The Delhi State Committee of SFI has issued the following statement on the incidents in JNU on 9 February 2016.
There has been a well-planned effort by the RSS-BJP and by a section of the media to use the events of 9 February 2016 at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, to paint all the left-led students’ organizations including SFI with the same brush as anti-national. It becomes important hence to take one-by-one, all the gibberish that is being spread.
SFI strongly condemns both the sides – on the one hand, the irresponsible slogans by a section and on the other hand the RSS-ABVP’s assault on the freedom of expression. In fact, both such forces are emboldening each other. As far as the question of capital punishment is concerned, we believe that it can’t be a form of punishment in any civilized society.
What was the programme about?
A few individual students of JNU had organized a cultural evening with the title ‘A country without a post office’. It should be clear to all that SFI was not an organizer of the programme. The cultural evening portrayed the Kashmir Question in a framework that is not shared by SFI.
Why did SFI come in support of the organisers?
The permission for the cultural evening was withdrawn by the university administration just 15 minutes before the programme was scheduled to happen, the reason being that the ABVP wrote a complaint to the VC claiming that “peace in the campus will be disrupted if this programme is allowed to happen”. The VC obliged the ABVP and not only withdrew the permission, but also denied electricity connection for the sound system. We see this as a clear assault on the freedom of expression. The same pattern was witnessed in the events in the Hyderabad Central University, which finally led to the unjust punishment to five Dalit students and the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula. Universities and institutes of higher learning are places of debate and critical thinking. No one can be allowed to curtail this democratic right. SFI came in support of the organizers, in defence of their freedom of expression and their right to dissent.
What was the role of the RSS-ABVP?
Hundreds of students gathered defying the Sangh-administration diktats. RSS-ABVP machinery was so frustrated seeing this that they started heckling, manhandling and abusing the students. The ABVP later filed bogus police complaints against some of the leading student activists in the campus, including SFI’s unit secretary.
SFI came in support of the organizers; does it mean that it also accepts the slogans that were raised by them?
The programme saw some of the people raising slogans supporting the secession of Kashmir. This by no means should mean that students and organizations who had gathered in support of the freedom of expression should also hold to the same view. We would like to go a step further and say that such adventurism and childishness has helped RSS’ cause at such a crucial juncture. SFI fully distances itself from such slogans and condemn such irresponsible slogans which do grave disservice to the crucial question of Kashmir as well.
The RSS-ABVP has been pushed to the wall by the movement following the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula and earlier the Occupy UGC movement. Now they want to save their skin by branding all the forces which are playing leading role in these movements as anti-national. The fact remains no political force has the license to distribute certificates on nationalism. Nation and nationalism in final analysis is not about the rivers, the mountains and the geography; it is about the people and the greatest nationalism lies in taking forward the cause of the people. Today we are at a juncture when fighting against RSS-ABVP has become the prime duty of everyone who wants to be called a nationalist.
Prashant Mukherjee (President)