For the militant Right, it’s right to shove patriotism down your throat

Arrested JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar’s Facebook profile was allegedly hacked and the image of the tricolour was put as his profile picture.

 |  3-minute read |   21-02-2016
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  • Ped ki daali arupat, kyu jalte ho panchi jab pank tumhare sath
  • Phal khai hai iske gande kiye hai paat, dharm hamara yahi hai jale isi ke sath.
  • (The tree is on fire, birds, why do you burn if you can easily fly away
  • Eaten its fruits, dirtied its branches, it’s my religion to burn with the tree.)

28-year-old Vinay (name changed on request) from the small town of Bundi in Rajasthan, saw the Jawaharlal Nehru University’s (JNU) lush green campus for the first time when he opted for an MA course at the university. “It was love at first sight. The roads reminded me of Robert Frost’s poems. The campus with mountains, that’s what I liked to call it. And people. They were different. Not just in appearances, but also in terms of what they wanted in life,” reminisces Vinay.

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On February 9, the university felt a tremor. A tremor whose aftermath shook the entire nation. Some students alleged of raising anti-India slogans came under the Delhi Police scanner and the JNU Student Union (JNUSU) president Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested. The entire university rose against his arrest, though it was started to be called “home of anti-nationals” for defending Kanhaiya and Umar Khalid - another face of the anti-India protests at the JNU.

“All I see is BJP goons beating up anyone who doesn’t say Vande Mataram or Jai Hind. At least this happened at the Patiala House Court when Kanhaiya was there. This entire scenario reminds me a quote of Sydney J Harris, an American journalist from Chicago Daily News – “The difference between patriotism and nationalism is that the patriot is proud of his country for what it does, and the nationalist is proud of his country no matter what it does; the first attitude creates a feeling of responsibility, but the second a feeling of blind arrogance that leads to war,’" said Vinay, who has only been to the JNU for two years and has stayed apolitical during his studies.

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Like Vinay, I met many students from the JNU who were entirely apolitical but enthusiastically gathered at Mandi House on February 19 to lead a march against Kanhaiya’s arrest. “Killers of Rohith, go back”, “First FTII, then IIT-Madras, then HU and now JNU”, and “Kanhaiya wadh karega Kans ka" (referring to an event from Hindu mythology where Lord Krishna slays his evil uncle Kans) echoed around Lutyens’ Delhi.

That day, I met another boy named Rishi, who is an active member of the AISF and was present during the march. He called me up early in the morning and said, “Did you check Kanhaiya’s Facebook profile? It has been hacked. And guess what the profile picture is now? His profile picture now shows a tricolour. You see, from the HRD ministry to a ‘nationalist’ hacker, everyone wants to shove nationalism inside you.”

“The tree never caught fire. It was shoved in the heads of the birds. But no matter what, we had flown together, and we will always stick together,” Vinay explains what the JNU means to him with the verses of this poem, which I thought proper to begin the article with.


Shadab Nazmi Shadab Nazmi @shadabnazmi

Senior sub-editor (Digital) at India Today, data miner.

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