After the uproar of the JNU controversy where an event to commemorate the death anniversary of Afzal Guru – the Parliament attack convict of 2001, hanged in 2013 took a violent turn with sloganeering of anti- slogans of ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ and ‘Bharat ki Barbadi’, life at JNU seems to have succumbed into a fearful and censored commotion. Being branded as JNUites has acquired multiple notions of being “anti-national”. Suffering and grappling with questions of everyday life at JNU, students seem to have been devoid of their primary motive, i.e. ‘education’. The prime leisure of enjoying life at an institution has been disturbed at a very large scale.
It so seems that central universities are being targeted for political uproars and everything seems to be viewed through a political prism. Although, the situation is slowly taking its usual pace, yet subsequent consequences are seen in the form of 2 PCR vans outside and 3 inside the institution along with security personnel checking student ID’s. Students, inside the campus are seen to be rushing to their classes or gathering at the “247 dhaba” to munch over some breakfast and tea, yet changes are such that the only topic being discussed is #ShutDownJNU, a hashtag that started trending after the protest. Visualizing the situation via a rare view mirror, JNU has become more of a battleground for student politics than the prime motive of acquiring education. How can we not be concerned about what the future holds for JNUites when they step out of the institution with a degree in hand but a reputation which is looked down upon? Being patriotic is essential, fighting for one’s rights is essential too but in a forum where we need to acquire education to construct a bright future ahead, would it be the politicians who would get them placed or the student political parties they function under? It so happens, that the ones who are completely disconnected with such upsurges and have struggled really hard to get a seat in the university only and only to acquire education are also clubbed under the brandings of student politics and are viewed through the same lens, they too end up being branded as ‘traitors’. People are more concerned about the reputation of the varsity than the incident itself. Rajdeep Shukla, an MA student, reported to TNN, “how can we be branded as traitors?
It is us students, who have nothing to do with these political battles, who end up suffering the most. Tomorrow, when I apply for a job, I will be declined on the grounds of, `Arey, JNU ka hai, protest karega.’ Incidents like these affect the lives of students who come to JNU purely for education”. Politics and strikes, along with the resulting media attention, are a part of JNU life, but what is bothering the students is the subsequent branding. Another PHD student, Jenny , who was at the 247 dhaba, added, “We are used to protests, sloganeering and hunger strikes. But all of a sudden, we JNU students have been branded as anti-nationals! Why? One group organized an event, a majority of the students had nothing to do with it, but we’re all seen as anti-nationals right now. It’s scary . And the campaign to `shut down’ JNU is also silly why don’t they campaign for other issues?“ as reported to TNN. Another student, L Longchar, said, “JNU has a good academic reputation, but these days, we’re in the news only for the wrong reasons. We were seen as intellectuals earlier, but now we’re branded as rebels”, as reported to TNN.
In a situation of mass scale upsurge, the ambience to lead a normal life at an institution becomes difficult. Where students must be worried about making notes and attending classes dutifully, the major concerns are now shifting to political arenas which might not even be a future plan of many of the students. Sushant Singh, an M.Phil student, said, “Expressing outrage about anything and everything is `in’, it always has been. But the tweets people are posting suggest they think that JNU is nurturing `terrorists’, and this adversely affects our studies”, as reported to TNN. Institutions all around have the fest season in vogue but as far as JNU is concerned, that part is clouded by a series of unwanted political events. How difficult it is when simple happenings of joy are censored by groups which are politically active, you never know what upsets which party and how outrageous they can react to discard a particular event. It’s scary and frustrating to survive in an institution where anything and everything is hyped and repressed at the same time by using political means.
What’s the need of police raj? Why is the government so involved? And why can ABVP not limit themselves to the institution and is acting as the sole trooper of the BJP at large? These are some questions that we need to think over. Such are the questions that help the media to frame the mindsets of the society in a negative way. Such questions downright exclaim the very fact that the institution in focus has or is having criminal records, which apparently isn’t true but the media would play its role and defame the institution by branding it under heinous categories of producing “terrorists” or “anti-nationals”.
It’s the responsibility of the institution’s administration to keep a check over such events and prevent it from becoming political uproars because no matter what at the end of the day we need education to grant us the everyday bread which no students’ union or political party would provide for, only and only education will.