As the standoff between the JNU students and the Modi government continues, it should be amply made clear that the sloganeering by student mobs on the university campus and at the press club by Prof. S A R Gilani – making a martyr out of Afzal Guru, demanding destruction and division of India was in no way an expression of dissent. It was just short of being anti-national. By acting against rebel students, neither the BJP is proving its nationalism, as claimed by many, nor are the students by quoting the constitutional rights able to justify their hateful slogans. The government action may appear harsh, but was necessary, as for too long many groups have been harbouring and expressing these sentiments.
No doubt the right to dissent will have to be safeguarded from the politics of opportunism of Congress, AAP, the Left and the BJP too, but the opposition should have acted maturely before it sent emissaries like Rahul Gandhi and Sitaram Yetury to show solidarity towards the students who were part of alleged anti-national sloganeering. However, the opposition seem to have realised that its support to the protesting students was unnecessary, as a result of which, no politicians have come out in support of students from Jadavpur University and Aligarh Muslim University who have shown solidarity with the JNU students and their awful rant.
University campuses where students and professors are suppose to have intellectual intercourse and develop theories and ideas to make the society a better place for citizens, have unfortunately turned into a place for those who are against the government administration and in many cases against the upper class. Politicisation of Rohith Wemula’s death and JNU protest is the finest example of this. In May 2014, security authorities had arrested Delhi University Prof. Saibaba for his alleged Naxal links and recruiting JNU student for his so called revolutionary activities in Chhatisgarh. The student was associated with the Democratic Students’ Union (DSU), the same group which is currently in the news for anti- India and pro-Pakistan sloganeering. S A R Geelani, the former professor of the Delhi University, who was narrowly acquitted by the Supreme Court for his alleged role in the 2001 Parliament attack case had arranged an ghaibana janaza — funeral prayers in absentia for terrorist Afzal Guru – a week after the latter’s hanging in 2013. This was shameful.
Over the years these elements have gained strength only because past central administrations never invoked the legal system to deal with them. The left wing student group celebrated the killing of 76 CRPF security personnel in 2010 in Dantewada. The then Congress government did not act. Embarrassment at its best. Now, when the government has decided to deal with the miscreants – this awful lot is not only dividing the society on political lines, but painting all those who favour legal action with the same brush of ‘Bhakts’, Khakhi chaddis and ultra-nationalists. Their anger is justified as for the first time a government has decided to act firmly against them.
One should realize that the Sangh Parivar’s Hindu majoritarian nationalism is a mirage, Congress’ minority appeasement has miserably failed and has created more problems than it has provided solutions. And, the world has witnessed the ugly fall of Leftist ideology the world over. But would these groups who ask for Azadi give a clarification on their definition of freedom and nationalism? It is not about the so called (original) nationalists (the Congress), ultra-nationalists (BJP) and anti-nationals, nor is it between the students and the government. It is for the Indian society to think that what kind of ideas we allow the university campuses to harbor and propagate.
It was King Dhananda who did not allow Guru Chanakya to build university in Patliputra and subverted free flow of ideas. Later, Chanakya was forced to fight the might of the Nanda dynasty with his knowledge and army of students. Today, fortunately, no professor has the capabilities and nationalistic vision that of Chanakya. Even if by mistake, Chanakya is referred to in the present context, a section of the society would out rightly reject it saying, India is still ruled by the Brahminical ideals. But in reality, Jai Bheem is politically more lucrative than what Babasaheb preached and what he gave us through his contribution to the Constitution. More than the protection of liberal ideas and their demand for uncontrolled freedom of speech, it is about the safety of national interest – especially from within the country. During the reign of Chandragupta Maurya, Chanakya fought for the unification of smaller states as all smaller states lacked political unity and consciousness. Today it is about various political philosophies, which are at loggerheads, including upper caste – lower caste divide.
The Hindu dharma has clearly made a distinction between Shashtra (knowledge) and shastra (weapon). The protection of Shashtra (here understand as democratic ideals) is possible only by allowing free exchange of ideas and vibrant role of the universities. But the JNU and press club incidents have forced the government to invoke shastra (here understand as law). Chanakya gave weapons to his students as Dhanananda was blind to the military march of Alexander towards India. In contrast to this, Prof. Geelani and Prof. Saiaba have invoked anti-national feelings among students over crucial security issues like Kashmir and Maoism. How can any state tolerate such activities? Has the time come for Chanakya’s rebirth? The answer depends on our so called intellectuals who either believe in anti-administration rant or just return awards. An intellectual does neither. He is just busy building a strong nation.
My Goddess Saraswati still has a Vina (an Indian classical musical instrument – a symbol peace) and a book (a symbol of knowledge) in her hands. Don’t force her to become Mahishasur Mardini.