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

Women innovators on simple, revolutionary alternate solutions for water problems

By Proshakha Maitra, Mansee Bal Bhargava* The detrimental effects of uncontrolled population rise and accelerated change in the global climate have posed tremendous pressure on the water and sanitation. This calls all stakeholders, from both developed and developing nations, to improve their resilience and to instigate sustainability. It is more crucial than ever to optimise the use of the resources we have on hand since the world population is projected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050.

Muted profit margins, moderate increase in costs and sales: IIM-A survey of 1000 cos

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad’s (IIM-A's) latest Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES) has said that the cost perceptions data obtained from India’s business executives suggests that there is “mild increase in cost pressures”.

Alleged killing of another Bangladesh youth inside Indian territory: NHRC inquiry sought

By Kirity Roy* There was yet another incident of the killing of a Bangladeshi youth by the Border Security Force personnel attached with ‘Barthar’ BOP of ‘G’ Company of 75 BSF Battalion. In last five years several incidents of killings happened under this police station’s jurisdiction and the cases will get the award as “Not Guilty” as usual.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

IMA vs Ramdev: Why what's good or bad for goose should be good or bad for gander

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD* Baba Ramdev and his associate Balkrishna faced the wrath of the Supreme Court for their propaganda about their Ayurvedic products and belittling mainstream medicine. Baba Ramdev had to apologize in court. His apology was not accepted and he may face the contempt of court with harsher punishment. The Supreme Court acted on a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Govt putting India's professionals, skilled, unskilled labour 'at mercy of' big business

By Thomas Franco, Dinesh Abrol*  As it is impossible to refute the report of the International Labour Organisation, Chief Economic Advisor Anantha Nageswaran recently said that the government cannot solve all social, economic problems like unemployment and social security. He blamed the youth for not acquiring enough skills to get employment. Then can’t the people ask, ‘Why do we have a government? Is it not the government’s responsibility to provide adequate employment to its citizens?’

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Modi model, Hindutva icon 'justified' alliance with Muslim League before Independence

By Shamsul Islam*  Our PM describes himself as ‘Hindu’ nationalist and member of RSS. He proudly shares the fact that he was groomed to be a political leader by one of the two fathers of the Hindutva politics, MS Golwalkar (the other being VD Savarkar) and given the task of establishing Hindutva polity in India after eradicating secularism.

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.