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मंदार शिंदे
Mandar Shinde

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The JNU and Kanhaiya Kumar case as I see it

There are several videos being circulated online in defence and against JNU students. The police have arrested Kanhaiya Kumar on charges of sedition based entirely on a video footage provided by Zee. Kanhaiya Kumar is elected president of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union (JNUSU), which is similar to what we had at school called School Cabinet. The event about Afzal Guru was organised by some other students' groups on 9th of February. Kanhaiya Kumar was present at the event as it was his duty to oversee events happening in the campus. He was not the organiser. The event was approved by Vice Chancellor well in advance and publicity was done through posters and handbills. The office of the Vice Chancellor cancelled the event at last moment, reportedly on request by ABVP members who informed the office about 'possible' anti-national activities that 'may' happen at the event. Even the University security officer called police at the event venue. Three policemen in civilian clothes visited the place and found students and media persons already present there. There was slogan shouting but no one could tell who shouted what. Even the policemen didn't find anything objectionable on the spot. (This is mentioned in the FIR which I have read.) Kanhaiya Kumar and others were trying to calm down the students. Next day, Zee broadcasted the unclear video captured day before, but with anti-national slogans highlighted audibly and as on-screen captions. The police requested Zee to submit the footage, upon receiving which they arrested Kanhaiya Kumar on 12th of February. Between 10th and 12th of February, the media had already invited and humiliated Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid (who was the organiser of 9th February event) on their debate shows. As you can see in many videos available online, the TV anchors did not let these students present their views and targeted them and labeled them as 'terrorists'! Fortunately, we do not have to depend only on TV media. Several other videos of speech by Kanhaiya and interviews of JNU students and faculty are available for us to know more about the case. If Kanhaiya was not the organiser of the said event, why was he arrested? If three policemen were present at the event as witness to anti-national activities, why didn't the police arrest Kanhaiya or anybody else same day or next day? Even the police have admitted that the Zee video is the 'only' evidence of charges against Kanhaiya. There's also another version of the same video published by ABP, which exposes manipulation done in Zee video. I cannot confirm which video is true and which one is false, but I can definitely question the police action which is based merely on a suspicious unverified video. Beyond all this, when Kanhaiya was taken to Patiyala House Court for hearing, the lawyers shouted Bharat Mata Ki Jai and attacked him. Kanhaiya was beaten by the lawyers within the court premises and in the presence of entire police force. Even the students and faculty of JNU were beaten. Reporters and journalists at the court were also beaten. No action has been taken against those lawyers and some of them have expressed their wish to 'shoot' Kanhaiya and 'deshdrohis' like him. Please note that the court has not yet declared him guilty in slogan shouting or any other anti-national activity. Still the lawyers want to 'kill' Kanhaiya. ABVP is taking out rallys demanding 'Shut Down JNU'. The media has already declared JNU as a 'Deshdrohiyon ka Adda'. All of this information is gathered through different sources within and outside media. Now coming to my opinion on this case. It is not whether I support JNU students or not. It is that I support the freedom of expression and I question the attempts to kill questioning spirit among students. I condemn the media for declaring someone 'terrorist' without verifying facts. And without understanding how their lust for TRP is going to destroy the lives of these students. Today it is Kanhaiya Kumar, tomorrow it could be me or you. We will be charged based on false reports, we will then be trialed in media before entire nation, without giving us a chance to present our case. Then we will be beaten by the lawyers whom we consider to be part of our judicial system. The idea itself horrifies me. Think about the students who are going through it. Watch Kanhaiya Kumar's 20-minute speech to know about what he is and what he wants. (My views on Kashmir and my definitions of being national and anti-national are separate issues that can be discussed in detail some other time some other place. Right now, let us focus on the JNU and Kanhaiya Kumar case.) I may or may not stand with Kanhaiya Kumar. But I definitely stand against the oppressive attitude of self-declared nationalists. I strongly deny to accept their definitions of national and anti-national. Above all, I believe in the Constitution of India. Period.


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