Let us analyze the situation at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) from the lens of logic rather than “political ideology.”
Let’s start from the beginning and deal with each and every event.
JNU administration passed a draft hostel manual on October 29, 2019, amid the protests of students over the fee hike and 11.30 pm deadline to return to hostels and “appropriate dressing rule” in dining halls. Prof. Umesh Kadam, Dean of students and Chairperson of the hostel committee claimed, “All hostel wardens were present with some student representatives. The meeting went on well, everything has been passed, and now it will be sent to the executive council.” However, students denied his claims and said they were not a part of this meeting. Prof. Kadam also said that his blood pressure shot up due to the “ruckus created by the students” and alleged several students held him “captive” along with his family. The administration even alleged that students stopped the ambulance carrying Prof. Kadam to the hospital.
This triggered a mass protest against fee hike.
Students claim that they made every possible attempt to initiate a conversation with the administration, especially VC but they paid no heed to them. Students kept calling off their classes, protesting, marching towards parliament, MHRD for over 75 days, but their voices weren’t listened by the administration. Instead, lathis and water cannons were charged upon them. After reading all this, you might be thinking that the administration is at fault. If so, then you are partially correct and partially not. This is the narrative we all have been hearing from various media channels that students are being forced to indulge in protests as nobody is hearing their voice.
However, there is another side to this story as well. These students who claim to be protesting in peaceful were actually not. These students held Dr. Vandana Mishra, Associate Dean of Students captive for over 29 hours. Social media is full of photos of her sitting helplessly in a packed classroom full of protesting students. The students were continuously sloganeering and hooting in deafening volume while few of them were also playing the Tambourine. Is this how they do a peaceful protest?
If yes, then I invite you to once come and visit the admin block of JNU. The block which has offices of VC, Registrar and all other important people has been horrifically vandalized. The walls are full of abuses for VC and administration; the floor is full of slogans demanding the resignation of VC. Is this a way of peaceful protest? It’s quite ironic that the students who are protesting for saving public education are themselves destroying public property. Not only the admin block, the statue of Swami Vivekananda which is yet to be inaugurated has also been destroyed by these protesting students. But then they were protesting peacefully.
Now, let us also analyze the case of violence by masked people in JNU. First of all, let me make it very clear that the attack of students by masked people didn’t happen on January 5 as projected by almost every media channel. These masked hooligans have been in the campus since January 2 protesting against the on-going semester registration process. Now, you may be wondering why the students doing peaceful protests would cover their faces. Well, because after VC resumed his office, he ordered disciplinary inquires on the students who were involved in destroying public property. Thus, to avoid this disciplinary action, the agitating students decided to cover their faces. Since, January 3, they have taken over the control of the Information Centre of JNU and have blocked the registration process by destroying the architecture there. These peacefully protesting masked students have also attacked students who came to register for next semester. On January 5, at 4:30 pm, a mob of such masked people brutally attacked students who were registering for the next semester. Then about an hour later, another masked mob of masked goon launched its attack on hostels and vandalized hostels and severely injured teachers and students. Instead of commenting and reaching the conclusion that masked people were ABVP goons or Communist Naxals, it is imperative to know that whatever is happening inside one of the most reputed universities of the nation is nothing more than an ideological war which has taken dirty shape this time.
While condemning such violence in the educational institute, it is also important to talk about the elephant in the room. There were several students trying to register for next semester that was repeatedly blocked and even attacked by these students who didn’t wish to register for next semester. Why should a student who wanted to register for next semester not have the freedom to do so?
One must look at the JNU issue in its totality. It is unfortunate that perhaps the worst suffering group is not the Left or Right but simple students who stood in lines for days now to register against a broken computer system and attacking fellow students.
What was their fault? Just that they wanted to continue their studies into next semester. Don’t these non-political students, whose pure commitment is to their studies, deserve our consideration and sympathies too? My heart goes out to them and surprisingly nobody talks about their plight.
Those who violently prevented fellow students from registering, those who broke computer center which is a national property and those masked people who did the last leg of violence must all be identified and brought to face their misdeeds. No student who wants to continue their registration and studies must be left feeling unsafe. They are our primary responsibility.
(The author is a non-political and distresses student of JNU who wishes to keep her identity anonymous.)