After a spate of violence following student union elections, Jawaharlal Nehru University’s students remains on edge as several people, including newly elected president N. Sai Balaji, allege that the administration’s newly imposed security measures are actually a tool of surveillance meant to curtail students’ freedom on campus.
The Left alliance’s decisive victory over the ABVP sparked violence across several hostels and dhabas on campus – with at least four students ending up hospitalised and several police reports filed over the last three days. While the Left alleges ABVP members are behind the violence, the latter has hit back saying its members were attacked by Left-affiliated students.
Yesterday, JNU’s administration announced new security measures with no end-date, including a ban on public gatherings on campus, no entry for non-JNU students post 10pm and even then no entry for anyone unless they present a valid ID card. The measures go as far as requiring ID proof to buy food coupons and eateries on campus have been closed for the time being as well.
According to this report in the Times of India, students feel that they’re being subjected to a curfew-like situation with police and paramilitary personnel stationed at all the campus gates and media personnel banned from entering campus.
“The university has banned gatherings and protests and the campus bears a deserted look. A woman member of the left had to face sexist statements from ABVP members. It is like section 144 has been imposed without formal orders,” a student told TOI.
Condemning the current situation as a “virtual emergency,” Balaji accused the administration of being hand in glove with the ABVP “to create an environment of terror, anarchy and chaos in the campus.”
The Indian Express quoted defense minister, and JNU alum, Nirmala Sitharam, as saying that forces within JNU’s campus are “waging war against India” and that these people were also seen with Balaji, the elected president of the student union.
During her interaction with journalists at the Indian Women’s Press Corps, Sitharaman said: “The kind of things happening in the last years have not been encouraging at all. It is very different to have a party, whose ideology I may not agree (with), but the way in which they have probably got led by forces which are anti-India – when I say anti-India, definitely it is a stated position they are waging a war against India in their pamphlets and their brochures.”
Expressing “dismay” against Sitharaman’s statements, the JNUSU president, said in a Facebook post, “As a former student of this university and as a senior minister, such statements calling JNUSU members anti-India and ‘waging a war against India’ is utterly baseless and condemnable.”
“We see this as a continuation of the systematic slander against the JNU students and faculty that has resulted in numerous attacks on students and teachers, such as the one on Sanjay Kumar in Motihari, Bihar or elsewhere. Time and again the imagined category of “anti-national” has been invoked by the ruling dispensation to malign and clamp down upon voices of resistance, may it be Bhima Koregaon or the Pathalgadi movement,” he added.
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