ANVESHAN STATEMENT: In Solidarity with the Struggle against the Assault on JNU

recent incidents of a police crackdown and the arrest of the Student Union
President, Kanhaiyya Kumar, on charges of sedition, at the Jawaharlal Nehru
University in New Delhi are a shocking assault of the State
on the ‘Freedom of Expression’ and the ‘Right to Dissent’. Universities are
necessarily sites of dialogue and dissent, rethinking of ideas and philosophies
and re-imagination of the people, society and nation. This is in spirit of the
ethos of critical thinking, deeply embedded in the Constitution of the country
and any attempt to stifle such a democratic culture through arrests of students
without substantive evidence is grossly unconstitutional and guided by the
draconian ideas of witch-hunting under McCarthyism, experienced in the US in the

The events in JNU should not be viewed in isolation but are part of the larger ploy
by the present ruling dispensation to destroy the culture within educational
institutions of interrogating any form of exploitation and marginalization that
exists within the country. Developments in recent past in FTII, IIT Madras,
University of Hyderabad and many other institutions all point to the zeal with
which the government and authorities have censored and brutalized students,
including the ‘institutional murder’ of Rohith Vemula. JNU, in the heart of the
Capital, has historically played a central role in questioning the
establishment and regressive ideas in the society, ever since the days of the
Emergency. The underlying attempt to muzzle all forms of dissent in the country
will assume a loud and sinister message to all progressive voices, if such a
censorship and sanitization of the ‘discourse’ can be successfully carried out
in JNU.

destruction of critical thinking beyond doubt depletes the analytical rigour
within our public universities and educational institutions and thereby erodes
their academic standards. This serves the brazen interests of the international
corporate capital which is seeking to gain a foothold in the education sector
in the country, backed by the anti-people neo-liberal policies of the

a multi-religious, multi-lingual and multi-ethnic country like India, inspired
by the spirit of the freedom struggle, plurality and tolerance has been crucial
in the ‘making of the nation’ after independence. Such a nation-building
exercise is necessarily a continuous process as newer and multiple, and often
conflicting, imaginations of the ‘nation’ join the discourse on ‘nationalism’.
Without such inclusiveness and dialogue, the question of language itself would
have split the country in many different pieces immediately after independence.
Unfortunately, the ruling BJP-led NDA government is adhering to a monolithic
and ossified notion of ‘Hindu Nationalism’, propagated by the RSS fraternity,
which never participated in the long struggles against British Imperialism. The
proclamation of ‘Hindu Nationalism’ in a multi-religious country is hideously
unconstitutional and potentially can divide the nation perpetually.

frenzied debate led by the Hindutva brigade and its allies in the media on ‘who
is an anti-national’, smacks of intolerant binaries and drastically curbs the
space for dissent. Any dissent today is liable to face a lynch-mob, deeply
intoxicated and drenched in a fascist ideology. Further, it also diverts the
attention of the people from the question of development and marginalization,
planks on which the Modi Government came to power in 2014. Failures in adopting
pro-people development policies is being sought to be veiled by fascistic and
hysterical propaganda based on false binaries.

as a group of academics and researchers, deeply condemns such fascist designs
to divide the nation and the unconstitutional assault on the culture of debates
and dissent. We express our solidarity with the students’ and teachers’
struggles in JNU for the unconditional release of the JNUSU President, dropping
of sedition charges and against any witch-hunting of students engaged in
peaceful dialogues and protests. We strongly stand committed to the principle
of tolerance, the right to dissent, and for ‘Unity in Diversity’.

Rahman, Arindam Banerjee, Arjun Sengupta, Chirashree Dasgupta, Indrani
Mazumdar, Indranil Mukhopadhyay, Jesim Pais, Jyotsna Singh, Neha Mishra,
Rityusha Tiwary, Satyaki Roy, Sona Mitra, Surajit Das, Surajit Mazumdar, Valay