“JNU, financed by the national exchequer, is being massively misused, with total impunity, as a spring-board to launch a heinous sabotage for another partition of India.” – A JNU Professor in 1996
Two decades ago, when Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student union president Kanhaiya Kumar and his comrades were still learning the basics of algebra, unaware of the grammar of politics, a professor of their future alma mater was writing a letter highlighting ‘anti-national’ activities taking place in the JNU campus; something for which Kumar would be accused of, exactly 20 years later.
On 7 February, 1996, Badal Ghana Chakravorty, Associate Professor, Department of German, wrote a letter to the registrar of JNU with a subject matter – 'Rampant anti-national activities of the agents of Pakistan on JNU campus – that gives an eerie sense of déjà vu.
The text of the letter is alarming for the allegations made in it. In the letter, Chakravorty wrote, “The agents of Pakistan have become vigorously assertive on the issue of Kashmir in recent times. The valley of Kashmir, following total physical liquidation of all the non-Muslims, has practically become an all-Muslim territory. This has emboldened the agents of Pakistan on the J.N.U campus to intensify their vicious campaign for a full-scale secession of Kashmir from India,"
"A seminar was held on 15 November, where a full-throated declaration was made for another partition of India. According to my information, armed terrorists, staying as guests in Aravali and Gomti, were present with arms hidden on their persons. Some terrorists are staying unauthorised in different hostels even today. Kindly press I.B. into immediate action,” Chakravorty wrote.
The letter forms a part of compilation of ‘proofs’ to stress on how JNU has been a centre of ‘intense anti-national activities’ for a long time and how the university administration had “turned a blind eye to it”.
The dossier put together by a group of teachers of JNU was submitted to the university administration last year. It consists of articles, speeches made by some JNU faculty and students, posters of the numerous events and seminars, and also press releases by Delhi police “highlighting the presence of anti-national elements on campus".
One such press release, dated 10 April 1991 reads, “The Delhi police has uncovered a major international conspiracy involving persons based in UK, Canada, USA, and Nepal, working at the behest of elements in Pakistan, of funding militancy in J&K. The Delhi police arrested Ashfaq Hussain Lone, a top ranking operator of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, in Delhi and Sahabuddin Gori, a JNU student using the cover of Human Rights activists. Gori was acting as a conduit for funds and communications with terrorists in Kashmir. Rs 16.27 lakhs and incriminating documents have been recovered. The money and the documents were intended to be delivered to terrorists in the valley for expanding their subversive activities.”
The question of ‘some students misusing the tax-payers money’ fomented strong reactions during the entire debate following the 9 February incident. But Chakravorty’s letter is much more scathing than the assertions made by certain sects of the civil society in last few months.
He writes, “Madam Registrar, I am writing these lines more in anguish than in anger. JNU, financed by the national exchequer, is being massively misused, with total impunity, as a spring-board to launch a heinous sabotage for another partition of India.”
While some of the papers and articles in the dossier smacks of strong prejudices as it makes ‘baseless and salacious allegations’ against some eminent professors of the universities, letters like that of Badal Ghana Chakravorty, however, points to the fact that allegations of JNU being the ‘hub of anti-national’ activates’ is nothing new.
One of the articles talks about an incident that took place in the year 2000, which can be corroborated by a notice issued by the dean's office condemning the incident, that has also become a part of JNU folklore.
“In April 2000, an Indo-Pak Mushaira was organised in JNU campus ostensibly as a poetic event, but actually to malign and belittle the Indian victory in the Kargil war of 1999. Two army majors (in civilian dress) who were visiting their friends in JNU were witness to pro-Pakistan slogans. The two army majors, who had just fought in the Kargil heights against Pakistan reacted to such slogans and got beaten up by the student mob that was instigated by anti-national elements in JNU “, the article read.
While the dossier, for the major part, puts together several documents to show how events like that on 9 February have been a routine rather than an aberration.
Some of the posters, photocopies of which are part of the dossier, read, “Tum Kitne AFZAL maarogay, ghar ghar se AFZAL niklega. On the first martyr day of Shahid Afzal Guru. Mashaal Jaloos. 8 Feb(Saturday) from Ganga Dhaba 9pm and protest march :DSU”.
“Kashmir needs no 'sensitivity' Kashmir demands Azadi – the final report submitted by the group of interlocutors for J&K reeks of Indian state’s big nation chauvinism. Article 370 or ‘special status’ can no longer contain Kashmir's aspirations for freedom,” read the poster.
Apart from targeting the students, the dossier also made serious allegations against some of the faculty members of JNU. The dossier has a photocopy of the news report titled – 'Two day-International Kashmir conference begins in Muzaffarabad'.
Also included are reports that state that attendees included Professor Anuradha Chenoy, and has a remark written on it which read, “Government of India employees and officers not allowed to enter into Muzaffarabad (POK). But how professor Anuradha Chenoy and Kamal Chenoy visa were alloed(Sic). It adds, "Prof Chenoy involved in anti=national activities (Sic)."
The dossier also claims that some eminent professors like Nevedita Menon, Ranjani Mazumdar, Kumkum Roy are engaged in ‘anti-national’ activities by getting “involved in seminar for free Kashmir”.
Close reading of these papers makes it clear that the allegations made are not backed by documented proofs, but rather are based on assumptions and subjective readings of the political positions of these faculty members.
What is most striking in the collection is a paper that makes serious allegations against students in JNU. It reads, “Over 300 Kashmiri and north-east separatist activists are staying illegally in the hostels of JNU. They are the main force behind organising (anti) India activities, protest demonstration, talks and lectures by separatist’s leaders in JNU campus. Beef eating festival, Mahishaswar Diwas and hate campaigns are a regular feature in hostel activities and various seminars/lectures organised by known anti-India elements.”
“Of late, the focus of DSU, AISA etc has been to highlight the cause Azadi (independence) for Kashmir, mass grave and enforced disappearances, martyrdom of Maqbool Bhat and Afzal Guru, recently on 9 February, 2014 a huge Mashal procession was organised in JNU campus in the evening by Prof Ayesha Kidwai, Prof Anuradha Chenoy and Prof Kamal Mitra Chenoy through their front organisations (DSU,AISA),"
"These three faculty members have recruited over hundred students (for instance Ms. Deepti Tamang, Ms Priyadarshini, Rauf, Umar Khalid, Iqbal Majeed Bhat, Dawa Sherpa, Rona Wilson Shehla Rashid... are the most vocal slogan raisers) and activists by feeding then with funds, alcohol and other facilities like placements in different NGO’s, civil society groups, institutes that are run in India with the funding of Ford Foundation, foreign agencies, Action Aid, Oxfam etc,” the paper read.
The most serious allegation made by the paper was about how few academics like Ayesha Kidwai, Prof Kamal Mitra Chenoy and Prof Anuradha Chenoy “are misusing JNU and their coveted position of senior teachers in the university for propagating secessionism in Kashmir and North-East, legitimising and rationalising terrorist activities in these states, stoking the fires of hate and anti-national sentiments by organising seminars, lectures, issuing pamphlets, posters, publications and nukkad nataks, rallies demonstrations, sit ins, hunger strikes and strikes in JNU for several years without any fear.”
The reason attributed for doing all this in the paper is “to attack Indian sovereignty in Kashmir, North-East” and to “keep the Indian state as a destabilised state.” And the paper goes on to say that they are doing so by “recruiting young minds in JNU campus and elsewhere by addicting them to night parties/revelries, alcohol and cash payments to carry forward their agenda.”
The article concludes, “And in this process JNU has become a den of organised sex racket in which some hostel karamcharis, maid servants, beauty parlours run in Munirka village and the activists of DSF, DSU, AISA and other rouge elements are coordinating their activities.”
Hari Ram Mishra, Assistant Professor, Special Centre for Sanskrit Studies, who helped compile the dossier says, “We compiled these papers over the time just to highlight the fact that how badly the campus has been affected by anti-national activities. We just wanted that this campus, which is known for its great academic work, is cleansed of any wrong activities.”
When asked who is the author of the article that talks about JNU as a ‘den of organised sex racket’ he said that he "has no idea who wrote it.”
After the JNU administration rusticated Anirban Bhattacharya and Umar Khalid and imposed fines on Kanhaiya Kumar and others on Monday, a second round of struggle by students has already started. While all JNU student and teacher associations defended Kumar and the other accused students in the entire episode, some of the revelations made in the dossier do raise serious questions on the nature of politics in the campus.