Make this your homepage
Home > Column
The JNU Circus
Dr Ashok Sinha
The JNU Circus
PHOTO : JNU Circus : Students holding Afzal Guru's poster and chanting anti-national slogans

Freedom of speech is one of the pillars of the Constitution of India and one of the Fundamental Rights we Indians enjoy. In extension of that freedom, the Media in India enjoys freedom which would make many countries jealous. In the last few days, both these freedoms have come to be questioned. We are confused, how much freedom is enough? Is there a line which cannot be crossed? When Law and conscience do not agree, which side do you lean on? What happened in JNU, may not be sedition in the eyes of law, but the heart disagrees.

The story unfolded when some students of JNU New Delhi sought permission for a cultural program from the authorities and decided to stage a protest rally in support of Afzal Guru, one of the master minds of Parliament House attack.

Getting information from the ABVP on what was going to happen, the University authorities cancelled permission for the gathering.

However the students carried on, disregarding the cancellation. These students, mostly Leftist and some Kashmiris got together and shouted slogans which were recorded and went viral on the internet.

The Media houses picked up the tab and the nation was shaken by what went on during the rally. The slogans were very loud and clear. To quote a few, Afzal Gurus hanging was described as judicial hanging, they wanted to fulfill the dream of Afzal Guru, they wanted freedom for Kashmir, they shouted go back India; they shouted Pakistan Zindabad and also promised to make a hundred pieces of India. These slogans coming from some Kashmiri groups would not have surprised anyone but these came from students of the premiere university of the country, which shocked people. Some of these slogans were understandable, some were not.

A Kashmiri group shouting ‘pro azadi’ freedom slogans, is not new, but never heard in the university. The students have absolute right to question the method which was employed in the judicial process of Afzal Guru Case, there is nothing wrong.

But to call it a judicial murder is showing complete lack of faith in the judicial system of the country and that I think, is stretching the issue a bit too far.  Then there is the question of fulfilling the dream of Afzal Guru. What, pray, was his dream? Afzal Guru, as he himself admitted openly, was instrumental in planning the attack on the Indian Parliament with a view to kill the Members of the Parliament and the Government. Is this what the JNU students aspire to achieve?

Things turn a bit serious here and sound a bit too much of revolutionary idea. The next slogan is much clearer; they want to destroy India completely. They also said ‘Go back India’. Go back from where? May be they were talking about Kashmir and hopefully not Delhi. The final slogan was absolutely clean. They said Pakistan Zindabad.

There is nothing wrong in it by itself. We want, all of us want Pakistan to survive and do well as a peaceful country. Why only Pakistan, we want zindabad for Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, USA and even North Korea. All should do well and be good peaceful countries for their people. But when one screams ‘Barbadi’ for India and ‘Zindabad’ for Pakistan, things become a tiny bit murky.  In the name of freedom of speech, such travesty may not be accepted by the people.

People who had organized this rally knew exactly what they were doing; it was a well planned and executed action. There was nothing sudden or spontaneous about it. They knew exactly what the reactions would be like. If one analyses the back ground of the participants, one would know the motive. Some of them were obviously from Jammu and Kashmir, have faith in the Two Nation Theory; believe that India is an occupying force there and they want Freedom. Their motive is clear and understandable.

The others in the rally were from the Leftist students organizations. Their motive is also clear. The Left has always been outside the mainstream Indian thought process. The Left supported the British during Quit India movement; they worked as fifth column of the British and betrayed Congress workers. Before partition, Left was the only party other than Muslim League who supported the two nation theory. They had clearly opined that in a Hindu Majority India, Muslims would not be able to live with dignity. During the China war, the Left was ready to welcome the Chinese army with open arms. Therefore, their slogans were in line with their political character.

Why I choose to write today, is not because of the slogans, but the actions of the state, the national parties and the media after the incidence.

If the incidence by itself was shameful, what happened after the incidence was more shameful and caused more harm to the nation. The childish reaction of the chocolate cream soldier politicians have actually demeaned India more that the slogan shouting clowns. The state cannot act based on emotions, the state cannot get angry, the state cannot make knee jerk reactions and expose the lack of political maturity of the people in power.  Just imagine the Home Minister of India, the largest democracy of the world, thundering, “This will not be tolerated” on some slogans in a University campus; childish, very childish indeed.  To follow this up by sending police into the University to arrest and search for absconders is further sign of their political immaturity. The BJP Government played into the hands of the CPI-M.  Because of this, what was could be a simple case of some over enthusiastic students’ calculated adventurism, turned into an international issue of freedom of speech in a University versus the state.  

If anyone commits sedition, it is the duty of the state to apprehend them, make a complete inquiry and approach the courts. Whatever the court decides, everyone accepts or appeals, that’s how a democracy runs. There is a fundamental difference between sedition in Law and sedition as per your conscience.

Our country is not Pakistan, the country the sloganeers were praying for. A Virat Kohli fan, in his excitement, raised an Indian flag in Pakistan, he’s been sent to ten years of imprisonment. But our country is civilized, our laws are civilized, here a mere slogan shouting is not counted as sedition, however much you dislike the slogans. You and I are not students of law, but the Police must know, the Home Department must know, what constitutes sedition. When Kanhaiya reaches the courts, he would be released unconditionally and would become a hero. Who benefits when such characters are idolized?  All these happened as a result of the stupidity of some immature, trigger happy politicians and some ‘more loyal than the king’ Police officers.  

The CPI-M got exactly what they wanted from this incidence. They received exposure; they showed what they stand for and also won against the most powerful MODIJI. They exposed the immaturity of the ruling party politicians and received support from interesting quarters. CPI-M wanted to show the world that India has differences and wanted to demoralize the country, they have succeeded. They also tried in Kolkata, but no one bothered. The Indian media, those who screamed against the students and those who supported the students, played into the hands of the CPI-M. A small incidence was blown out of proportion, the social media added more fuel into it. Round goes to the CPI-M.

Trying to play secular and freedom loving, the Congress unfortunately played into the hands of the CPI-M. Its leadership, not very famous for clarity of thought and expression, could not convey anything to the nation other than that they support the CPI-M on this issue by playing second fiddle to Mr. Prakash Karat. The CPI-M would of course support the students, because it was their game plan. But why did the Congress leadership go there, in whose support? Is there any doubt that what the students did that night, illegal or not, ethically wrong? What was the necessity of running there to support them, why with the CPI-M? On whose side is the Congress, the erring students or the conscience of the nation; it was a grave mistake.

The action of the Home Minster of India was wrong. Like a Don Quixote he went about swinging his sword and made a mockery of the state apparatus. What was the need to send the Police into the University? That single action alienated us internationally; it is not done, unless there is a grave emergency and trust me you, there was none. The Congress could have just said that and not supported the students’ behavior. The Government could have asked the Vice Chancellor to take appropriate action after proper investigation. If necessary and they do it often, they could have created pressure on the University administration to throw out a few students from the Varsity. That would have been sufficient punishment. But now, the issue would be here in front of the people for months, media would earn TRP and in the end, as the Laws of India suggests, Kanhaiya would come out a free man and a hero.

The Teachers and the students of JN University must realize that there is a thin line between what is acceptable and what is not, to the people. They have crossed that line and they must be taught a lesson. The students who organized the rally are equally responsible. But that lesson should have come from the teachers of the University and not the state. By sending Police into the University the BJP Government has muddied the issue. Count this as a success of the CPI-M.  

The demand that a student cannot be arrested is absurd. There is no separate provision for the students in the Constitution of India or IPC. If there is an allegation against a student and if that allegation is serious enough to call for an arrest, the police should and must arrest. After a proper investigation, approach the courts and obey what the courts say, that’s civil. The question is whether the Police actually researched whether the incidence calls for such an arrest; whether there is any chance of conviction. In the present scenario, when the CPI-M student Kanhaiya comes out of the court with his head held high, another point would be scored by the CPI-M.  The limit of foolishness has been reached.

By assaulting Kanhaiya inside the court premises, the BJP supported Lawyers have shown the same amount of dumbness as their national leaders. Such lawlessness cannot be accepted. It should be mandatory that all these lawyers have a minimum thinking capacity. Who did they actually help by this stupid act, the CPI-M of course? Another point scored by the party.

The ‘National’ parties of India have no clue about the reality of the CPI-M. That is why Congress danced with the CPI-M and went to JNU together. The Congress and BJP should know, when the CPI-M acts in any fashion, it measures the strength and weaknesses of the opposition first. CPI-M expected BJP to suddenly turn over-patriotic, it did. The CPI-M expected Congress, in its urge to oppose the BJP, to dance with the CPI-M and it did.

CPI-M has put a rope into BJPs nose and is making it dance according to its tune. But why is the Congress dancing?


Dr Ashok Sinha is an eminent Doctor based at Agartala, also State Congress spokesperson, an intellectual reknowned for social service 

To send your appreciation and comments pl. send email to or  or post online below.

Add your Comment
comments powered by Disqus
Comments (0)

Special Articles

Sanjay Majumder Sanjay Majumder
Anirban Mitra Anirban Mitra