Wednesday| 27 March 2016: Despite the exam season, around 300 students and teachers gathered at Ganga Dhaba on Wednesday night after dinner to participate in Mashaal Juloos called by the University’s Student Union to make a powerful statement against the “misconceived notions held by the University administration” and the “retrogressive steps taken against dissenting voices of the campus.” The University Administration’s High Level Enquiry Committee(HLEC) had previously decided to rusticate three students and had imposed fines as hefty as Rs. 20,000 on more than a score students for participating in the 9 February incident that placed JNU at the centre of all political debates in the nation for more than two months.
The march which started at 10.00 pm with loud sloganeering against the Administration and the Central Government reached the Administration Block ( Freedom Square) via T-point, only to find ABVP students and activists sitting on hunger strike. Saurabh Sharma, Joint Secretary, JNUSU, and a political activist from ABVP has also been imposed a fine of Rs. 10000 for “stopping the procession.” Five students from ABVP-Alok, Anima, Gaurav, Lalit and Saurabh, are on an indefinite hunger strike against what they called ” a left dominated JNU administration.”
Kanhaiya Kumar, JNUSU President, addressing a crowd which had now gathered strength of more than 500, sharply criticized and ridiculed ABVP “lumpens” in his 45-minute speech where he exhorted the students to join the hunger strike to protect the democratic spaces and voices of dissent in the University. The students and teachers cheered as he accused the ABVP activists of their farcical hunger strike which was not motivated by the idea to help the students, but to gain political points and ” teaching posts at Delhi University.” Later Gargi Adhikari, SIS Councillor, read out names of 20 students who would sit on a fast unto death until the orders are withdrawn. These students are Kanhaiya Kumar, Rama Naga, Syed Umar Khalid, Shweta Raj, Chintu Kumari, Anant Prakash Narayan, Sraborni Ahmed, Nitisha Kholkar, Aqsa Asger, Pratim Ghoshal, Anand Prakash, Pankhurhi Zaheer, Aparna Samanth, Sunaina, K Feyaz Ahmed, G. Suresh, Birendra, Awadesh, Sanjeev and Parthipan. A handful of students are also sitting on a relay hunger strike to support the indefinite hunger strikers.
Kumar Prashant is a BA student in SL and works for The Informer.
Photos by Sibel Güner, an MA student in CSSS who works for The Informer.