The alumni and teachers of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication have written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemning the attack on students at Jawaharlal Nehru University by a group of masked goons on the evening of January 5.
The attack on the students, the letter says, is against “the basic fabric of law and liberty that our country promises to all its citizens”. The alumni and staff have also criticised a section of the Indian news media for maligning students participating in protests.
“At best, this section of media can be called inept, and at more honest, complicit,” says the letter.
So far, 12 students from the alumni group besides a regional director and an associate professor have signed the letter.
The full letter has been reproduced below
Shri Narendra Damodar Modi Honorable Prime Minister of India
As some of the alumni and teachers of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, we are writing this open letter in our individual capacities to express our solidarity with the students, teachers, and staff of JNU who have been terrorised on the 5th of January, 2020. We consider it our ethical and moral responsibility to do so because this is an assault not against mere individuals, but against the basic fabric of law and liberty that our country promises to all its citizens.
It has begun to emerge as a pattern in the last few months that young students who should have been applauded for their progressive mindset, their outspokenness, and the interest they are taking in the politics of their country, are being met with petty vindictiveness by those they criticise.
The esteemed universities of the country who have made invaluable contributions to it are being singled out and the fury of muscle-power is being unleashed upon them as what we are forced to infer can only be a calculated attempt to dissuade anyone from disagreeing with the present government.
Instead of having a dialogue with them, the state machinery seems focussed upon branding the students with various monikers like ‘anti-nationals’, ‘urban-naxals’, and ‘tukde-tukde gang’ that seek to flame the people of our country against them and serve as a distraction from the government’s own shortcomings.
We also consider it our duty as people associated closely with journalism to admit that we are ashamed of the way a section of Indian news-media has led the fray in hate-mongering and in casting patriotic students as enemies of the state. At best this section of media can be called inept, and at more honest, complicit.
It boggles our minds and outrages us to think what any government or administration can hope to achieve by persecuting its own students. For whose development will this system work when every voice that dares to disagree with it has been silenced? Who will take this country forward when its own leaders have destroyed all the minds that have the potential to do so? How can anyone hope to build a better future for India when all the nation’s resources are being used to mislead people by bombarding them with constant propaganda, instead of being used to combat the very urgent problems this country is facing today?
We are also offended by many eminent personalities who have recently had the audacity of advising students to stick to their syllabi and exams while they themselves continue to spill the venom of communalism in the society every day, and support bigotry sometimes by being silent about it, and at other times by drafting laws to legitimise it. As people who are, or have been, part of the country’s academia, we suggest that students will be able to focus better on their studies when their leaders are better focused on leading the country, rather than on dividing it and fulfilling their ill-begotten ideological dreams.
Finally, it is important to point out that the powers-that-be would do well to remember that the current as well as future students of institutes and universities all over the country, like IIMC, who are witnessing the brutal assault and persecution of students from JNU, Jamia, AMU, etc. will be tomorrow’s journalists, newspersons, civil servants, engineers, entertainers, etc. It does not look wise to alienate the future of this country for some misguided notions of addressing grievances from the distant past, imaginary or otherwise.
We hope that our beloved country would emerge out of these dark and chaotic times with its secular and intellectual principles intact and stronger than ever. We would like to request the government, and also the people of India to learn from world history and try to rise above vindictive agendas in favour of aiming at a harmonious and peaceful co-existence.
The struggle of JNU’s students continues to inspire us and makes us proud to be citizens of India.
Signed, Alumni and Staff, IIMC