Friday, February 19, 2016

JNU Row Who Shouted Slogans? An Eye Witness Account

New Delhi: The row at the JNU campus in Delhi has left the nation divided as situation in the varsity remains tense. The students' union leader of JNU, Kanhaiya Kumar, was arrested last week on charges of sedition for allegedly participating in an event on the campus to mark the anniversary of the execution of 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, in which anti-India slogans were raised.
Harshit Agarwal, a student from Jawaharlal Nehru University, described what actually happened at the varsity on February 9 through Quora.
"I am a JNU student studying right now and also happen to be a witness from distance for some events that happened on that controversial date - 9th February 2016. So, that kinda renders me more legitimate to answer this question than people who only know about it through Zee News and Times Now," JNU student Harshit Agarwal wrote in response to a Quora question on the issue.

Here is full text of the post:
A lot of answers are here. The only weird thing is not one of them is from a JNU student or who witnessed what happened on that controversial day and yet everyone has such strong opinions about the whole incident from people calling everyone studying in JNU as terrorists, jihadis and naxals to asking for the university to be completely shutdown!
I am a JNU student studying right now and also happen to be a witness from distance for some events that happened on that controversial date - 9th February 2016. So, that kinda renders me more legitimate to answer this question than people who only know about it through Zee News and Times Now.
On 9th February 2016, ex-members of a student organization DSU, short for 'Democratic Students Union' had called for a cultural meeting of a protest against what they called 'the judicial killing of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat' and in solidarity with 'the struggle of Kashmiri people for their democratic right to self-determination.' A lot of Kashmiri students from inside and outside the campus were to attend the event.
'Democratic Students Union(DSU)' is an ultra-leftist group in the campus that believes in the ideology of Maoism. It's a very small group of very well read students. They are not terrorists or naxals by any means. I have been in the campus for more than 2 years and never have I witnessed or heard of them committing a terror activity as much as of throwing a stone, let alone overthrowing the state!
Now, first things first.
Did they do something wrong in organizing a meeting over the issue of Kashmir? Is the issue of Kashmir so sacred to us and our brains so brainwashed with the idea of nazi-like nationalism that we are not even ready to hear about the issue of Kashmir from Kashmiris themselves?
Do I support the secession of Kashmir from India? No.
I am not even aware of the exact nuances of the political matter, but I am ready to hear, learn and debate all sorts of opinions, especially from the inhabitants themselves.
Now, did the organizers of the meeting do something wrong in calling Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat's execution 'judicial murder'? And was it the first time somebody raised an objection on capital punishment and the judgement of a court?
After Afzal Guru was hanged, a lot of human rights group condemned the hanging. The political party PDP with whom BJP has formed a government in Jammu and Kashmir itself called Afzal's hanging 'travesty of justice'. Arundhati Roy condemned it. Shashi Tharoor called it wrong. Markandey Katju has severely criticized it.
Praveen Swami, Indian journalist, analyst and author specialising on international strategic and security issues wrote in The Hindu, "The Supreme Court’s word is not, and ought not to be, the final word. Indeed, the deep ambiguities that surround Guru’s case are in themselves compelling argument to rethink the death penalty."
Former Delhi High Court chief justice, Justice AP Shah, said that the hanging of Afzal Guru and Yakub Memon were politically motivated.
Now were all these people anti-nationals, terrorists, jihadis?
I have faith in your wisdom to answer that.
Now coming to next issue - the shouting of 'anti-national slogans'.

Now 20 minutes before the meeting was going to start, ABVP, who consider themselves to be the sole harbingers of nationalism, wrote to the administration asking it to withdraw the permission of organizing the meeting as it was 'harmful for campus' atmosphere'. The administration, feeling afraid of clashes, denied the permission. Now, for those who do not know, JNU is a beautiful democratic space where all voices are heard, all opinions however radical, respected. And ABVP was scuttling that space.
DSU asked for help from JNUSU (Jawaharlal Nehru Students' Union) and other left student organizations like SFI(Students Federation of India), and AISA(All India Students Association) to gather in support of their right to democratically and peacefully hold meeting and mind you, NOT in support of their ideology or their stand on Kashmir. DSU, JNUSU, and other student organizations decided they would not let the administration and the ABVP scuttle their hard-earned democratic space to debate and discuss, and decided to go ahead with the meeting.
The administration sent security guards to cover the badminton court where the meeting was supposed to happen, and denied the permission to use mics. The organizers agreed.
They decided they would continue the meeting around the dhaba itself and without the mics. However, the ABVP mobilized its cadres and started threatening and intimidating the students and organizers. They started shouting cliched slogans like 'Ye Kashmir Hamara hai, saara ka saara hai.'
The organizers as a response to them, and to create solidarity among the students attending the meeting started shouting, "Hum kya chaahte? Azaadi!"
Do you think there was something highly inflammatory  and dangerous in this statement? Think about it. Nations break all the time. We were chanting the same slogan under Britishers. Soviet Union disintegrated. Secession is neither good nor bad. It depends on the precise circumstances of the region. And mind you, I don't support the secession of Kashmir. I claim to have insufficient knowledge of the situation and conditions of the people residing in that region. Hence, I am neither for nor against it. Hence, I have no problems with a group of students simply shouting slogans in support of a particular region's freedom. They were not planning a conspiracy to overthrow the government and seize Kashmir from India. They were simple students who read, travel and learn about socio-political issues and have a stand about it.
Next slogan - "Tum kitne Afzal maaroge, har ghar se Afzal niklega!"
Now, I did not study the case closely, and hence, would believe in the courts of India and therefore, I believe Afzal Guru was a terrorist. Though principally I am against capital punishment.
However, this group of students believed that he did not deserve capital punishment and also have their skepticism about his involvement in the parliamentary attack. I am picking up this from wikipedia -
"It has to be noted, that in its judgement of 5 August 2005, the supreme court admitted that the evidence against Guru was only circumstantial, and that there was no evidence that he belonged to any terrorist group or organisation."
And this directly from the Supreme Court judgement:
"The incident, which resulted in heavy casualties, had shaken the entire nation and the collective conscience of the society will only be satisfied if the capital punishment is awarded to the offender."
So, a group of students believe that Afzal Guru was framed, had no role in the attack on the parliament and his capital punishment was wrong. Big deal?
And were therefore shouting, "Har ghar se Afzal niklega!"
And mind you, these people are not carrying any arms, all they are carrying are ideas.
So, in such a case, what should the state do? Charge them for conspiracy against the state? Or maybe merely try to engage with them, debate with them about a difference of opinion?

And was this some secretly organized meeting about overthrowing the government smuggling in bombs and grenades? No, this was a public meeting. Everyone was invited. You were free to disagree with them. They are not doing it in hiding. If they were terrorists they would not come out in public! But didn't you see them all at your TV channels courageously defending themselves and their right to have a difference of opinion? Tell me, which traits of terrorists do you find in them?
Now, I'll come to the most controversial part - the slogans against India.
In the meeting, there was a whole group of Kashmiri students which had come from outside JNU to attend the meeting. If you would even look closely at the video that is being circulated, you will only see these students who had formed a circle in the center of the gathering. And trust me ,not one of whom was from JNU! I was present during the event for some time, and I could not recognize a single face from that group as being from JNU.
This group of students, who belonged to Kashmir, and had faced the wrath of the AFSPA for decades, were angered to see ABVP disrupt their meeting, and started shouting the slogans against India, like:
"Bharat ki barbaadi tak, jung rahegi, jung rahegi!"
"India, Go Back"
In my almost 2.5 years of stay in JNU, I have never heard these slogans shouted anywhere. These are nowhere even close to the ideology of any left parties, let alone DSU.
To make things clearer, here is what a Kashmiri student who is not a JNU student and who was not present in the meeting, has written about the slogans on his facebook wall, after hearing them on Youtube:
Let me do the “DECONSTRUCTION” not Derridian but ‘Kashmiri deconstruction’ of the slogans that have become so controversial.
Bharat for a Kashmiri young men and women who were born in 1990s and after means Indian Military Establishment. The representative image of Indian state is always, Men-in-uniform-with-weapons.
BARBADI is used in the same lexicon as it’s used by different organizations in India. It means end to the military occupation of Kashmir.
JANG means struggle, whether peaceful, Gandhian, Marxian, Gramscian or violent depends on your interpretation of the word.
I hope it leads to some clarity. Anyways it might be a ‘fringe’ slogan in spaces like JNU but it’s a ‘mass’ slogan in Kashmir.
2. AZADI: The word AZADI, which is the most confusing word for ‘Indians’. Let me simplify it for you. It’s not a seditious slogan nor is it secessionist. AZADI as a slogan is historically, socially, culturally, conceptually and principally rooted in the principle of Right to Self Determination of people belonging to a region occupied by two nation-states identified as Kashmir.
Let me add more, Azadi is a synonym of Resistance and has a very deep aspirational value attached to it."

About the slogans of 'Pakistan Zindabad', it is disputed. I did not hear any such slogan while I was present there. There is a slogan in a video, but it's not clear as to who shouted it - the Kashmiri students or the ABVP as a conspiracy, as this video below explains:
Now, that it's been clear that no JNU student was involved in shouting anti-India slogans, let's come to the way the government responded to this:
The police on the orders of Home Minister Rajnath Singh raid our univeristy and then hostels. They pick up the JNUSU President from within the campus with no substantial evidence and the court remands him for a 3 day police custody. He did not shout the slogans. He is a member of the All India Students Federation(AISF) which is the student wing of the Communist Party of India(CPI) which has no Maoist or secessionist ideology and is the mildest of all left parties.
Yesterday too, seven more students were picked up by the police from the campus.
I say, if you are hell bent on arresting, arrest those Kashmiri students at the most. But ruthlessly witch-hunting students is outrageous and clearly not what you would expect from a democratic government!
And finally, I am going to touch a raw nerve here, but I think it's become important that someone does -
"Why are we so volatile regarding our ideas of nationalism? Why do we treat it like religion? Somebody shouts few slogans and it becomes absolute blasphemy! A university is a place for debate, discussion and dissent! Slogans should be answered by slogans, and not by sedition charges!"
Elaborating on this, I would like to quote the first prime minister of India 'Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, whose name the university bears:
"A University stands for humanism. For tolerance, for reason, for the adventure of ideas and for the search of truth. It stands for the onward march of the human race towards ever higher objectives. If the Universities discharge their duties adequately, then it is well with the Nation and the People."
At such a crucial time, when JNU is facing all kinds of fabricated lies and flak from media, I would urge all of you to stand with JNU. It is one of a kind of university and it's absolutely beautiful, both in it's spirit and geography.
I urge you all to visit my university sometime. It welcomes everyone, accommodates everyone...:)
Disclaimer: The opinion expressed in the article are those of the author.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016



JNU row was clearly anti-national as several videos in circulation and with police demonstrate this. The loud slogans were i) anti-Indian ( bharat tere tukde honge, insha allah, insha allah/India will go into pieces, God willing, God's willing; jung rahegi Kashmiri azadi tak, Bharat ki barbadi tak/fight/war will continue till Kashmir is freed and India destroyed; India murdabad, maovad jindabad/India down down, long live Maoism; India go back, India go back) ) and ii) pro-Afzal Guru ( Afzal hum sharminda hain, tere katil jinda hain/Afzal we are ashamed that your killers still alive; Afzal tum hamare armanoko manzil tak pahuchavoge/Afzal, you will take us to the fulfilment of our dreams/of Kashmir freedom;  naara e takdir - Allah hu Akbar/say loud Allah hu Akbar ). 

The slogan shouting chorus occurred in a JNU Student Union gathering in the campus, having obtained sanction from authorities for it as for 'cultural' event but in actual fact it was to screen a pro-Afzal film. At the very centre of the event is the president of the Student Union Kanaihya Kumar and the organiser Umar Khalid. If it were for the cultural evening or academic discussion even on Afzal Guru, there could not and should not be any objection as University campus must vibrate with debate and discussion on diverse matter with diverse opinion. Any outside intervention against it including the entry of police is certainly an interference in the autonomy of the University. When it turns out to be a chorus of vigorous  slogan shouting with hateful speeches and mannerisms, it amounts to incitement of hatred which may even turn into violence and hence it is highly objectionable.

Soon, the politicians took over, Congress and Communist in particular. Rahul Gandhi visiting them is indeed politics of the worse kind. After all, it was the Congress government that was in power when Afzal Guru was hanged, the cabinet would have recommended to the presidential pardon, having failed to do so, he now comes in support of pro-Afzal group. 

 Pro-Afzal group say the death of Afzal is a 'Judicial killing' as they feel that there was no evidence that deserved hanging and in fact the Judgement says it too and yet the sentence has to be passed on the basis that the 'collective conscience of the society will only be satisfied if the capital punishment is awarded' which according to this group is extra judicial. Yet, who is this Afzal Guru? A man allegedly involved, nay a mastermind, in the terrorist attack on our Parliament House when the session is in full swing there which killed ten of our own security men. Any person who may even remotely connected to such a  heinous crime deserves severest punishment. After all no one commits such acts providing full evidence to catch him! He is also a 'Separatist' wanting Kashmir separated from India. 

Is there any other reasons to be pro Afzal? Is he an extraordinary person indulging in people welfare activity? Great writer, artist, scientist? If so, one may find some justification in saving him even though he is connected with the terrorist attack. I always remember this case of Jean Genet (1910-1986 ), a French Novelist, Playwright, Poet, Essayist, Political activist and who was also a convicted criminal, homosexual of that time and sexual pervert. Life sentence was levied on him after ten convictions in 1949. It was J P Sartre, the great philosopher, novelist and writer and P Picasso, a great Artist and other eminent men in France successfully petitioned French President Charles de Gaulle to have sentence set aside because although Genet was a worse criminal, he was also a great creative person and the society should not lose him. In fact, Sartre wrote a biography of Genet and titles the book as Saint Genet (1952). Is Afzal Guru anywhere near that?

I know for some so called elite in India denigrating or making a ridicule of anything Indian is a fad or fashion. Some years ago, a group of celebrities from Bollywood in a party hosted by Dawood in Dubai sang and danced making fun of our National Anthem. Of course the then Congress Government both at  the state of Bombay and Central Government was unmindful of it, did not take any action. However, what has now happened in JNU is a much more serious matter cutting at the very root of unity and sovereignty of the Country. It is backed by their own philosophy and dogma.  JNU professors too coming on TV and marching within the campus supporting pro-Afzal activity as freedom of expression shows how deep is the malady there.  Any divisive forces including the terrorist operating within the country must be dealt with severely and soon. Further, steps must be taken more vigorously to harness global support to act against terrorist and the countries harbouring terrorism.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Glasses, Watches and the Weightlessness!

Glasses, Watches and the Weightlessness!
Our CM wears diamond studded watch worth Rs. 70 lakhs, also wears a gold studded watch, has cooling glasses worth Rs.1.5 lakhs and all these weight must have caused a heavily tilted balance, avowedly to the left side, leaving the right side of the balance high and dry. No wonder, this lop sided weight made one of our former CM of the present CM party a remark that the latter's cabinet has weightless ministers. Yes, weightlessness on the right side caused by heavy tilt to the left side by heavily prized goods! Perhaps, only people can set the balance right and even, but have to wait for it quite long!