JNU Row: A Manufactured Crisis – Dr Adfar Shah

Dr Adfar Shah

The monster of media trial in everything in this democratic country, along with the efforts to turn the huge and archaic term like sedition to common sense and everyday use and communalizing academic spaces is becoming a dangerous trend with undesirable ramifications. For a section of media perhaps everything in the country has become Deshdroh and every student is Desh Drohi but the social realities are different and anger, emotion and mistakes or confusion cannot be sedition all at once. The recent JNU crisis has helped a liberal Indian to crystallize many intriguing questions than supplying usual biased answers based in religion, region, caste, class, etc. Also the complexities of the state response to the crisis and a few unsatisfactory answers to thorny questions that do exist have revealed their insensitivity and our social rupture, media’s TRP craze, leader’s politicizing pain and thus turning the JNU incident into a monster which it never was. Perhaps one thing that the whole country’s academic space has to understand is to define the limits of so called cultural events and redefine the idea of free speech and reassign the limits of student activism and politics which is taking a bad shape for it is being maligned and used by vested interests for their own politics. Currently we see student politics on campuses has remained nothing but party politics and the associated hatred with it. What actually fuelled anti-national slogans in JNU and who voiced such slogans continues to be a mystery despite arrests and so much hype on such arrests later. The nation’s majority still is confused in the name of heavy terms like anti-nationalism, sedition, etc,. Seeing the level of intolerance for students, brazen and shameless attack on Kanahya and media hatred for Umar Khalid and his friends or for that matter Kashmiris, one feels are we also a Pakistan in making and seeing so called lawyers attacking the arrested student and continuous police failure, one perceives that are we actually the victims of law and order problem and need more efficient policing and smart intelligence. Worst of all the politics of patriotism has marred our integrity and actually divided people and empowered goons enough to attack even students. We still lack inclusivity in our patriotism and keep discriminating the peripherals of this country by branding and labeling them. Every Indian with proud says ‘Kashmir Hamara Hai’ or Northeast hamara hai but what about ‘the Kashmiri’ or the masses of the northeast who are branded ,labeled and insulted every now and then. Let the nation say ‘Kashmiri Hamara Hai’ and start loving Kashmiris and northeast people rather than just feeling proud upon the geography or land of Kashmir or other peripheries. To begin with, State needs to curb the troll brigade, moral brigades, hate brigades, radical brigades and other fearless violent fringes who keep on abusing even authors, women, leaders, and spare none. The culture of abusive social networking and vulgarity of language and hurried media trials have to be stopped so that the limits of free speech can be recreated and events like anti-national sloganeering do not get encouraged anywhere in India. On Deshdroh discourse and its political hype, we all Indians must understand that a few slogans can never shake this mighty nation’s integrity and therefore must be put to oblivion and set the students free. At least every Indian has a right to security and right to question the system at place, after all we are a democracy.

(This article first appeared in Eurasia Review)

(Author is a Delhi based Sociologist and Associate Editor at Eurasia Review and Analyst World)

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