I didn’t write before because it was not clear from conflicting media reports and everyday changing narrative what actually transpired.
Now that we know most of the truth, it is much easier to make up my mind. You need not judge this post based on my political leanings. I have none: I am neither a right-winger or staunch leftist. Perhaps I lean at the center but I am no fence-sitter. I weigh the issue and lean on either side where reason lies. To be honest, I don’t think we live in an age where we can afford to be lazy to blindly follow any ideology. But I digress. You should judge this post purely based on facts and reason.
A concise recap of the events of JNU would be: Students gathered on the eve of death anniversary of Afzal Guru and raised anti-India and pro-Guru slogans. Media blamed one of them with Muslim name to be JEM (Jaish-e-Mohamed) sympathiser. Lawyers beat up one of them. As a result, other alleged ‘anti-national’students went underground fearing their safety. Nation, oh right-wing nationalists, were agog with demands of shutting down entire JNU since it is funded by taxpayer’s money.
1. Is there a case against the students for raising anti-India slogans?
There is NO video evidence of Pro-Pak slogans except in doctored video. There is NO video evidence of JNU students even making pro-Kashmir, Azadi slogans. Witnesses say that there was a Kashmiri group at centre who retaliated in protest of ABVP slogans about Kashmir.
Umar Khalid accepted post-surrender he supported Guru and didn’t believe that latter was terrorist. He made slogans about it. It is Supereme court prerogative to hold him in contempt, but thinking someone innocent is not ”sedition’’. (BTW, AG rejected petition for contempt of court.) Heck, I believe in innocence of Arushi’s parents and speak about it everywhere. If I hold a peaceful protest against the HC judgment, how different is that? Okay, perhaps a bit. My dissent against Arushi judgment is not dissent against Índian state. But, we will come to that later. Though is it much different from RSS/BJP celebrating Godse as hero?
Police FIR is based on not any witness, heck not even their own testimony, but based on footage shown on Zee tv, which has now been known to be doctored. Read how Zee TV fuelled state action against JNU students. There are some internal JNU investigation listing names of student present and listing slogans raised. It is to be proven if the named students in internal report were indeed the ones who shouted ‘seditionist slogans’and not the outsiders as JNU students/faculty claim. There is debate around that too: 16 out of list (and this list is prepared by the ‘intelligence unit” of Delhi police) of 19 students are not current students of JNU.
So, do we have any case against the students? A very debatable one.
Even if we assume if the accused students did raise slogans. Let’s go over them.
They called Guru’s death a ‘judicial murder’. State’s right to freedom of expression allows that. SC doesn’t want to pursue contempt of court either.
Har ghar mein Afzal. I deem this slogan okay too. It maybe distasteful to ‘nationalists’ but keeping sympathies, even with convicted criminals, is not a crime.
Kashmir ki azadi. I say it is problematic for state but it is understandable since Kashmir is unresolved issue. Though JNU witnesses claim these slogan-raisers weren’t Kanhaiya, Umar or Anirban, the arrested three, but Kashmiris who were outsiders.
Bharat ki barbadi. Celebrating death of CRPF in Maoist struggle. Personally I find these very, very painful and unacceptable. But, these slogans even if proven were raised in the JNU gathering had no intent to violence. So is it really, really sedition? Worth reading Dilip’s article what is it anti-national about shouting Pakistan Zindabad.
2. Media Lied 90% about the JNU students to vilify them in the eyes of nation.
As we know now, Umar Khalid is no terrorist and has no links with any terrorist organisation in any country. Lie number 2: He is not JEM supporter. He didn’t go to Pak. He didn’t make 800 calls to Bangladesh, Pak or Gulf.
Kanhaiya, who people seem to have forgotten, was also framed by the same doctored video as mentioned by police FIR. Heck there is a case against media for willfully misrepresenting the facts! The story was so distorted that a Zee journalist handling the story resigned. I wish students would sue these channels and these channels should receive show cause notice by Information and Broadcasting Ministry.
3. Police role: No law and Order: Unjust torture/harassment
Police watched as mute spectator while lawyer goons at Patiala House beat up Kanhaiya. He was hurt and he may well be innocent. Forget their protection. Police bothered every Kashmiri student on campus. They interrogated friends of Umar Khalid. They tracked his phone records and hounded all friends, journalists who spoke to him on accusations why didn’t they report Umar. Umar, to be noted, hasn’t been proven a terrorist that you dig into every aspect of his life leaving no privacy.
Would you punish somebody stole bread for assuage their hunger with same intensity as you would punish someone who stole nuclear codes to share with neighboring country? These students merely expressed ideas and dissent and anger without violence. As someone said on Twitter, sledgehammer is being used for the ant.
In nationwide discussion around victimhood of Umar, people are forgetting Kanhaiya’s plight. (Sorry, Kanhaiya and you, Anirban, you don’t have right name to claim credible victimhood even if you are victims – wrong times – but more about that later). First JNU VC allowed police to enter campus to quietly pick up Kanhaiya. Action against him was so swift and bad that there were resignations even in the cadres of ABVP! (VC would wisen up and not allow police on campus and Umar would get a chance to surrender peacefully.) After being beaten up by lawyer goons, Kanhaiya is now in judicial custody for 14 days for raising ánti-national’slogans, a charge which is yet to be proven. His bail application will be heard on 29th Feb, till then he cools his heels in jail. But, lawyer goon who beat him was arrested and even released. Justice in my India!
Question we should ask ourselves: Are honest, even if angry and distasteful, but peacefully articulated ideas are more harmful than willful lies and violence against individuals?
I would leave you with this disarming video of Umar Khalid, where he doesn’t still claim any victimhood for being a Muslim but raises many valid points.
Photo: Courtesy Scroll.in