Who is demonising JNU?
The unfortunate part is that this section of ‘students’ gets open support from Left-wing faculty and Left-dominated JNUTU.
— By Prerna Malhotra
Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) is one of the best educational institutions in the country. It has got the highest ranking in NAAC at 3.91. It was at #1 in NIRF ranking in 2016 and #2 in 2017. It has produced many distinguished alumni, including the recent Nobel Laureate in Economics to the present Union Finance Minister and Ex-Defence Minister of the country, Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman, just to name a few. It is a much-sought after University for students from every nook and corner of the country. Same is true for aspiring professors, who wish to join this University.
However, since the last few years, many disturbing news keep coming from JNU which have tarnished its image in a big way. A small section of ‘students’ have defamed the University whether it is in November 2019 or it was in February 2016. Students have every right to protest over fee hike but the way the entire issue has been dealt by one section, supported by some faculty members, is utterly obnoxious.
Vandalism of property of the University, keeping their professors’ hostages, mishandling of female teachers, female journalists, security guards, administrative staff and above all defacing international icons like Vivekananda do not match with the credentials of the University. This is unfortunate that such an image of the University is going outside among common people for the misdeeds of a few. On 9th Feb 2016 too, the University had got a bad name widely due to a handful of ‘students’ who raised anti-India slogans. The incidence painted the entire University in a negative way.
Choosing vanadalism, confinement and hooliganism over decent, democratic ways of dissent and protest, has certainly undermined the image of the University. The administration of the University had uploaded the revised draft Hostel Manual on the University website at least for 20 days ago for suggestions. Instead of giving concrete suggestions, the Left wing students chose to gherao the officials, hostage them for hours, not letting even BP patients go, snatching car keys of one of them and locking down the entire area, etc.
The honorable Delhi High Court had restricted use of 100 metres area near the administration block for protests. The area has been marked accordingly and the protesters have been warned time and again to honour the Court Order. However, with utter disregard to the Court order, some politically motivated students have not only defaced the walls and floors with abuses intended at the VC and other administrators but even locked down the Administrative block. It means that the University has been put to ransom and it is not being allowed to function. Employees’ medical bills need to be cleared, so many other things need to be done but this has been continuing for more than 20 days.
Everyone saw via media channels how a female Professor and Associate Dean of the University was mishandled by a mob of students, with her clothes being pulled apart. She was kept hostage for 30 hours, as she had gone to conduct an examination.
These ‘students’ created nuisance near the home of a Warden at night. They have been shouting slogans at mid-night and disturbing children and ailing family members of wardens. They have not spared even poor security personnel. A female security guard has been hospitalized.
The University had its convocation these days and the honourable Vice- President and HRD Minister of the country were the guests. They too were made hostages for around six hours by a section of students. Police had to rescue the dignitaries from the unruly ‘students’ as many eyewitnesses feel that outsider hooligans were present on that day.
They defaced the statue of Vivekananda, an international icon of Indianness, including in Russia and other communist countries. What has the defacing of the statue to do with fee hike? How are the curse words scribbled with spray paint near the statue related to fee hike protest?
These students have academically strangulated the University since 28th October 2019. Examinations are going to begin from 13th December 2019, hardly a few days away. Majority of students come to universities to study. What is being achieved by halting academic work of the University by locking down academic blocks? Should such academic strangulation be allowed by a few ‘students’ under any pretext?
The University property has been vandalised. Name plates of administrators have been broken and thrown away. CCTV cameras have been damaged. Faculty house lawns have been destroyed. Is it not criminal to vandalise public property, acquired through tax-payers’ money?
Genuine issues like fee hike can be resolved through dialogue and appropriate procedure. The University has already partially rolled back the fee hike for economically weaker section students.
Nevertheless, students cannot keep administrators hostage and compel them to sign on resignation letters already prepared by them. Administrators can not have a dialogue with mob, neither can the Vice Chancellor meet an illegitimate students’ body representatives. It may be recalled here that the JNUSU elections have not been declared yet due to the Delhi High Court’s intervention. In such circumstances, the University can only talk to the legitimately elected hostel presidents of the 18 hostels of the University. The University has Inter Hall Administration (IHA) committee, with Dean, Student Welfare as its Head. All the three Associate Deans, five Provosts, 18 Wardens of all hostels and 18 Hostel Presidents (locally elected by all residents through due procedure) are its members. The hooligan element in the University did not let the meeting of this body of 45 members, including their representatives, take place. This clearly shows that resolution of fee hike and manual is not their agenda.
The unfortunate part is that this section of ‘students’ gets open support from Left-wing faculty and Left-dominated JNUTU. This is evident from the fact that the teachers’ body has not even once condemned the shameful incident of a fellow female colleague’s confinement by students for 30 hours.
Should such be the behaviour of students of an internationally-acclaimed University? Is this the ethos and culture of Jawaharlal Nehru University? The answer is a definite NO!
Hooliganism, vandalism and roguery can not be JNU. Youngsters from far-flung areas of the country aspire to be a part of the University. What message is being sent across to them by the few who are working as pawns in the hands of politically motivated people? Their slogans and actions explicitly convey a mindset which is certainly not academic. A handful of rowdy element is trying to demonise JNU. They must be exposed and their efforts be thwarted at all levels to save an internationally-acclaimed academic institution. JNU needs freedom from hooliganism of Left.
((Prerna Malhotra is Associate Professor in Delhi University. She teaches English at Ram Lal Anand College))