark into wider level of united agitation against various power apparatuses involved in this heinous crime. The so called national media only got aware of this grave concern of students activism only after Rohith. But this awareness had a short time validity, till the glamorous nationalist discourse of “India’s” premier institute, Jawaharlal Nehru University. Here they stand either with jingoistic nationalist propaganda of current regime or with the “idea of JNU”, both in a sense contributed to an awaiting opportunity of the state to divert mass attention from the real issues of social justice and from their own failures to deliver their promises.
The row over JNU was deliberately manufactured by the regime with warm support of mainstream media to make student activism passive which exploded from UoH. The strength of campus political awareness in UoH pointed its finger to the people in power sharply, by speaking the realities and truth about the marginalized sections of society. The major accusation against then suspended research scholars were related with the living experiences of the oppressed majority by the power structures. It was either the offering prayer for the mortal of Yaqub Memon or the screening of documentary Muzaffar Nagar Baqi. He, raised many grave questions against collective conscience of power. The way adopted by the administration to suppress these dissenting voices make evident the deeper level discrimination towards activists of Ambedkar Students Association (ASA). They had been ostracized from every public spaces in the university premises, even from hostel, mess and library. The five research scholars suspended by the administration belonged to Dalit community, who have been facing many hurdles in their higher education from the authority as well as ABVP members. The immediate label given by the guardians collective conscience to these activists was “Anti-nationals”. The same label conferred for JNU students, but the way UoH activists approached to confront this nationalist discourses makes evident the difference in their political conscience about the people of the country from the former.
The whole corporate media were in hibernation during the struggle in UoH in the early days. They were less interested in the students struggle against power, which could have been suppressed by powerful state mechanism. But soon after the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula, these media outlets reached there in fantastic speed, it seemed like they had found a victim and prey in him for their popular narratives and breaking news. Meanwhile the same warriors are still fighting against repressive atrocities from the hands of people in power and these same media mafias have turned a blind eye on them. The students are now suffering an “undeclared emergency” and deprived of lack in necessary facilities as if in a “concentration camp”. At least 36 students and 3 faculties were arrested and still no one knows their whereabouts. Here we must understand the politics in the media rooms and their vested interests. They are now eloquent about coverages of “national” and “international” issues of concern, which can be swallowed easily by the guardians of collective conscience. Now we have the magnified reporting on T20 matches and victory of Indian team in full pages of print media and live updates in Google home page and other social media networks. Still we have concern over the “attack on humanity” in Brussels, meanwhile blatant onslaughts have been carried out by state and non-state actors in every corners of the world. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivers his instant tweets on that “important” matters, but keeps his grave silence over these “irrelevant law and order problems between children of mother India and a Vice Chancellor”.
A significant step that has been taken by the media outlets about students’ struggle is their generous coverage over the visit of Kanhaiya Kumar, JNUSU president. The media welcomed him and revolved around him for flash news. While media published the denial of Kanhaiya’s entry to the campus in forefronts, the students’ agitation went largely overlooked. It seems like the promotion of “national” student leaders is an amicable enterprise for national media, where the fighting student leaders of UoH like Dontha Prashanth and Ramees EK and others are still not worth for a glamorous news. Here we need to ask the double standards in approaching two central universities of the country, one self proclaimed as “National” or “Indian” with “Save JNU” or “The Idea of JNU” and other fell into the category of “South Indian” without any popular outcry. Never happened any lecture series of “nationalism” or “caste discrimination” or any press release from any corner of the world like “Stand with warriors of UoH”. While students of UoH are starving and struggling for day to day affairs, the JNU comrades and Sanghis are alike celebrating Holi in full vigor. The proceeding propaganda of ruling regime wants to make students and intellectuals slaves and followers of their Laputan vision of a nation state. They are too fascinated in the mythical and sensitive matters to divert our attention from the real issues of social justice and democracy. It is high time to rethink about our standpoints in the times of state sponsored oppression and fascism against a large portion of our society.