Skip to main content

Constitutional right to dissent: Civil society steps up pressure, as "absconding" JNU student leader reappears

Khalid Umar
By Our Representative
Civil society has sharply stepped up its campaign on the “constitutional right to dissent” amidst Umar Khalid, 28-year-old PhD student of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) reappearing on the campus along with his colleagues Anirban Bhattacharya, Rama Naga, Ashutosh Kumar and Anant Prakash.
More than 200 senior civil society activists have joined India's senior academics in writing a letter to the President of India expressing their “shock and concern” at the alarming increase in reports from several academic institutions in India of high-handed behaviour on the part of the authorities against dissent (click HERE for the letter and list of signatories).
The National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), the apex body of large number of mass organizations, has declared that it would join left-wing political parties to hold a massive rally on February 24 at Parliament Street on the "constitutional right to protest, in which “thousands of farmers, workers, fisher folks, and adivasis with participate.
Khalid appearing on the campus, declared was “not a terrorist”, even as Delhi Police waited outside the campus to nab him for charges of sedition. He told a gathering on the campus, efforts were being made to call him a Jaish-e-Mohamed activist, with false stories floating around that he had been to Pakistan twice, that he was a mastermind, and that he had made calls to Gulf and to Kashmir.
Referring to the harassment meted out to his sisters and father, he said, “For the last six years in the JNU campus I never thought myself as a Muslim. The first time I felt like a Muslim was in the last 10 days.”
The letter to the President said the harassment of students on “frivolous and baseless charges” was “shocking”, adding, “We fail to understand why and how organising and debating to protest/ commemorate certain events in the troubled history of Kashmir any matter should become an act of sedition.”
Condemning the police action, the letter underlined, “We would also like to draw your attention to the rapidly growing tendency of cynically defining ‘anti-nationalism’ for sectarian ulterior motives in order to further terrorise people through self-appointed vigilante groups.”
“Any serious academic institution will fail in its endeavour to nurture informed citizenship if it is not a place for dialogue, debate and dissent”, the letter said.
The letter quotes the Report of the Education Commission (Kothari Commission) of mid-1960s, which said, universities are the “dwelling places of ideas and idealism” and theirs “is the pursuit of truth and excellence in all its diversity – a pursuit which needs, above all, courage and fearlessness.”
The commission had further noted, “Great universities and timid people go ill together. . . universities are pre- eminently the forum for critical assessment of society – sympathetic, objective, unafraid…”
The letter warned, “An atmosphere of fear and distrust will only teach the young to be timid and subservient, not the best qualities to cultivate democracy and create proactively thinking and questioning citizens of the future.”
Those in the civil society who are likely to join the rally in Delhi on February 24 include, apart from NAPM, are Bhumi Adhikar Andolan, which has been fighting against the efforts by the government to come up with pro-industry amendments in the Land Acquisition Act, the All India Union of Forest Working People, the All India Agricultural Workers Union, and CPI-M’s farmers’ wing All-India Kisan Sabha.

Comments

Anonymous said…
All this reminds me of Nazi Germany.
Anonymous said…
All this reminds me of Nazi Germany.

TRENDING

Banned? Indian ports 'received' 38 US plastic waste containers reexported from Indonesia

By Rajiv Shah
An Indonesia-based international environmental watchdog group has dug out what it has called “a global pollution shell game”, stating how officials in Indonesia approved re-exports of “illegal” US waste shipments containing plastics mainly to India, as also to other Asian countries -- Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam -- instead of returning them to the US “as promised.”

Gujarat refusal to observe Maulana Azad's birthday as Education Day 'discriminatory'

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government decision not to celebrate the National Education Day on !monday has gone controversial. Civil society organizations have particularly wondered whether the state government is shying away from the occasion, especially against the backdrop of "deteriorating" level of education in Gujarat.

Cops' 'inability' to deliver justice? Model Gujarat ranks 12th among 18 major states

By Rajiv Shah
A Tata Trusts study, released in Delhi on Thursday, has ranked “model” Gujarat 12th out of 18 major states it has analysed across India to “assess” the police's capacity to deliver justice. Several of the advanced states such as Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana as well as some of the so-called Bimaru states such as Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are found to have ranked better than Gujarat.

People's pressure? GPCB mining cancellation 'notice' to top cement unit in Gujarat

By Sagar Rabari*
Environmental Clearance (EC) was given to Ultratech Cement Co Ltd for limestone mining in villages Talli and Bambhor of Talaja taluka in Bhavnagar district of Gujarat on January 5, 2017. EC was issued ignoring, overriding and undermining opposition from local farmers to mining activity in the area. The mining in these two villages covers an area of 193.3268 hectares (ha), while the entire project is spread over an area of 1,715.1311 ha.

Bullet train acquisition: Land holding worth Rs 1.5 crore, Gujarat govt 'offer' Rs 8 lakh

By RK Misra*
Foundation stones laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi litter India’s cities, towns and villages, but there are few projects which he has pursued with such perseverance and tenacity as the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train one. However, the overwhelming state power notwithstanding, the farmers, whose lands are being acquired for the Modi government’s dream project, have no plans to give up the fight.

NHRC notice to Gujarat chief secretary following silicosis deaths in Rajkot

By Our Representative
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Gujarat chief secretary and the district magistrate, Rajkot, to respond to a complaint filed by health rights activist Jagdish Patel of the People's Training and Research Centre (PTRC), Vadodara, regarding the alleged death of Raju Prakash Parihar and two others reportedly because of silicosis, a fatal occupation disease, in Rajkot, one of Gujarat’s top cities.

Concern in UK over BJP supporters, Hindu charity 'interfering' in general elections

By Our Representative
Following apprehensions of “foreign interference” in Canadian elections, which took place last month, from several countries, including India, a similar a concern is now reported with regard to the next month’s United Kingdom general elections. The concern has particularly come from Labour Party candidates, who are citing campaign by “India-linked Hindu nationalist group” targeting Labour candidates.