Pratirodh- a booklet published by Navaraun, Delhi contains Hindi translation oor original statements/letters of writers who have returned different awards since 4th September 2015 against most vicious social atmosphere created by present Government to fulfil RSS agenda of creating Hindu Rashtra and oppressing all other diverse voices. My letter is also included with little errors like Nayantara Sehgal is not Bhatitji of Nehru but Bhanji, daughter of his sister, he had no brother!
27 February, 2016
To protest against attack on JNU,the best academic institution of the country and one of the best in world,As an alumnus and retired faculty member from JNU,I am returning MHRD award given to me by Former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee,with then MHRD minister Dr. M M Joshi on 30th April 2003 for year 2000-01.
Since Central HINDI Directorate office declined to accept award cheque and memento, I am sending it through courier service directly to MHRD at Shastri Bhavan
Professor Chaman Lal (Retired) Dated: — 20th February
Professor& Former Chairperson
Centre of Indian Languages (SLL&CS)
Former Visiting Professor, The University of the West Indies, Trinidad Tobago
Former President JNUTA
Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi-110067
Shastri Bhavan New Delhi via
Central Hindi Directorate,
Subject: Return of 2000-01 ‘Non Hindi speaking area Hindi writer Award’
I have no idea who is heading the Directorate these days, so am addressing this letter unnamed.
You can see from your records that I was given the ‘Non Hindi speaking area Hindi writer Award’ on 30th April 2003 by the then Prime Minister, Sh. Atal Behari Vajpayee. The then MHRD minister Dr. M M Joshi had presided over the function. I am attaching some photographs of the event for your convenience.
This award was given to me for my translation of selected poetry of Punjabi poet Surjit Patar – ‘Kabhi Nahin Socha Tha’ – in Hindi from my mother tongue Punjabi. Incidentally Surjit Patar returned his Sahitya Akademi award along with other 12 Punjabi writers last October to protest against the assassination of Dr. M M Kalburgi.
This was my first state award. Later, I was awarded the ‘Sahitya Akademi Prize for Translation’ for the year 2001 for the translation of the Punjabi poet Pash in Hindi (Pash was assassinated by Khalistanis) and the ‘Punjab State ‘Shiromani Hindi Sahitkar’ Award for year 2003, apart from innumerable honors from public institutions in India and abroad.
With the social conditions in the country worsening day by day the assassination of Dr. M M Kalburgi, Sahitya Akademi award winner, by some extremist religious body activists led many of our writers to protest by returning their state awards, especially Sahitya Akademi awards. I also joined my fellow writers in solidarity and returned my prize on 12th October 2015. Incidentally, all three awards came to me during the NDA regime in the centre -1999-2004. These awards were returned because of the atmosphere of extreme intolerance created in country after 2014, in the name of ‘Cow’, ‘beef’, ‘nationalism’ etc. Govind Pansare and Dr. Narender Dabholkar and many more had already become victims of these extremist religious groups, as was Punjabi Poet Pash in 1988 at the hands of Khalistani terrorists. No effort was made to check and control these elements, rather many ruling party MP’s were aggravating the crisis by supporting these elements, which included glorification of Mahatma Gandhi’s murderer, Nathuram Godse.
Incidentally Mahatma Gandhi may be dubbed as the ‘first anti national’ of independent India, as he fasted for releasing 55 crore rupees due to newly created state of Pakistan, with the partition of India in 1947. In fact, slogans now being heard on Delhi roads – ‘Desh Ke Gaddaron ko goli maro’(Shoot the traitors of the country) against JNU students these days were raised against Mahatma Gandhi in those days and ultimately he was assassinated by those who were inciting people with these slogans. Ironically Mahatma Gandhi had not joined the celebrations of independence in Delhi on 15th August, as he was fasting in Noakhali with his loyal followers like Bibi Amtus Salam to control the devil of communal riots. Mahatma Gandhi who at one time wished to live for 125 years, expressed his wish at that time ‘not to live anymore’ after seeing the level of communal clashes in country. The assassin of Gandhi is a hero of today’s Hindutva forces, patronized by this government despite paying lip service to Gandhi.
We hundred plus awards returning writers/artists/filmmakers and other citizens were hoping that things will improve after our protest, but our hopes proved illusory. Not only were we derided and insulted, including 88-90 years old respected writers/scientists-Krishna Sobti, Nayantara Sehgal and P M Bhargava, we were charged with being Congress agents, favourites and leftists, who got undue awards during previous regimes and were now ‘intolerant’ of new the government. In my case, if at all I was ‘favoured’, it was not during the Congress regime, but the previous NDA regime.
In October 2015, JNU and other university students started #OccupyUGC campaign which was dealt with by a rather heavy hand and then Central University of Hyderabad students started an agitation against discrimination of Dalit students, which were dealt so harshly that one of the brightest research scholars of the University, Rohith Vemula was forced to commit suicide on 17th January 2016. Support for Rohith Vemula engulfed the whole country. Earlier, FTII Pune students were being treated very harshly. In this connection, when after a function in Jawaharlal Nehru University was held on 9th February, about which some controversy arose, JNU Students Union’s elected President Kanhaiya Kumar was picked up by the Delhi police and charged with Sedition! This naturally led to a massive student protest not only in JNU, but all over the country and JNU Teachers Association (JNUTA) also extended its support. To make the things worse, irresponsible statements were given by Home Minister, MHRD Minister and Delhi police chief, which led to brutal attacks on not only Kanhaiya Kumar inside the court, but on media men also by some black coat wearing goons. Most dangerous was the open violation of Supreme Court’s directions and mistreatment of six lawyers sent by Supreme Court by certain black coated hooligans inside the court. This has never happened even during British colonial regime. Bhagat Singh was beaten inside the court by British police, but never by unruly hooligans with police patronization.
Even in JNU history, such horrible police interference never took place. I myself have been victim of emergency, spending seven months in prison and getting my admission to JNU delayed for two years, despite being selected. Yet I can say today that despite Indira Gandhi’s authoritarianism, she was correct in her understanding of certain Hindutva groups, as was her father,Jawaharlal Nehru. These groups collaborated with British colonialism during the freedom struggle and played the game of dividing Indian national unity by creating communal rifts, which was criticized by none else than Bhagat Singh. These are the people who have now come to power by deceiving people with deceptive slogans and playing the same colonial days game of dividing people and creating communal violence, just to acquire and preserve power.
The most ominous sign of their dangerous game is of involving army people and inciting their families in the name of ‘nationalism’ and pitting them against JNU. Worse still people not related to JNU were incited by BJP MP Sadhvi Prachi and they entered the University with the University officials’ shameful collaboration and tried to terrorize the JNU community. At least Jadavpur University faculty and students foiled such attempt by ABVP directly patronized by MHRD minister, which has already caused the suicide of Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad, by making a massive human chain at the University gate. I am afraid that with the kind of head hunting going on for JNU students, if another tragedy like that of Rohith Vemula occurred, I shudder to think of its reaction all over the country.
I have not only retired as Professor from JNU, I have been JNUTA President during year 2007, I am also a JNU alumnus, remaining a student during 1977-82 and getting my PhD degree from this University. It was but natural that I got disturbed, upset and anxious at the happenings in JNU and outside, vilifying my ‘alma mater’ in the worst manner. Further, the MHRD minister’s own conduct during the Rohith Vemula movement and during the attack on JNU has been most vindictive towards the University. She was having a grouse against the students of JNU due to their #OccupyUGC and #StandWithRohith movements, which has embarrassed her own self and her government throughout the world. She could not attack JNU, during the term of outgoing VC Prof. S K Sopory, who never allowed police to enter campus and dealt with such problems, even like the present one of alleged ‘anti national’ sloganeering, at the University level itself. That is why the whole University – students, faculty and staff – supported him for his democratic and dedicated administrative conduct.
The MHRD minister was itching for revenge so she got a new VC of her choice, pliant to her whims and within two weeks of his taking over, he allowed police to enter campus, on the basis of a controversial video complaint filed with Delhi police, without even any preliminary enquiry at University level. He violated even the JNU standard procedures of taking into confidence Deans and Chairpersons of Schools/centers. Four senior Deans protested on his allowing the police in campus and they joined the JNUTA call for solidarity with JNUSU.
In a similar situation at Jadavpur University, the Vice Chancellor categorically declared that he would not file any complaint with the police nor allow police to enter campus and settle the issue at university level. He rather stood with the Jadavpur faculty and students in a human chain to stop anti-social elements entering the campus. In contrast, JNU VC allowed the police with open arms, following the example of his ideal Hyderabad University VC, Appa Rao. In fact, sending police inside JNU campus on the basis of a suspicious video of a discredited news channel, directly interfered with the autonomy of the university. The JNU administration could have dealt with this problem using JNU’s internal mechanism without creating a national crisis. It seems the Central government was rather keen to create this crisis and they did it through their pliant new VC.
Under such circumstances, my conscience has been pricking me since the arrest of the JNUSU President and I can no more bear the burden on my conscience. I am thus returning the award given to me directly from MHRD with the signature of then MHRD Minister Dr. M M Joshi, since the Central Hindi Directorate is a branch of higher education section of MHRD. When the MHRD with the Govt. of India’s express wish, is bent upon destroying my alma mater JNU, which is considered the best University of the country and which is appreciated by world renowned scholars like Noam Chomsky, Nobel prize winning writer Orhan Pamuk and innumerable scholars from hundreds of Universities from India and abroad, then the least I can do is to record my protest by returning the award, which was given to me by MHRD itself 15 years ago, by the same NDA govt., which is in power today!
I shall hand over the plaque and a cheque of fifty thousand rupees given to me as part of the award to your office . I understand, you have no role in all this tragic happenings in JNU, but I request you to forward my letter and cheque to the MHRD, so that my protest is registered in records of MHRD. Since the procedure of award is through your office, I am submitting my award back to your office for necessary action of either forwarding or dealing with it at your own level.
I also know full well that by returning the award, I am again putting myself to danger of a vendetta at the hands of MHRD minister and this government, which is known for not showing any respect to even Vice Chancellors of the Universities. Thus I will be sending copies of my letter to the President of India and the Chief Justice of India, so that if anything happens to my life or limb, because of my protest against the attack on JNU, this government shall be held responsible.
Returning state awards and honours form is considered the most decent form of protest the world over and people are respected for it, even by those in power. Yet during the return of my first award, I have been subjected to all kinds of indignities on television and on social media by trolls. This happened despite the fact that out of my fifty plus books in Hindi, Punjabi and English, some translated into Urdu, Marathi, Bengali, Telugu, Gujarati etc, nearly fifteen books are related to Bhagat Singh and other revolutionary freedom fighters. But my ‘nationalism’ is under question under this government, which has no record to show of its ‘nationalism’ by way of any role in freedom struggle of its party or its ancestors! I have my own ‘Nationalism’, based on Bhagat Singh’s ideas of exploitation free Socialist India, further based on Gandhi’s nationalism of ‘Communal Harmony’, Nehru’s nationalism of ‘Scientific Temper and Knowledge’, Ambedkar’s nationalism of ‘Social Justice/equal rights/status/dignity for Dalits/Adivasis’, Subhas Bose’s nationalism of ‘Socialist India, all of whom have fought for the freedom of this ‘Nation’ from British colonialism. I certainly disapprove the so called ‘Nationalism’ of RSS/Hindutva thinkers like Golwalkar and Savarkar, who either did not participate in the freedom struggle or abjectly apologized ample times, of ‘Communal Divide and violence against minorities/Dalits’, leading to one BJP MLA in Rajasthan having the audacity to demand Rahul Gandhi ‘be shot dead/hanged for treason’! And another BJP leader asking for ‘beheading him and putting his head at JNU gate’! I don’t think that there is any difference between ISIS statements and actions in their Caliphate in Syria-Iraq, and these statements if not yet turned into action!
I may disagree with Rahul Gandhi’s politics, but his great great grandfather Motilal Nehru, his great-grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru, his great grand aunti-uncle-Vijaylakshmi Pandit/Ranjit Pandit, his grandmother Indira Gandhi- all suffered imprisonment during the freedom struggle in contrast with these ‘phony nationalists’! So much for their zeal to kill people in the name of their own concept of ‘nationalism’, which means subjecting citizens to their narrow and sectarian religious kind of nationalism, which has no place for secular enlightened knowledge based scientific temper, so dear to Jawaharlal Nehru, on whose name JNU was established and which is being destroyed by present dispensation by all means, as already Nehru Memorial Museum and Library(NMML), National Book Trust(NBT), and ICHR have been destroyed by anti-knowledge ministers of HRD and Culture! Yet, like thousands of JNU alumnus, present faculty and students, I #StandWithJNU and am ready to pay whatever price this government wants me to pay, even getting killed by some of their patronized ‘nationalists’!
Winner of 2000-01 award for Non Hindi speaking area Hindi writer
mandal· 2 weeks ago
Respected Professor Chaman Lal, your scholarship is reflected in your letter. You run the risk of being branded as “the other”. Your nationalism is inclusive. They want nationalism to be defined after excluding “the other”.
I share your sentiment but what can we do!
[Following is a slightly shortened version of a letter written by Prof Chaman Lal (Rtd) to VC JNU, Prof M Jagdeesh Kumar against the backdrop of February 9 incident]
JNU, New Delhi
Dear Prof M Jagdeesh Kumar
Late greetings on your taking over as Vice-Chancellor of JNU. I saw one of your interviews in The Navbharat Times (Hindi daily), when your appointment was announced, but you have not yet taken over. Interview was reassuring which mentioned your desire to have very open and frank relations with students without any ideological bias. You had also fixed half day of Monday, post Lunch period, completely free for students to approach you. Although it was said that it is for the first time, but this was done five years ago by your predecessor Prof S K Sopory, who not only kept this time free for students, who would rather meet any student or faculty without any prior appointment during 8 am to 9 am or 5.30 pm to 8 pm, as he used to his office diligently from 8 am to 8 pm.
But within two weeks of your taking over as Vice-Chancellor of JNU, University has been plunged into an unprecedented crisis over an event, which was not very unusual in JNU or any other University. Young students all over the world in liberal Universities learn the lessons of their democratic and civil rights, express concerns for social or national/international issues, best example being of USA, where in many Universities, during US aggression on Vietnam, or even recently, US policies in middle east of exporting ‘democracy’, causing the disasters in Arab world or elsewhere had attracted US students’ wrath against their government, but none of them was arrested, charged with ‘sedition’ or termed ‘anti-national’, which happened in JNU and outside after 9th February meeting called by some student groups, but not by elected JNU Students Union, whose office bearers joined in it as it being called ‘Cultural evening’, also as part of social gathering, quite usual for JNU.
However it was intriguing to know that a Hindi news channel had taken extra-ordinary interest not only for JNU event, but outside JNU also to gather people at a particular place and sent camera teams in advance. It looks like that there was advance planning of certain vested social groups and media house to ‘create’ an event, which could engulf not only JNU, but whole country in crisis. I have heard from people in some places that they were even ‘informed’ by this media house to ‘reach’ at certain place for some ‘event’! It reminds me of an incident in Patiala about a decade back, where perhaps the same channel caused the death of a man calling for self-immolation, it incited him to do so for his show and the man literally got burnt in front of whole world, just to increase the TRP of such a dehumanized channel. It is further intriguing that despite having such events in JNU earlier and dealt with JNU internal disciplinary mechanism, the so-called video of that particular news channel was used to file a police complaint through the MP of a political party, incidentally that MP probably has not even won from JNU electoral area. In such a complex situation, it was no obligation of the University to allow Delhi police to enter campus, particularly, when it has appointed its own committee to enquire the matter. Allowing police entry into campus by your authority, as per Police version, though you had said that ‘you did not call the police’ in campus, was a disaster to say the least. You had assured Deans and Chairpersons meeting about this and no wonder that four senior Deans of largest Schools of University, even expressed their dismay at such development. And arrest of JNUSU elected President Kanhaiya Kumar on 12th February by Delhi police was the most shocking outcome of this charged atmosphere, which certainly upset me and I felt disturbed and anxious. Immediately as again seemingly pre-planned, some television channels staged vicious anti-JNU propaganda, which was followed by calls to ‘kill gaddars (traitors) of JNU’. Apart from JNU students, JNU faculty was subjected to insults, abuses. One Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Sadhvi Prachi took hundreds of outsiders, who had no concern with JNU or education in general, entered JNU through its eastgate near your residence and I am ashamed to say as per media reports, JNU administration facilitated their march inside the campus, which was meant to terrorize JNU community—students and faculty, as the slogans and speeches of that march were vicious. Even as eminent Supreme Court advocate Rajeev Dhavan, sent by Supreme Court officially to Patiala Court to report about the conduct of Patiala court lawyers, described those lawyers’ lawless conduct as ‘anti-national’ who beat up not only JNUSU President inside the court, but media and JNU faculty members too! I shudder to think that if anything had happened or may happen to Kanhaiya Kumar, who looks like in the custody of ‘wolves’ and not in the law enforcing/abiding/defending agency! I am surprised that as a guardian of Kanhaiya Kumar, as you are expected to be as VC of University, you did not utter a word on those state protected lawyers’ attack on Kanhaiya Kumar! National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Supreme Court senior most lawyers and jurists like Soli Sorabji, Fali S Nariman could condemn and express their concern about Kanhaiya Kumar, but knowing fully well that he was not safe in police custody, even inside the court, you did not find it even necessary to visit him in Police station or court or jail! Even during the trial of Bhagat Singh during British colonial rule, nationalist leaders like Subhas Bose, Motilal Nehru or even Jawaharlal Nehru, on whose named University, you are Vice-Chancellor, would visit court room or jail to see how these revolutionary freedom fighters were treated. Sir, as a Vice-Chancellor, it was your duty as head of the institution to visit Kanhaiya Kumar, whatever may have been charges against him, but he was elected President of JNUSU. You could have taken along JNUTA President/office bearers/Dean of his School/Chairperson of his centre/his supervisor, if you had an iota of concern for students of JNU, as you expressed in your interview to media before taking over VC job at JNU.
JNU is not only known for scholarship and democratic culture of its faculty and students, even many of its Vice-Chancellors are like bright stars, when many VC’s of many other universities have been slipping over the autonomy of Universities, JNU VCs with support from faculty and students defended its autonomy like the pearl of their eye. Start from its founding Vice-Chancellor G Parthasarthy, despite being non-academician, he established such standards of academic and democratic conduct in JNU, that it has become very difficult to break away from it. He would attend general body meetings of teachers and students and listen even to his own criticism patiently. He never compromised with merit in recruitments, if JNU takes pride world over for its scholarship today, it is due to the foundations laid by G Parthasarthy, who recruited or invited such faculty in the very beginning, and that it got such international reputation. World renowned iconic scholar Noam Chomsky, one of most significant writers of any language and Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk are among those hundreds of scholars from India and abroad, including from your parent body IIT Delhi, who have expressed concern at happenings in JNU, due to outside political interference, particularly of Delhi police at the bidding of Home minister and MHRD minister and I am sorry to say Mr Vice-Chancellor that you helped their game to vilify and destroy JNU. Look at the statements of Dr Subramaniam Swamy, Chandan Mitra, most influential members of ruling party, calling for closure of University, calling for changing its name. It is very clear that ruling dispensation is not only against JNU, they have a pathetic hatred for Jawaharlal Nehru, first Prime Minister of India, who spent more than a decade in British jails in freedom struggle and whose motto for JNU—’Scientific Temper and knowledge’ is an anathema to this government, because Nehru thought RSS like organizations to be the threat to the unity of the country. Incidentally as per The Hindu report, Noam Chomsky has sent a direct mail to you as well. Chomsky’s e-mail is self-revealing : “Many of us remain very concerned about the crisis in JNU, which was apparently created and precepitated by the government and university administration with no crodible evidence of any seditious activities on campus”.
JNU had Vice-Chancellors like late President K R Narayanan, who is credited with saving JNU from this government’s earlier avtar, by not appointing their desired VC as Visitor. President Narayanan was the gentlest Vice-Chancellor of this University, though for a brief period. JNU had late Prof Naiduamma, a Scientist from your fraternity as VC, whose conduct you can see from one of JNU’s eminent historian Prof Harbans Mukhiya’s interview in ‘The Scroll Today’ (February 21).
Later on Prof Y K Alagh, who rather than suppressing any dissent on campus, would himself on Dharna to express his viewpoint and on recent crisis, he said, he would never have called police to campus. See your immediate predecessor Prof S K Sopory who never ever allowed police to enter campus in his glorious five-year-term. He was a Kashmiri Pandit himself, but did not have any prejudices against any particular community of Kashmir, he could rationally handle the situations like present one within JNU disciplinary mechanism. There could be some Vice-Chancellors in its long existence, who may not be shining like these bright stars, yet no one compromised with JNU’s reputation, as you have in just two weeks Sir.
You can compare your conduct with Prof Suranjan Das, Vice-Chancellor of Jadavpur University, he also faced same problem—controversial sloganeering by its students, yet despite criticizing the slogans, he categorically refused to call the police, taking a firm stand that it is an internal matter of University and it will be settled by its own disciplinary procedure. He refused to play the ball of MHRD minister to subject students to police brutality, as Kanhaiya Kumar has faced and given the surcharged atmosphere, the way some JNU students are being head-hunted by police, if someone took a tragic step like Rohit Vemula took in Hyderabad, you should think of its impact, not only in JNU, rather all over India. Rohit Vemula was equally vilified by ruling party patronized student group ABVP, as ‘anti-national’ and later on Prime Minister had to call him ‘Bharat Mata ka Lal’ (Son of Mother India), this is a different matter, that no one believed this hypocritical comment after he was forced to commit suicide, by the same forces, represented by Prime Minister.
Prof M Jagdeesh Kumar, as a scientist, you perhaps have little exposure to social sciences or humanities, whose scholars/students know that in student age, there are rebellious tendencies among youth, even inside home and parents don’t kill their children for their rebellious tendencies, over the period by life experiences, youth mollifies, see what DP Tripathy , now a member of Rajya Sabha and only other JNUSU President to be arrested during emergency has to say that ‘we used to say so many things as students’! Relations between students and teachers, particularly in JNU, is not of distance, they live like a family. Teachers help them like their family members. Do you know that during emergency Rector of JNU Prof Moonis Raza, despite being supporter of Indira Gandhi, had been sheltering many students in his home, yet he was made VC of Delhi University later! You change the minds of students or youth by not police tortures, that make them rather hardened in their views, they change by engaging them in debates and discussions and many change and get into very high positions world over. Only a fascist mindset tries to treat students as ‘anti nationals’ despite sometime shouting controversial slogans. In JNU, the most objectionable slogan of ‘destroying India’ seems to be the handiwork of some designed vested interest from outside JNU to trap JNU students as most of channels are now showing the videos of its suspiciousness, even a radical student will not shout such slogans. As I write this to you, I am reading the letter of Vishwadeepak of Zee News resigning from this channel citing the reason that how this channel has conspiratorially trapped Kanhaiya Kumar into treason charge and planned all stories on JNU with a specific agenda.
It is a sad state of affairs that you are not even taking JNUTA into confidence or listening to them in resolving the crisis. Every time there is a crisis in JNU from students, it is always JNUTA, which had helped resolve crisis, playing a mediatory role. When I was JNUTA President during year 2007, seven students, including President and Secretary of elected JNUSU were expelled by JNU administration on certain charges. JNUTA though criticized student’s aggressive conduct and made them realize their mistake, never allowed administration to succeed in their design to expel students. In fact that time even JNU Karamchari Association joined with JNUTA and JNUSU to get the order of expulsion of students rescinded. This time it is a worrying phenomenon that some sections of JNU employees have threatened to spy on students and teachers to report them for ‘anti national’ activities. Knowing large number of employees in JNU as its faculty member, I know that faculty, students and employees always had harmonious relations, despite having different political views. There is certainly a mischief to spoil this harmony by some vested interests and I don’t rule out outside political hand in it. If this trend is encouraged it will have long term damage to the institution’s harmonious administrative structure. Using ex-servicemen’ families to vilify JNU students as ‘traitors’ and ‘anti nationals’ is even a more dangerous trend being practiced by the ruling party.
In present case not only JNUSU has expressed reservations about University appointed enquiry committee, it has been unanimously objected by JNUTA also in its general body meeting. In this situation, the enquiry committee will have neither any credibility nor any sanctity and its decisions, in absence of students and faculty participation in its proceedings, will look to be vindictive. That will damage JNU’s own internal disciplinary mechanism’s reputation as well.
Meanwhile I have decided to return Central Hindi Directorate [under Higher Education unit of MHRD] award of fifty thousand rupees, given to me in year 2003 by then Prime Minister for ‘Non Hindi Speaking area Hindi Writer’ for year 2000-01 to protest against attack on JNU by arresting JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar and terrorizing the JNU faculty and students by dubbing them ‘anti-nationals’ through media and ‘street justice’ of beating with threats of killing as well. As a Vice-Chancellor you are duty bound to protect the life and limb of all its members—faculty, students and staff, if you cannot, then your moral authority will be greatly affected inside JNU, even if you get full outside support from MHRD and Home ministers and Delhi police.
It was neither necessary nor my duty to write to you, it is only because of ‘moral’ crisis of conscience pricking, that I, who had been alumnus as well as faculty member of JNU writing to express my anguish at present state of affairs in my alma mater, of which like thousands of its alumnus, I too feel proud and JNU alumni world over is disturbed and they are expressing their concern to you with thousands of signatures from world over.
If I am a true follower of Bhagat Singh, even academically editing his documents, published by Government of India, by reading which our JNU students are being targeted, I fail to understand that how following Bhagat Singh’s ideals could make our students as ‘anti-nationals! Kanhaiya Kumar in his speech was raising slogans of Bhagat Singh Zindabad / Baba Sahib Ambedkar Zindabad. Shall we accept that raising slogans of Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh is an act of ‘anti nationalism’ and ‘treason’? Bhagat Singh taught fearlessness, which Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Rajmohan Gandhi is also pleading at this time of crisis of fascist attack on our values of liberalism and freedom of expression in the name of phoney ‘nationalism’!
And Sir, before I could even mail this to you, news came of my esteemed and dear colleague in JNUTA in 2007 and well known Ambedkarite scholar Prof Vivek Kumar has been physically attacked in Gwallor by ABVP ‘nationalists’, on whose complaint you have been trapped into calling the police inside campus. If you are still not able to understand, the forces inside JNU, who are inimical to the very institution, then you will never understand.
Please think it over.
Yours Chaman Lal,
Retired JNU Professor,
Vol. 48, No. 35, Mar 6 – 12, 2016