A young man whose family survives on just Rs 3000 from an anganvadi, his father is confined to a wheelchair, brother makes a living doing odd jobs and his own life depends on the grant he gets as a scholar.
The state throws its full might at him, an obsequious media runs a campaign to brand him an anti-national by doctoring tapes, by putting words in the mouths of camera puppets; thugs in black coats beat him to pulp, cops take him to the brink of ruin, politicians connive to destroy him and keep him jail. Yet, they fail to silence him, break his resolve or subjugate his spirit.
Do we still need further proof of the indomitable spirit of humankind?
Kanhaiya Kumar's decision to remain defiant in distress, fight when surrender seems the pragmatic way out, roar when the system wants him to beg, crawl and squeak, tells us that the future of India is in safe hands. That almost all of Jawaharlal Nehru University turned out to welcome him like a hero back from a war, chorus its approval of his demand for azaadi--not from India, but within India--proves conclusively that those who want to replace the core values of India with their perverse political agendas will have to do much more than they did to Kanhaiya to succeed.
When he spoke-- extempore, for almost an hour, without rancour, amidst laughter, slogans and claps--Kanhaiya sounded like a scholar back from a study trip, sharing his learnings and recounting his experience.
But, in spite of his infectious, optimistic joie de vivre, the symbolism of Kanhaiya's defiance is immense. Hear it in his words.
"Ae mere dost main tumhara (ABVP) witch-hunting nahi karunga. Kyunki shikaar uska kia jaata hai jo shikaar karne laayak ho." (To my friends from the ABVP, I will not indulge in witch-hunting against you. One only targets those who are worth targeting.)
"Iss desh mein jan-virodhi sarkar hai. Uss sarkar ke khilaaf bolenge to inka cyber cell doctored video dikhayega. (The government of this country is anti-people. If you speak against it, the cyber cell will come up with doctored videos.)...And they will count how many condoms are there in your dustbin."
"Hum bole, jo farzi tweet pe statement de raha hai, hum uss se azaadi chahte hain." (I had said that we seek freedom from those who make statements on the basis of fake tweets.)
Combine the three statements. What message do you get? That the establishment can stoop to any absurdity to silence its critics but its rebellious victims will not act out of rancour or hatred, or wreak vengeance on undeserving opponents.
"Iss desh ke 69 per cent logon ne uss maansikta ke khilaaf vote diya hai. Keval 31 per cent log. Aur usme se bhi kuch aapki jumlebaazi mein fass gaye." (Sixty-nine percent of the people of this country voted against this ideology. There were only 31 percent people...And among those, there were those who fell for false slogans."
"Kuch ko to aapne 'Har Har' keh ke thug lia, woh aaj kal 'Arhar' se pareshaan hain." (You misled some with 'har har' (religion), the same people are now worried about 'arhar' (price rise of pulses).
Even Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels would have struggled to find better words in India to argue that proletarians of the world should unite because they outnumber their rivals by a huge margin and have nothing to lose but the oppressive government. And that their numbers may be growing because some of those who got misled by pre-poll slogans may themselves be repenting their choice.
Beware, Kanhaiya is echoing the sound of India.
On Wednesday, for almost an hour after news of interim bail to Kanhaiya Kumar broke, a few TV channels completely ignored it. No live coverage, no breaking news, no information and discussion on what the nation may have wanted to know; not even a ticker, just a stunned silence.
Like surly kids who had lost a game, they retreated into a corner, sulking in full view of the audience. Pigeons burying their heads in the quicksand of shame would have done better.
When he was released from Tihar a day later, students of JNU marched in solidarity with him. Kanhaiya returned to a hero's welcome. He gave a rousing speech, demanding azaadi, among other things, perhaps also from sore losers.
Guess, who were not there to witness the triumph of students, listen to their laughter, quake with their thundering claps?
Writing for The Wire, Siddharth Bhatia says, in hindsight, the manner in which the episode unfolded suggests that things worked to a plan. "Every component occurred swiftly — from the slogans allegedly raised by the students, to the grainy videos, to the expert doctoring, and the conviction with which the BJP’s spokepersons showed them and the statements by ministers. The Delhi police, which otherwise takes its time filing an FIR, was at its efficient best in effecting the arrest but at its usual sluggishness when it came to stopping the assault on Kumar and journalists. The less said about the shameful role of certain sections of the media, the better."
That Kanhaiya is back, that JNU is once again resonating with chants of azaadi proves, like always: Satyamev Jayate.