Over the past ten days, we have watched with increasing concern, a systematic whipping up of passions targeted against student activists of Jawaharlal Nehru University. Six students of the University have been charged with sedition. The Union Home Minister and other ministers of the BJP Government, the Delhi Police Chief, and some of the main television channels have cynically collaborated to portray these students as “terrorists”, agents of Pakistan, anti-nationals, and the worst kind of criminals.
On February 12, JNU student union President Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested for sedition, on totally trumped up charges of shouting anti-national slogans. He was charged with one of the most serious offences on the Indian statute books. A media trial was conducted on the basis of doctored videos, to declare Kanhaiya Kumar and his comrades guilty of working for Pakistan in order to break up India. Provocateurs in the garb of lawyers were organised to brutally attack the student leader, as well as teachers and student activists, and journalists in the Patiala House Court premises while the police watched as mute spectators. All kinds of wild and unsubstantiated allegations were floated to tarnish the image of Kanhaiya Kumar, as well as the other activists the police were hounding down all over the country. The home minister Rajnath Singh tried to link Kanhaiya to the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and a section of the media made wild allegations against Umar Khalid, claiming that he was working for the Jaish-e-Muhammad. From the time it became public knowledge that the video clip purportedly showing Kanhaiya shouting so called anti national slogans was doctored, the ruling establishment and its minions have started targeting Umar Khalid.
A poisonous campaign is going on against the entire university, of harbouring “terrorists” and “anti-nationals” and calls are being given to shut it down. Fear has been put into parents of JNU students to hold them back from joining any protests or sympathising with the cause of students fighting for their right to express their views. The students, teachers and karamcharis of JNU have united in defence of the right to dissent and against fascist terror on campus, cutting across ideological differences and party affiliation. A massive rally was taken out on February 18thin Delhi, which expressed the tremendous resolve of the students to oppose fascist terror. Students around the country and abroad as well as academics, journalists, lawyers, and other working people have expressed their solidarity with the students of JNU through rallies, meetings and demonstrations. Not a day has passed without protests and demonstrations.
This incident closely follows the death of Rohith Vemula who was driven to take his own life, because of false cases foisted on him and his friends by university authorities and the government. Even before Rohith could get justice the ruling establishment has started yet another assault on students in another city.
Is the attack on JNU and its students an isolated incident? It is not. It is a part of the desperate attempt by the ruling elite to terrorise students into submission so that they do not dare to debate on the way forward for a new India. It is a dastardly attempt to shut young minds from developing an alternate vision, for an India without poverty, unemployment, illiteracy and social and national oppression. They are part of a concerted attempt by the ruling elite to keep the people divided and diverted, and push through their program of globalisation through liberalisation and privatisation. The attack on JNU is a part of the conspiracy to destroy state funded educational institutions and privatize higher learning. Both the Congress and BJP have adopted this strategy during their regimes.
Instead of encouraging the youth of our country, our future, to debate on what is the best way forward, those in power have unleashed even more attacks on the students. Students in JNU today fear for their safety and life. Students from Kashmir and north-east have become the target of severe harassment. They fear to go alone on the roads or in an auto-rickshaw because of this vilification campaign. The father of Umar, Dr Ilyas, has said in interviews to the media that he is worried about the safety of his son and family.
The lies and slanders floated by the politicians of the ruling elite, the pernicious vilification campaign carried out by sections of the media, the fascist attacks of the police and agents of the ruling party have revealed that the ruling class of our country is going all out to crush all voices of dissent. The ruling class wants to suppress all those who are trying to organise the people in defence of their human, democratic and national rights.
It is not the students of JNU who are anti-national, but those who are hell bent on harassing them. A regime which targets its own youth with lies, slanders and incarceration can by no stretch of imagination protect the unity of India.
This is one of those crucial moments in history, where one has to decide whether to boldly come forward to defeat these machinations of the powers that be or meekly submit to them.
We appeal to all women and men of conscience:
To demand withdrawal of all cases against students of JNU and put an immediate end to their harassment.
To stand shoulder to shoulder with the younger generation, and give them the courage to fight for human, democratic and national rights.
To demand the repeal of the Sedition Act.
To unite on the principle that “an attack on one is an attack on all”
To demand that those who spread this vilification campaign and caused immense distress to students and their parents be severely punished.
Lok Raj Sangathan
Justice Ajit Singh Bains
Justice H. Suresh
Rajvinder Singh Bains
The Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms
Communist Ghadar Party of India
CPI-ML (New Proletarian)
Dr. S.Q,R. Ilyas, National President, Welfare Party of India
Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR)
Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF)
Indu prakash singh, President, Forum Against Corruption & Threats (FACT)
Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI)
Dr. John Dayal
The Milli Gazette
N.D.Pancholi, President, PUCL (Delhi)
Lenin Raghuvanshi, Founder: Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR)
Ramendra Kumar, Secretary General, Delhi Shramik Sangathan
Damodar, Other Aspect
Harminder Singh, United Sikh Mission
and other organisations, individuals