I have been in solidarity with the #StandWithJNU movement from the start and as happy as I am about comrade Kanhaiya getting bail, his whole “complete faith in the judiciary” statement (along with several other statements) didn’t go down well with me. How can you have ‘full faith in the judiciary’ when the very judiciary continues to fail several millions of our people on a daily basis – those who live on the margins. Those who are militarily occupied. Those who are on the receiving end of state persecution. Those who are constantly under surveillance. Those who get branded as “Maoists” like Prof. Saibaba did (a 90% disabled man in tortuous condition in prison who gets denied bail repeatedly, who gets denied any help in jail for use of toilet or washing, who has developed severe problems in multiple organs, such as his heart, spinal cord, kidney, liver and gall bladder during his year-long stay at the jail). Those who even speak out about it, like Arundhati Roy did, and get issued a ‘contempt notice’. Those Adivasi women who get gang-raped by our security forces in the name of ‘Anti-Naxal Operation’, yet not a single FIR ever gets registered. Those Adivasi women activists, like Soni Sori, who are subjected to gross sexual violence and assault in police custody while officials like Ankit Garg get gallantry awards. Those Dalit women who get raped and assaulted by upper caste men. Those workers who go on strike and find themselves without a job and behind bars.
Those religious minorities, like Muslims, who are witch-hunted and demonized as “terrorists”, whose ‘Indianness’ is forever questioned, who go mysteriously missing, who get shot at in broad daylight and the police, bureaucracy and the Indian state justifies it by saying they got killed in an ‘encounter’, that they were a ‘threat to the Indian state’. Those who get framed, sentenced to death without evidence. Those who get their mercy appeals turned down to satisfy the ‘collective conscience of the people’. Those who have to live with the draconian laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Those whose homelands have virtually been turned into heavily militarized zones and virtual prison houses.
Pretty sure if you asked some of these people, they would tell you that they don’t have much faith in the judiciary (as would many other people).
There is also very little to celebrate about a judgement, as in the case of Delhi High Court that granted bail to Kanhaiya, that uses terms like “amputation”, “infection”, and “gangrene” as ‘cures’ to the ‘problem’ of ‘anti-nationalism’. The judgement in itself should be a cause for worry. The precise words used by the Delhi High Court in its judgement were:
“Whenever some infection is spread in a limb, effort is made to cure the same by giving antibiotics orally and if that does not work, by following second line of treatment. Sometimes it may require surgical intervention also. However, if the infection results in infecting the limb to the extent that it becomes gangrene, amputation is the only treatment.”
Kanhaiya’s statement ‘we want freedom in India, not freedom from India’ is also problematic, especially for those who happen to be some of the most marginalized people on the receiving end of the brutality of the Indian state, from Chhattisgarh to Manipur to Kashmir.
It is also important to note that the judiciary is not divorced from the Indian state or from the idea of this Indian state, not for those, at least, who often have to bear the brunt of this very judiciary. Seen in this light, why would they not aspire towards freedom ‘from’ India?
(Prerna Bakshi is the author of the recently released Burnt Rotis, With Love and has written for The Huffington Post, The Hindu and Deshbandhu among others).