3 things Modi sarkar did right in #JNUShutDown

JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar should be awarded exemplary punishment to act as a deterrent.

 |  6-minute read |   15-02-2016
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As the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) is on the boil over "anti-national" slogans raised by its students, it is an occasion to assess the actions taken by the Narendra Modi government in the matter. I feel the government should be applauded for at least three decisions it has taken over the unfortunate but controversial incident.

1. Arrest of JNU Students' Union (JNUSU) president

A group of students raised slogans which were not only highly controversial and objectionable but clearly seditious in nature. And there should not be any doubts about that. Those trying to justify it, support it or even ignore it are also as guilty as those who raised the slogans such as "Bharat tere tukde honge, Inshallah, Inshallah" (India, you will be split into pieces, God willing, God willing) and "India ki barbaadi tak jung rahegi" (fight to continue till destruction of India).

Under the freedom of expression, one can speak against any political party, organisation, religion, politician or even the president of India and the prime minister. Even a "Pakistan zindabad" slogan, though wrong, is also being tolerated. But this fundamental right does not give anyone the right to wish and propagate destruction of the country. The JNU students were doing exactly that.

The other controversial slogans were no less anti-national: such as "Afzal hum sharminda hain, tere kaatil abhi zinda hain" (Afzal we are ashamed because your murderers are still alive); "Kitne Afzal Guru maroge, har ghar me paida hoga ek Afzal" (how many Afzal Guru will you kill, one Afzal will be born in every house; "Kashmir ki azadi tak, jung rahegi, jung rajegi" (there will be fight till Kashmir is free); and "Pakistan zindabad".

Terrorist Afzal Guru's supporters term his execution for his role in attacking Parliament on December 13, 2001 as "judicial killing". Going by their slogans and the stand, it is obvious that judiciary and the judges are also under threat from these students.

The slogans were raised on the JNU campus at a programme to observe the third death anniversary of Afzal Guru on February 9. JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar had organised Afzal's "martyrdom" day programme. Hence, his culpability arises simply from the fact that he was one of the organisers of the event, whether or not he has been seen shouting these seditious slogans in a much-circulated video.

2. Rajnath Singh's revelation about LeT's support to pro-Azad Kashmir JNU students

Home minister Rajnath Singh claimed on February 14 that Indians need to “understand the reality” that the protest by the JNU students had the backing of Pakistan-based terror organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba's (LeT) chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed. Let's give the due respect to the minister who is responsible enough to have said this on the basis of some concrete proof, and not a tweet from supposedly a "fake" Twitter handle of the Pakistani terrorist on February 13, inviting the JNU students to Pakistan.

The home minister's "revelation" has certainly put the supporters of the agitating JNU students on the defensive. The sympathisers of Kanhaiya Kumar, who had been trying to put the Centre and the BJP on the backfoot, will now get wary of lending a helping hand to the protesting students lest they also get into trouble.

Singh's revelation will also help in countering the propaganda of rivals like Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, CPM leader Sitaram Yechury and others who have been descending on the JNU campus and criticising the Delhi Police's move to arrest the erring Kanhaiya Kumar and scout for others who had raised anti-India slogans.

3. Tolerance of Modi sarkar

Though the Centre is dealing with the JNU incident with an iron hand, it has, however, shown immense restraint and patience in tackling the situation arising out of it. It is not taking any impulsive step. While the event to observe Afzal Guru's "martyrdom" day took place on February 9, the government arrested Kanhaiya Kumar three days later on February 12 after due deliberations.

So far, the government has made only one arrest, and is yet to book several others - prominent among them being Democratic Students' Union (DSU) leader Umar Khaleed - due to the highly sensitive nature of the case. The Delhi Police, which receives orders from the ministry of home affairs, has been cautious in not hurriedly rounding up the others.

In fact, Rahul Gandhi, Yechury and other leaders too should have invited action for supporting the anti-national students. However, the government has ignored their attempt to politicise a serious issue like this.

Rahul contradicted himself when he said, "A youngster expressed himself and the government says he is an anti-national... The most anti-national people are the people who are suppressing the voice of this institution..."

Yechury alleged that  the Left-linked student group has been subjected to arbitrary arrests as part of a nefarious political agenda. He further alleged that the JNUSU also terms the incident as an "RSS plot to shut down the university".

The government has taken the minimum possible action so far. Had it ignored the anti-national rants, it would have been criticised for not being tough with such elements.

Secondly, sparing the anti-Indians would have encouraged others to follow suit. This would have created more problems not only for the Centre but also various state governments and the people in general. The trend which started from the Kashmir Valley, and is a norm there, would have become common in other parts of the country which are suffering from Naxalism and fundamentalism.

The Congress and the Left are indulging in doublespeak due to their sense of insecurity and deep hatred for Modi. On the one hand, they admit that the anti-India slogans were wrong, but on the other, they are lashing out at the government when law is taking its own course. For their convenience, they are focusing only on the pro-Azad Kashmir and pro-Pakistan slogans and are ignoring the "India ki barbaadi" and "Bharat tere tukde hongey" parts.

The points to ponder are: How fair is it for the Congress and the Left to justify anti-nationalism as well as "India ki barbaadi" in the name of freedom of expression? Don't they believe that these subversive and anti-national activities have crossed the line?

It is time JNU is cleansed not only of the anti-national students but also teachers who guide and provide moral support to them. Besides, Kanhaiya Kumar should be awarded exemplary punishment to teach him a lesson and to set a deterrent for other prospective offenders.


Kumar Shakti Shekhar Kumar Shakti Shekhar @shaktishekhar

Delhi-based journalist with more than 20 years of experience in reporting for print, TV & digital media.

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