Ripple effect: JNU crackdown and voices of ‘dissent’ from northeast India

By: Maitreyee Boruah
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The ongoing row at the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi has left an indelible mark on the collective psyche of the people of northeast India.

The northeast region is geographically far away from the mainland India with very little connectivity. However, the voices of dissent emanating from JNU and University of Hyderabad (UoH), Hyderabad, strike a chord with the people of the region.


The region has long witnessed a battle between the state forces (especially army) and its indigenous people. It has been ages since northeast region is demanding the withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from its soil.

Several activists, intellectuals and academicians from the region have expressed their solidarity with the students of JNU and UoH.

Jyotirmoy Talukdar, a poet and a freelance journalist from Assam in an open letter addressed to the JNU, writes, "This, then, does bring me to the small thing I want to go into here. As someone writing to you from a perennially circumferential, marginalized, contentious state and indeed, region, I must, on this concerned, distressed and disquieted night, write to you of concord, concurrence and camaraderie because we understand what you mean. Because we have suffered. Because Indian Army for us crores of people in the North Eastern Region is not what it is to Arnab Goswami and Sudhir Chaudhary. If we remember soldiers braving snow, we also remember them in not so brave acts in my state and my region for decades, as we do in Kunan Poshpora, as we do in the eyes of our mothers and sisters who cross the river to safety in other villages if they hear of these law-keepers visiting their own any hungry night."

"If protests done by you against the UGC discontinuing fellowships - which are anyway peanuts - braving the cold month after month in front of the Commission, if protests by all of you in front of Assam Bhawan against the rape of Karbi women by jawans or the dissatisfaction by you against the widely-discussed and debated trials of Yakub Memon or Afzal Guru or GN Saibaba amount to such reactions from the state, either the state is fascist or it is damn scared. But wait, they are the same thing, aren't they?" adds Talukdar in his letter titled, From Kashmir to North-East, speaking truth is sedition: a letter to JNU from Assam, published in is a free and open online platform for updates and perspectives on people's struggles and democratic movements in India. It's run by a group of independent researchers and activists. [Read the full letter here]

In another article, JNU Crackdown: India's northeast boils over it, published in, says, "The entire colossus of left and democratic forces in the Northeast are standing in solidarity with the students of JNU, who have been subjected to state sponsored violence by the RSS and its political wing ,BJP."

"Student activists from the Students' Federation of India, Jorhat, brought out a protest rally in solidarity with the students of JNU. The rally saw a huge upsurge of students who sang the songs of freedom and rallied against the killing of Rohith Vemula and the arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar, slogans like "Kitne Rohith Maroge, Ghar Ghar se Rohith Niklenge" and

"Go back Communal ABVP", rocked the streets of the heart of upper Assam that day," it adds.

The article written by Suddhabrata Deb Roy, a student activist and a writer, alleged that students of Assam University, Silchar, were attacked by ABVP members during a protest rally.

"When the SFI, yesterday, brought out a protest rally inside the campus standing in solidarity with JNU and against the curtailment of democratic rights inside the campus, the goons from ABVP, named in the FIR lodged by them as Manoj Das, attacked the rallying students, and tried to inflict serious injury to the activists. One activist was hit on the stomach while two more were seriously injured by the goons. Following the attack on the SFI, some activists from the AISA, immediately arrived on the scene and extended their support to the SFI activists against the ABVP goons," writes Roy.

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