Press Release on the JNU incident

Campaign against War on People

On 9th April, 2010, ‘JNU Forum against War on People’ organised a cultural programme titled ‘A Cultural Evening of Protest against Operation Green Hunt’ at Godavari Dhaba in JNU to oppose the sate-military offensive on tribals of Eastern and Central India. The programme included, as its pamphlet clearly states, a play called ‘Sadak’ written by Habib Tanvir, screening of documentary and songs, poetry, performances by students from JNU, Jamia and Delhi University. As soon as the programme started, a group of miscreants led by ABVP and NSUI leaders tried to disrupt the event by shouting slogans and abusing the organisers. Apprehending an attack on the performers, students present in the audience formed a human chain around the stage. However, the ABVP and NSUI hooligans broke this human chain forcefully, physically assaulting and injuring students, to clear their way to the stage. They disconnected the electricity, destroyed audio-visual equipments, vandalised the dais and beat-up anyone, who dared to come on their way. Number of students were injured in this attack and had to be taken to AIIMS for medical help. While ABVP-NSUI-YFE goons went on the rampage, the chief security officer of JNU, who was present at the spot, remained a mute spectator. The next day, when students were protesting against this incident, once again some ABVP-NSUI-YFE miscreants started pelting stones at the protesters and tore down the posters of ‘JNU Forum against War on People’.

In Delhi University we have seen similar attacks by fascist forces on students’ events as well. Two months ago, a mobile book store by ‘Janchetna’ was attacked by ABVP hooligans, where they tore books and damaged the van before students came out in numbers in protection of their own space. It is evident from these incidents that the fascist forces are afraid of any kind of pro people programme. They want to rob our democratic spaces by force. They want to silence any voice, which raises question on people’s misery, state repression and dismantling of democracy.

The JNU administration, instead of taking steps against these lumpens, is trying to propagate all sorts of misinformation about the incident. First, the administration raised the issue of prior permission for holding a meeting, knowing fully well that the cultural programme was hold at a ‘dhaba’ and there is no provision for and precedence of administrative permission for such events. We have experienced similar selective administrative harassment in Delhi University as well. It has become a standard practice of the university administration not to clamp down on the perpetrators of such incident. Instead these incidents have been used as an excuse to snatch away the remaining limited democratic space through official-legal measures. JNU administration has gone a step farther on this occasion by joining the ABVP-BJP-NSUI- YFE chorus of branding the event as an ‘anti-national’ protest. It is perhaps a cruel joke (and indeed a fascist strategy) that the architects of Operation Green Hunt, which has resulted in loss of life and livelihoods of millions of people, are claiming to be ‘patriots’ today!

Worldwide, universities have traditionally been a crucial space for freedom of expression, the exploration of ideas and critical debate. They have always been, and should always be, sites where even the strongest critique of the state can be – in fact, must and should be – made possible. This is an essential character, not just of the university as an institution, but of the democratic principles of the society it exists in. The JNU incident, once again, reveals the systematic way in which the democratic spaces are taken away by a nexus of fascist goons and the university administration.

We, ‘Campaign against War on People’, a community of students and teachers of Delhi University, unequivocally condemn ABVP-NSUI-YFE for the attack. We also condemn the JNU administration for their vicious propaganda campaign and for failing to take steps against the miscreants. We demand the following measures be taken immediately

1) Disciplinary actions must be taken against these goons, who are destroying the democratic fabric of our universities.

2) JNU administration must apologise for their misinformation campaign.

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