An intelligent citizen’s guide to the JNU row

Or, why the government should stop worrying when folks like OP Sharma are around

GN Bureau | February 16, 2016


#jnu row   #jnu op sharma   #op sharma  
Protest outside JNU on Tuesday. (Photo by Arun Kumar)

On February 11, a bunch of JNU students gathered at a dhaba in the campus, and spoke of Afzal Guru (convicted of terror charges and hanged on February 9, 2013), Kashmir, BJP and other issues. Outright anti-India slogans were indeed raised, but it is not clear by whom. Several videos are doing rounds: one analysis conclusively shows that those shouting objectionable slogans were from BJP’s student wing, ABVP, and not any left-wing organization. In any case, those who know the leftist organisations know very well that ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ is not a slogan they are known to raise. As far as the JNU Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar is concerned, he did make a speech, whose videos and now even the text is available. He certainly did not make any “anti-India” point. On the contrary, he spoke of his faith in the constitution.

READ: Rubbishing JNU – and some facts as well


These happenings prompted some one to inform the Delhi police, and the police arrested Kumar on charges of sedition, while also filing cases against the “unknowns”.

Now, logically speaking, the following points are incontrovertible facts:

#1 Anti-India slogans were indeed shouted – though mere slogan-shouting does not invite the charge of sedition, according to highly respected jurist Soli Sorabjee, who is not known to be a left-wing anarchist.

#2 In any case, these slogans were shouted by people yet to be identified (and their political affiliation yet to be established), and not by Kanhaiya, who has been behind the bars.

#3 Delhi police is highly pro-active and superefficient.

The arrest immediately led to a big controversy, and political leaders started taking sides. In particular, Rahul Gandhi (whose party led the government when Afzal Guru was hanged) strongly supported the JNU students and faculty, while home minister Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah and other BJP leaders made various critical comments.

In particular, the home minister came up with a remark, that the JNU event had the support of Hafeez Sayeed. There indeed was a tweet to that effect, but from a fake account bearing the Pakistani terrorist mastermind’s name, while Sayeed has gone on to clarify that he had no clue. After this clarification, the home minister stands looking ridiculous which he can’t afford to, so he has taken shelter behind the “intelligence inputs”.

Further, some more points which are incontrovertible facts:

#4 The home minister could have acted a bit more responsibly and checked his sources before making the accusation. If the top leader in charge of internal security can be fooled by a fake Twitter account, then we are in grave danger.

#5 Sedition is a serious allegation, used routinely against cartoonists, pamphleteers and sloganeers, quite frequently in recent times, but also by the previous governments. Notably, the British who gave us this law thought that they were mature enough a democracy to do without it.

On Monday, a mob – including BJP MLA OP Sharma and some people who looked like lawyers – went on rampage, and beat up some JNU faculty members and students, as well as journalists, who were there because Kumar was to be presented before the Patiala House court. Policemen indeed were there, but in spite of requests from JNUites and others, they chose not to intervene. Sharma, meanwhile, is on record saying it is perfectly legitimate to beat up, or even kill, anybody who raises anti-India slogans.

Thus, some more points that should be accepted as facts:

#6 (Correcting #3) Delhi police is highly pro-active and efficient, but only in some cases.

#7 What is anti-national will be decided by Sharma, and others from his party even if their inspiring figures and ideological gurus had somewhat dubious record during the freedom movement when it came to nationalism.

#8 When patriots like Sharma and his party men are around, there is no need to have the sedition law on the statute book. And they will be more efficient than police and quicker than courts in delivering justice.

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