ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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New Tryst with Freedom

The attack on students, this time in JNU, is part of India's unresolved culture wars.

In a deplorable, if not entirely unexpected, move the administration of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has taken strong disciplinary actions against students it had identified for alleged indiscipline and for breaking university rules. Students have been fined from ₹10,000 to ₹20,000 and some have been rusticated for different lengths of time; one student has been declared out of bounds from the campus for five years. These are unprecedentedly harsh measures. The only time similar measures were taken was in 1983; unlike then there was no violence from the students this time.

Despite having had the process of an enquiry before handing out these punishments it does appear that the punishments are unfair and, more importantly, driven by the saffron political waves trying to drown out the island that has been JNU. The students and teachers of JNU had raised serious questions about numerous procedural lapses in the entire process—the very constitution of the “High Level Enquiry Committee,” the random, yet deliberate, manner in which some students were targeted, the sending of “show-cause” notices, the charges of “indiscipline,” spreading “casteist” and “communal” feelings, etc. That the university addressed none of these and punished about a score of JNU’s politically active students, while ignoring that its students and teachers were charged and physically attacked on the basis of forged videos and palpably false testimonies, cannot but suggest political play to any independent observer. The students have decided to reject the punishments, not pay the fines and go on an indefinite hunger strike demanding their withdrawal.

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