JNU: Salam!

The manner in which Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has been targeted raises several questions about this process and the intentions of the government and media. It is indeed alarming that without substantial evidence the university’s student union leader has been labelled as anti-national and charged for sedition. Equally grievous is the fact that he and a few other students have been physically attacked by some men. This step certainly does not display any respect of the latter for Indian law and order as well as the country’s judicial system. Rather, the hard reality that they have shown disrespect for the country’s legal process by displaying their physical force against Kanhaiya Kumar and a few others stands out. They have abused the country’s judicial process. These elements have sought to take action in keeping with what they have viewed as appropriate, irrespective of any concern for the country’s judiciary and administration. Certainly, each person has equal access to the country’s legal and judicial process. But this does not allow anyone to abuse the same in keeping with his/her desire.

The rowdy behaviour indulged in by unruly elements unfortunately displays the confidence that they appear to have in violating the country’s legal system. They have displayed the arrogance of indulging in such behaviour by giving greater importance to what suits their narrow interests, irrespective of the extent to which it can be suggestive of abusing the judicial and legal process. Clearly, there is no dearth of evidence of the manner in which these elements have not respected the country’s law and order system, implying that suitable legal action needs to be taken against them for indulging in such behaviour.  

True, Kanhaiya has been charged for having indulged in certain alleged illegal activities. However, till charges are proved, he can only be viewed as being allegedly responsible for the same and not regarded as being guilty of having actually committed the same. In other words, without his having been proved in a court of law to have indulged in anti-national activities, certain elements have not only viewed him as “guilty,” but have also indulged in taking action against him, which suited their interests. They have displayed no interest in giving greater importance to the nation’s law and order. Unfortunately, Kanhaiya is not the first or the only Indian to be viewed as a criminal even before charges levied against him are proved in a court of law.

In this context, one may recall Sachar committee report and research undertaken on humanitarian ground. It is a well-known fact that, proportionally, a larger number of Muslims are in jails, even though there isn’t enough evidence against them. The ease with which Muslims are charged and imprisoned as “terrorists” and criminals without substantial proof, cannot be ignored. True, a few of these have been able to secure justice and be declared as innocent through legal services undertaken by their relatives or other persons of the community. Yet, there is no report of these people having suitably compensated for the years that had been wasted away in prison cells. Also, despite their being not guilty of the charges earlier levied against them, there still prevails the tendency to view them with suspicion. Besides, there is no news of suitable action being taken against those responsible for fabricating false charges against them.

One may also recall the venom with which during electoral campaigning, certain elements linked with Sangh Parivar targeted Indian Muslims. Questioning their patriotism, in their speeches, these elements showed no hesitation in linking Muslims with Pakistan and terrorism. Little importance has been given to the historical fact that during partition period, Indian Muslims’ patriotism stood out. They preferred partition of their families, preferring to stay in this country instead of moving across the border. It is time some importance is given to questioning and taking action against elements indulging in levying false charges regarding the nationalist sentiments of Indian Muslims.

It cannot be ignored that usually riots and other incidents are preceded and accompanied by false rumours deliberately spread to excite communal frenzy. The manner in which such activities are carried out violates the fundamental principles of Indian Constitution and law. Undeniably, all sections of the Indian population are not moved by such false propaganda. Nevertheless, even if a minor section is influenced, it certainly leads to harmful impact on a large number of people. Yet, the tragic reality is that so far effective action has not been taken to curb such negative behaviour. This point is being deliberately made for had such action been taken, the unruly elements would not have been encouraged to target JNU students. Perhaps, having failed so far to gain a strong ground in JNU, certain elements linked with Sangh Parivar opted for this route.

Certainly, those associated with JNU have taken the right step by voicing their protest against charges levied against Kanhaiya. Besides, the manner in which they have displayed their solidarity, without letting this be disturbed by regional, religious and other cultural differences, stands out. Clearly, Sangh Parivar’s move to target JNU has failed against this university’s democratic strength. So, Salam JNU!      

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 March 2016 on page no. 11

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