NEW DELHI: Jawaharlal Nehru University is a house divided. A week after 10 students decided to hold a protest against the “judicial killing” of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru and Kashmir separatist Maqbool Butt, students and teachers stand in solidarity with the JNU Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar, while about 500 non-teaching employees have taken the side of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).
Chanting Vandematram, the JNU Staff Association (JNUSA) demanded stern punishment to those students who are “sympathisers of terror and are anti-India voices.”
Out of the 10 schools of study in JNU, eight remained deserted on Monday due to a voluntary boycott of classes.
A large number of students and, teachers gathered at the Administration Block of the varsity, expressing their apprehensions about the neutrality of the probe ordered by the university and demanding the release of Kumar.
The internal committee constituted by the university to probe the matter will submit its report in two weeks. Till then eight students have been debarred from attending academic activities.
The Enquiry Committee, comprising of professor Rakesh Bhatnagar, Himadri Bohidar and Suman K. Dhar, will submit a preliminary report.
“The committee even before following due process has debarred eight students from all academic activity. When the case is already prejudged, how can the committee conduct any fair investigation? JNUSU is of the opinion that the committee is not interested in investigating the issue, but in demonizing credible student leaders,” said Shehla Rashid Shora, vice-president of JNUSU.
A majority of the 700 teachers have called for a strike tomorrow in protest against the Delhi Police action and the “biased attitude of the government”.
“Nobody supports anti-nationals or supports disintegration of the nation, but the autonomy of the university is under attack. The police cannot just come in and pick anyone up whenever they feel like. We have our internal mechanism which is well equipped to deal with the situation” Ajai Patnaik, president of JNU Teachers Association (JNUTA) told Express.
JNU vice-chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar said, “The JNU administration did not call the police. We only allowed them to enter the campus as per the law. The university is well known for debate and discussion. Strikes will not help, talks will. The inquiry committee will submit its report in about two weeks.”
“It's incorrect to say that JNU student and faculty are supporting the strike. There is no doubt in calling this strike illegitimate. Regarding the JNU faculty, the opinion is divided. Yes, it's unfortunate that a section of JNUTA has come out in support of the pro-Afzal group,” said the JNU Student Union’s only ABVP member and joint secretary Saurabh Sharma.
VHP leader Sadhvi Prachi also visited the university to express solidarity with the ABVP members, but was stopped at the gates.
Prachi said, “Freedom of expression does not mean you can say anything against the country. D Raja's daughter, who was also part of the protest, should be arrested. Raja supports terrorists. Rahul's mother needs to answer the nation what the definition of nationalism is. They live on India's money and praise Pakistan.”
Meanwhile, the university has sent a status report to the HRD ministry, along with the action taken. The report has spelt out in detail the events leading to the stoking of the controversy on the JNU campus.