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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Solidarity with JNU students

Bangalore Research Network's Letter of Solidarity with JNU

We, the undersigned members of the Bangalore Research Network and a consortium of academics and researchers from Bangalore, declare our solidarity with the students and faculty of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi protesting the illegal police arrest of JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar on charges of sedition. We unequivocally stand by them in affirming that universities are autonomous spaces for the free expression of a plurality of beliefs and cannot become military spaces of thought control that go against the very grain of a democratic society.  With them, we condemn the blatantly authoritarian attempt by the police and the central government to witch hunt students on the basis of their political beliefs. We also condemn the unethical media trial of JNU students such as Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid. Read more…


Statement of Solidarity with Students in JNU, India – by students in KU Leuven, Belgium

, students in the social sciences and humanities programs at KU Leuven, strongly condemn the Indian state's heavy handed and politically motivated action against the students at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi.

We condemn the brutal police action against students, especially thearrest of JNU Students' Union (JNUSU) president, Kanhaiya Kumar on 12 February 2016 – who has been charged under colonial-era sedition laws. We equally condemn the witch-hunt against and media trialsagainst JNU, its faculty, and its students – especially Umar Khalid, an atheist-Leftist activist, who is wrongfully being called an 'Islamist' by some in the media.

Over the last few months, Indian universities have become a crucial site to contest and resist the arbitrary and concerted efforts of the Indian state to quash academic autonomy and dissent – from the scrapping ofnon-NET fellowships in 2015, to the death of Dalit PhD scholar Rohith Vemula at the Hyderabad Central University, earlier in January.

We underscore the fact that universities have historically been sites of critical thinking and politics, and need to remain the same. Furthermore, as the recent cases in India have shown, it is often students from under-privileged backgrounds who raise critical questions against the workings of the state, and also question structures of privilege within universities, in peaceful and non-violent ways.

The government and police action against the students at JNU seriously undermines and threatens these values. These (re)actions are based on questionable facts and charges of anti-nationalism and sedition. Indeed, no is within the space of the university that ideas of the 'nation' – who is included within it, and who is excluded – can be questioned and debated.

Manipur Solidarity Statement for JNU

We, the undersigned, are appalled by the conduct of the present regime against Jawaharlal Nehru University where students are being hunted down for debating on an issue which is also close to the heart of Manipur.

There is critical need for deepening dialogue on the very idea of India so that many nations and nationalities have space for their expressions rather than stifling them within a very narrow definition of India. There are very few institutions in India where such a debate can take place, and a healthy debate will allow India to be critical of itself ensuring a more vibrant multicultural and multi-national India.

We strongly believe that universities must be non-militarized spaces where students and teachers are able to freely engage on topics such as the one that took place in JNU. They must not be suppressed ideologically and militarily in the name of national security. Back here, there is military occupation in the heart of Manipur University. Yes, in the name of security. And it is time the military completely withdraws away from the sites of learning and knowledge.

From Concerned Citizens of Gujarat to the President of India on JNU Incidents

MEMORANDUM  To  Shri Pranab Mukherji, The President of India,New Delhi, India


We the citizens of Gujarat would like to share our deep concern about the series of happenings from 9th of February to 18th of February.

While dissociating ourselves from anti India pro Pakistan slogans in JNU campus, we are horrified to watch the unprecedented authoritarian arm twisting punitive measures like witch hunt in the campus and slapping Sedition Charge on President of JNU Students Union, Mr. Kanhaiya Kumar by the BJP led NDA Govt at Centre as per the direction of Home Minister Mr. Rajnath Singh and Human resources Minister Smt. Smriti Irani.

The police interference in JNU Campus, slapping the Sedition Charge on the President of JNU students Union Mr. Kanhaiya is condemnable.

The chain of incidents of hooliganism, like repeated attack on Kanhaiya Kumar in Patiala house court, attack on teachers and students, journalists, hooting the Supreme Court appointed five members panel as anti-National by the forces in the presence of police appeared to be backed by the ruling party BJP and its' outfits expose the absence of safety of the citizens even in the court premises. This open terrorizing tactics has been prompted by the Govt. in power, police and hoodlums to send a loud message to scuttle the freedom of expression endanger democracy and democratic institutions in our country.

Defying the Supreme Court's order tantamounting to contempt, the repeated attacks on Kanhaiya Kumar and journalists is nothing but the fascist onslaught to muzzle the voices of dissent.   Casting anyone anti- BJP and anti-Govt as anti- national and any one pro BJP as patriots is to say the least, quite ridiculous.

The attackers like BJP MLA O.P Sharma, numbers of so- called black coat worn advocates like Mr.Vikram Chauhan are moving freely and side by side the lies are fabricated to mislead the people in the name of Nationalism and patriotism.

There are worldwide condemnation including in our country against of arrests, sedition charge, attacks on journalists, academician but all these have no effect on the attitude of the Govt. and the authority.

We the citizens endorse the voices raised by concerned citizens across the country and world.

Under this circumstances we would like to reiterate that Universities are the space for open debates and polemics and we request your intervention to save the democracy, autonomy of the universities, safeguard the freedom of expression and provide security to all citizens.

 We demand

  • Release of Kanhaiya Kumar
  • Repeal of sedition charge
  • Stop police interference in universities
  • The security of all citizens, media persons be ensured
  • Arrest the BJP MLA and  lawyers like Vikram Chauhan and other identified persons responsible for attacks
  • Institute impartial inquiry into the whole affair.

The Right to Reason and Imagine: Architects in Solidarity with the JNU Community

To: The JNU Teachers Association, JNU Students Union

CC: Vice Chancellor, JNU

We, the undersigned, are writing this in utmost shock and despair regarding the recent events and developments at your campus. We want to extend our full support to the JNU teachers association and the democratically elected JNU Student Union. We believe there is a difference between the nation, the state and the government of the day, and fully support your constitutional right to air your positions, as different or diverse as they may be, without illegal interference from any particular ruling ideology, party or state machinery.

As those engaged in architecture, we believe that imagination and reason are the highest of human faculties. This gift is what we constantly cultivate and rely on – in academia and in practice – when we question what exists, however natural, fixed and irreplaceable it may seem, and fearlessly posit alternatives. Indeed, there is little difference for us between possessing a moral imagination and being able to imagine such alternate worlds and other ways of being.

The inability therefore to envision life in another's shoes, to disagree and to counter ideas with more aesthetic or eloquent ones without resorting to character assassination, violence and charges of anti-nationalism, betray to us an alarming lack of imagination, and we strongly condemn this in all its forms.

We condemn this absence of imagination and the physical and epistemic violence it has unleashed on the university community especially teachers and students. We stand with you in support of the university as a marketplace of ideas where all ideas and opinions are passionately argued, ripped apart, defended and critically re-imagined in ever new ways, leading to a more enlightened citizenry. This must be allowed to happen without fear or favor, risk of persecution or charges of sedition. If nothing else, the imagination of our founding fathers demands it, and we are in solidarity with your right to exercise it.

Purdue University Stands in Solidarity with JNU

We, the undersigned faculty and students at Purdue University, strongly condemn the arrest of JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar. We oppose the systematic and deliberate attempts to humiliate, bully and terrorize the university's community of scholars and political activists. It is unethical for a government to spread canards about students with the hope of distracting attention away from its over-zealous, slapdash interventions in academic institutions. We demand that this scapegoating and hounding of Umar Khalid, and all other students, cease immediately.

We salute the courageous JNU community that stands proud and resolute in the face of physical violence, media trials, and sectarian, antediluvian discourses that confuse students for enemies, and dissent – the cornerstone of democracy – for sedition.

More generally, we detect a pattern in this government's deployment of the state machinery against young adults committed to addressing the inequities and discriminations so blatant in our country today. We insist, therefore, that the central government end its programmatic assault on public educational institutions and the spirit of free-thought. Institutions of higher education must be created and preserved as spaces where caste oppression, gender and minority-exclusion can be studied, and their resistance practiced. JNU exemplifies a dual commitment to combining academic rigor with a political-ethical conscience. We stand in solidarity with JNU's vision of a diverse campus, charged with a robust polity, where no monolithic, auto-corrected version of the nation or patriotism dominates. We believe that university campuses, like society at large, can thrive only when celebrations of the myriad manifestations of the nation are accompanied by an honest and fearless capacity to criticize its inadequacies. Read more…

Resolution in support of the student protests in India against the militant suppression of intellectual freedom and dissent by the BJP-government

This is a resolution passed by the Doctoral Students' Council, City University of New York (CUNY)

WHEREAS, on 12 February, the Delhi Police raided student hostels at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and arrested the JNU Students' Union President Kanhaiyya Kumar on the arbitrary and anti-democratic charge of sedition; and

WHEREAS, this application of a draconian, colonial law which criminalizes dissent stands in stark contradiction to the very democratic character of the nation that affirms an individual's right to free speech, however radical and unpopular the opinion; and

WHEREAS, this arrest of an elected student representative and the subsequent militarization of the campus with an overwhelming police presence is sanctioned and sponsored by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led ruling regime, in conjunction with its affiliate organizations RSS and ABVP, its student wing; and

WHEREAS, this coercive presence of the police on the university premises and elsewhere is compounded by their complicity in the physical assaults by lawyers of the Hindu Right on JNU teachers and students at the courthouse before Kanhaiyya's hearing; and


Letter of Solidarity from International Association of Women in Radio and Television (India Chapter) for JNU

February 21, 2016

tags: FTIIIAWRTJNURohith Vemulasedition

by Lawrence Liang

We the undersigned, from the India Chapter of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT), would like to place on record our solidarity with the students and teachers of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). We find the recent events that have taken place in JNU –  arrest of the JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar on charges of sedition, and a lookout by the police for several other students who allegedly raised anti-national slogans – extremely disturbing. We also feel that the use of the sedition law, which was enacted by British colonial government, draconian and has no place in India. A fundamental principle in a democracy is the right to free speech. Article 19 of the Indian Constitution grants it as a fundamental right, and the Indian courts have recognised this in the past, including in the case of Balwant Singh vs. State of Punjab. In this context, the framing of charges against the students of JNU is unacceptable, and should have no place in a democratic society.

The events in JNU are a continuation of the systematic attack on students in various campuses across the country by the ruling party and its student-wing, the ABVP. From the ban on the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle in IIT-Madras (the ban was eventually lifted), to appointing people not necessarily qualified in various administrative posts at the Film and Television Institute in India (FTII), to the attack and suspension of Dalit students in the Hyderabad Central University (HCU), which eventually led to the suicide of Rohith Vemula, there has been an increasing attempt at controlling students on campuses by the BJP and its affiliates, the ABVP and the RSS.


In many instances, the ruling government has used the State machinery, including that of the police, to carry out its agenda, either through intimidation or inaction – the attack by lawyers on Kanhaiya Kumar while he was produced in Patiala House in police presence, or the intimidation of lawyers Shalini Gera, Isha Khandelwal and journalist Malini Subramanian of in Chhattisgarh, who are being forced to leave Jagdalpur due to continual police threat and intimidation, are examples of this.


We fear that this environment that has been created by the State and some members of the media fraternity, where labels like "anti-national" and "traitor" are freely thrown around, is creating an atmosphere of fear and will suppress voices of dissent. Many media houses have been filing stories and conducting debates that do not adhere to basic principles of journalistic practices. The strength of a democratic nation is its ability to give space to its dissenters, as also to those who raise questions about the excesses of the State and about what the idea of a nation-state means. The fundamental right to free speech and dissent has been guaranteed to the citizens of India by the Constitution and cannot be violated for any political agenda if we are to remain a vibrant democracy.


We, the members of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT), India, demand:


1) JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar be immediately released

2) Stop the witch-hunt against Umar Khalid and other students of JNU

3) Segments of the media have been whipping up mass hysteria against students of JNU. They should be reined in by their own Press Councils and Broadcast Associations.

4) Repeal Section 124(A) of the Indian Penal Code

Aaradhna Kohli, Independent Filmmaker

Ananya Chakraborti, Filmmaker, Film Teacher, Activist

Anjali Monteiro, Academic and Filmmaker, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

Anupama Chandra, Film Editor and Director

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Archana Kapoor, Managing Trustee, IAWRT, Filmmaker and Radio Producer

Bina Paul

Geeta Sahai, Media Professional

Iffat Fatima, Independent Documentary Filmmaker

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Kavita Joshi, Filmmaker and Media Trainer

Mallika Sarabhai

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Reena Mohan, Filmmaker and Editor

Renuka Sharma

Samina Mishra, Independent Filmmaker and Writer

Sania Farooqui, Journalist

Shikha Jhingan

Smriti Nevatia, Film Festival curator, Researcher and Writer, Text Editor

Subasri Krishnan, Filmmaker

Teena Gill, Filmmaker and Development Consultant

Uma Chakravarti, Feminist Historian and Filmmaker

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Vani Subramanian, Filmmaker and Women's Rights Activist

Yashodara Udupa, Filmmaker

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