For a week now, a major debate has been raging across the country; ever since students at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) held a protest on Feb 9; over the hanging of Afzal Guru. Afzal Guru, who was responsible for the 2001 Parliament attack, was hanged on Feb 9 2013 and these students held a protest on the third anniversary of his execution. The protest has been termed ‘anti national’ in various media and some of the protesters have been arrested on sedition charges.
The JNU controversy has practically divided the entire country into two; with a vast majority condemning the protest and a minority supporting the protest.
South Report brings to you all the things you need to know about the ongoing JNU controversy.
Sequence of Events
A large group of students of JNU conducted an event on Feb 9, on the university campus. Titled “The Country Without a Post Office” the event was attended by representatives from most of the university’s political outfits. It was organised “to stand in solidarity with the struggle of Kashmiri people for their democratic right to self determination” and also to protest against the ‘Judicial Killing’ of Afzal Guru.
The fiery protest soon turned into a scuffle between the group and members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP); after slogans such as ‘Bharat ke tukde honge hazaar‘ (India will be broken into a thousand pieces) and ‘Bharat ki Barbadi tak jung zaari rahegi‘ (Our fight will continue until India is destroyed) were raised by the protesters.
Members of ABVP had earlier objected to the event and even wrote to the University Administration, demanding such protests should not be held on campus. The university administration then ordered a cancellation of the march and later released a statement saying it had been misled throughout; as the organisers had asked permission to conduct a ‘cultural program’ and not a protest.
The JNU student union and some Leftist student groups condemned the anti-national statements and slogans raised in the protest. The university administration initiated a disciplinary enquiry to find out how the event took place even after the permission was withdrawn and said it will wait for the probe report before initiating any necessary action.
Kanhaiya Kumar, the president of JNU students union, was arrested on Friday, with charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy. The police is also reported to have told the court that Kanhaiya has to be interrogated to identify the others who were seen shouting anti-national slogans during the event.
Leftist parties, such as the Students Federation of India (SFI), have remained distant from the protest and have distanced themselves from further events in this regard.
Smriti Irani, the current Minister of Human Resource Development, condemned the protest and publicly said that the government will have ‘zero tolerance’ towards anti-national activities and statements.
Here is a leaked video of the protest:
South Report’s Perspective
While we, at South Report, firmly believe in the freedom of speech and expression; we also believe there is a very thin line between dissent and sedition. The prestigious JNU is a place which has always encouraged free speech and formation of various ideologies but sadly, a few students from the university took to supporting a terrorist and raised slogans such as ‘kithne afzal maaroge ghar ghar pe afzal niklega‘ (No matter how many you kill; every house will then produce an Afzal), ‘Long Live the Right to Sedition’.
South Report strongly condemns such statements and anti-national sentiments; especially considering the fact that it is the Nation that is giving these students a quality education and an opportunity to lead a good life.