Professors like Susan Vishvanathan, Ayesha Kidwai, Nivedita Menon, Tanveer Fazal and others joined students to form a two-line human chain keeping the ABVP members and the remonstrating crowd at bay in a public meeting held outside the Administration building last evening.
“The teachers kept reminding us that the right to expression is always provided in JNU and not to react; my admiration, love and respect for the teachers [have] grown more than ever” shared a student from CHS.
The event, organised by JNUSU witnessed a turnout of over 3000 people including students, lecturers and others who had assembled to hear former JNUSU Presidents and notable politicians such as Sitaram Yechuri, Rahul Gandhi and D. Raja, who talked in defence of the ‘idea of JNU’.
The public meeting began at 05:30 pm with numerous slogans being raised to release JNUSU President, Kanhaiya Kumar while at the same condemning ABVP’s attempts to disrupt the organised meeting. Gaurav Kumar Jha of ABVP was seen pushed out from the podium where the speakers were seated right before the talks commenced.
The release of JNUSU President, removal of police from the campus and an end to the witch-hunt of JNU—these were the three demands put forth by JNUSU and JNUTA at the meeting. The talk officially began with Sitaram Yechuri, leader of CPI(M) and also a former JNUSU President mentioning, “All will be well with this country when tolerance, humanity and venturing of ideas are recognised as integral parts of a university.” Questioning the credibility of the circulating protest video in the media, he emphasised that JNUites are not anti-nationalists rather they are an expression of the very idea of modern India.
Rahul Gandhi in his speech stated, “The Constitution recognises and respects voices of every individual in India; as a nation we have progressed only because of this voice and those who seek to suppress it are the anti-nationalists.” Pointing towards protesting ABVP members adjacent to the podium, he also mentioned, “This is India because over here we provide voice to them and let them express what they want to.”
Certain students in the crowd were skeptical and expressed concern over the presence of politicians in the meeting.
Others who spoke, condemned the ruling Government’s hostility towards JNU, as the university has increasingly turned out to be a potential threat to its functioning. One of the speakers affirmed the audience that “JNU has always been the conscious keeper of this country and its students being the torchbearers of new India.”
Two hours into the speeches and sloganeering, Congress Leader, Anand Sharma was seen emerging out through the crowd that had gathered on the opposite side. Later on, there were allegations that he was attacked when some ABVP members were protesting near him.
Ayesha Kidwai, representative from JNUTA disclosed that a Joint-Coordination Committee has been formed which will work with JNUSU, as a response to the recent developments on campus and that teachers were in full support to meet the three stated demands.
She also assured, “Our University is the centre of independent thinking and has always been the site for critical engagement with politics in this country, and nobody can tamper that ideology.” She condemned the ‘law-abiding’ JNU administration for being in the wrong side of the right interpretation of the law.
A member of JNUSU called forth for a human chain protest formation near Ganga Dhaba at 05:00pm today (Sunday) for those in support to #SaveJNU. Also, 15 February 2016, Monday, has been declared a university strike.
Asiya Baqar Naqvi, Dhaval Bhate, Kumar Prashant, Revati Kulkarni, Sibel Guner and Upama Bhattacharya work for the Informer.