NEW DELHI: Asserting that they are perplexed at the recent "outraged" events at JNU, foreign scholars have asked the Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar about reasons behind him "jumping to unwarranted conclusions".
Michael Lambek, FRSC Canada Research Chair, University of Toronto, in an email to JNU VC, has said, "Canadian scholars are perplexed, saddened, and outraged at recent events at JNU. Why have you abrogated the fundamental principle of free speech on your campus? Why have you jumped to unwarranted conclusions and why have you called so precipitously on the police?"
In another communication to the VC, Diana L Eck, Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies at Harvard University, has said, "It is astonishing and deeply troubling to see that the lively discussion of critical issues at JNU has resulted in the arrest and detention of the JNU Students' Union president Kanhaiyya Kumar on charge of sedition."
"Is this a term that can be used in the context of a modern and distinguished University? Is it consistent with the character of a democratic nation or of a great university like JNU to criminalise dissent and bring police to the campus?
"We at Harvard have had difficult times of dissent and harsh criticism of the government and of the University itself. This is part of the free exchange of ideas and the freedom of speech that is necessary for the free institutions of democracy to thrive," she added.
Diana further said, "the perception that the Indian state is increasingly resorting to intervention to suppress views it finds threatening is itself threatening. Please do not acquiesce in this move to undermine a great university like JNU."
Jawaharlal Nehru University is caught in a row over an event in the campus against the hanging of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, where "anti-national" slogans were alleged to have been raised. The varsity’s students union president Kanhaiya Kumar, is in judicial custody in a sedition case in connection with the February 9 event.