The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.
Chetna Kohli, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur
Earlier this month, some students of Jawaharlal University (JNU) in Delhi met to discuss instances of capital punishment and the hanging of Afzal Guru. The meeting turned into a stand off wherein the police arrested the President of the Student’s Union, Kanhaiya Kumar, on charges of sedition. This action represents a new escalation of government meddling that has undermined the authority of institutions of higher education.
What is the real issue here?
This attack on JNU seems to be a part of a bigger right-winged design to impose a single political discourse in higher education institutions. The main issue is the use of state power to silence the dispute. The police had arrested Kumar due to alleged shouting of anti-India slogans but JNUSU (JNU Student’s Union) denied any involvement. It is unclear who shouted the slogans and without ascertaining the facts a political decision was taken based on a television clip, which was later found to be doctored. JNU is famous for its culture of radical disagreement and it seems like this is the reason why the institution was contained to send across the message that any kind of dissent with this government is unwelcome.
What is the bigger picture?
The JNU crackdown is in lines with the hyper-nationalism promoted by the right wing. At a time, when the BJP regime is unable to deliver on the economic front, they are finding ways to create polarization. Anybody and everybody who disagrees with the Modi government is branded ‘anti-national’.
Following the arrest of Kumar, the Modi government is facing huge protests from the left-wing and progressive public opinion by and large throughout the world. It is drawing criticisms from worldwide universities and academicians. This incident intimidates the intellectual, rational and freethinking individual. This incident has set off one the largest nationwide protest by students in the last decade and has received and equally unrelenting response from proponents of the government.
The face-off between the suppression and intellectual freedom will mark the beginning of an important historical change for the country and this government alike.