JNU row: Teachers ask Modi government to stay away from campuses

Written by: Maitreyee Boruah

Bengaluru, Mar 3: On Wednesday (March 2), the JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar, arrested on sedition charges, was granted interim bail for six months by the Delhi High Court

Moreover, forensic reports released by Truth Lab in Hyderabad reveal that at least two out of the seven video clips of the alleged 'anti-national' sloganeering in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on February 9 and 11 have been 'doctored'.

JNU row: Teachers ask govt to stay away

These two latest developments have been welcomed by the teachers, academicians, students and activists, who have been vouching for Kanhaiya's innocence, since the controversy erupted.

In the wake of the JNU row, student and teacher communities from across the country have been strongly speaking against any government intervention in matters related to higher educational institutions.

In fact, as a part of their campaign, Save Academic Freedom and Preserve University Autonomy, university teachers' community has organized a press conference in Delhi on Thursday (March 3) evening.

JNU row: Teachers ask govt to stay away

The two main demands to be raised by the teaching community on Thursday are--the government should respect the autonomy of the universities and stop interfering in matters internal to the universities and charges of sedition should be dropped against all students.

Some of the prominent scholars and academicians to address the meeting are Prof. Satish Deshapande (Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University), Prof. Rukmini Bhaya Nair, (IIT Delhi) and Mukul Kesavan, (Department of History, Jamia Millia Islamia), to name a few.

"An atmosphere of intimidation, repression and unrest has been unleashed by the government after the arrest of the JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar and two other students, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya.

The autonomy of a university stands violated when the police raid hostels and detain students on the basis of the thinnest of evidence," says a statement by the teaching community.

The teachers have urged the government not to destroy higher education and academic freedom through intimidation.
"Universities must be nurtured as spaces for intellectual experimentation and courageous thinking.

Read More: JNU row: AAP criticises TV channels for showing alleged doctored videos

They harbor the highest values that humanity aspires towards and in them there can be no place for fear of retribution. What concerns us most is that the incidents relating to the JNU are not isolated ones, but appear to be part of a concerted policy towards devaluing and thereby destroying higher education and academic freedom through intimidation.

No more brutal example is needed than the criminalization of dissent, of speech, of argument; the very values and skills patiently sought to be inculcated in our schools and universities. Rohit Vemula's life was tragically cut short by unwarranted interference of precisely such a sort," it adds.

"We condemn such attempts in unequivocal terms and assert that the citizens of India must be allowed their fundamental right to voice their dissent. There is no surer touchstone for measuring either the pulse of a democracy or the heartbeat of a university," the statement ends.

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