The ill-fated 14th of February is back with an ominous bang. Last year, over 200 students from Jawaharlal Nehru University and Delhi University were detained at Parliament Street Police Statio for an unlicensed protest in front of the Hindu Mahasabha Office. As the 14th approaches once more, the strong arm of the state (the police) has penetrated JNU and made arrests of students within University premises. It seems that the circumference of legitimate protest has diminished considerably in a year. It has diminished from ‘protest where asked’ to ‘protest when allowed.’
Despite the periodic ‘thu-thu’ of JNU, the trending demand to #ShutDownJNU is of new origin. The trend is based purely on a strangely lopsided perception of what people at this institution stand for.
Whether the popular wrath reflected in this trend is mirrored by the state’s methods of addressing issues is a matter of concern. For now, a great deal of anxiety and angst, confusion and crisis has overwhelmed the student community as four police jeeps, two buses, a minibus and perhaps one hundred cops stationed at the JNU North Gate ‘secure’ the campus. When spoken with Inspector Somnath Paruthi about their purpose at JNU’s threshold, his response was, “We’re here to maintain law and order. We’re taking preventive measures in case of a breach of law and order.”
For the past two days, news vans have been in and out of JNU campus like DTC buses. Protest demos, press releases and disclaimers are daily occurrences. Police have been authorised by JNU administration to enter hostels and sniff out probable seditionists. The confused fear instilled by this infiltration has impacted the large masses of students who consider themselves independent from the instigating conflicts. They must reconcile their affections for JNU with the apparent hatred being directed at this campus from across the nation. In a situation of this kind, an average, supposedly apolitical student or researcher wonders their place in matter. I am a part of JNU, so does that incontrovertibly make me a separatist?
Aakanksha D’cruz is an MA of CPS at JNU and works at the Informer. All thoughts expressed are personal.