STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF FREEDOM OF THOUGHT AND SPEECH AT JAWAHARLAL NEHRU UNIVERSITY, NEW DELHI INDIA
Institutes and centres with dedicated faculty members engaged in teaching and research on India and South Asia in universities in the U.K. are watching with increasing concern the events that are unfolding at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, including the detention and suspension of students.
We see the police action on the JNU campus on February 12 2016 as a direct attack on JNU’s internationally renowned tradition of critical thinking, dissent, scholarship, and debate. We stand beside the international scholars who have signed the 15 February 2016 statement in solidarity with the students, faculty and staff of JNU. We condemn the presence of police on campus and the harassment of students on the basis of their political beliefs. We also note that the recent events at JNU are a further demonstration of the fact that universities have a duty of care to protect their students, following on from the tragic suicide of Rohith Vemula at the University of Hyderabad.
An open, tolerant, and democratic society is inextricably linked to the freedoms of thought and expression cultivated by universities in India and abroad. We have long valued JNU for its critical imagination and critical scholarship, which have been nurtured by the plurality of political beliefs and activism on its campus. We urge the Vice Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University to protect members of the university community and the freedom of expression and democratic dissent which is a hallmark of JNU’s history and reputation globally.
South Asia Institute, SOAS University of London
Centre for South Asian Studies, University of Edinburgh
King’s India Institute, King’s College London
Gender Institute, London School of Economics
Institute of Asia and Pacific Studies, University of Nottingham
Contemporary South Asian Studies Programme, School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies (SIAS), University of Oxford
Centre for South Asian Studies, University of Cambridge
School of International Development, University of East Anglia