"Be careful. Violence is in the air. If you're catching the auto then don't mention JNU at the bus stop or something, say it once the auto is moving."
Instructions like these have been given to the students at JNU. I have lived in Delhi for more than a decade now and while unfortunately I cannot vouch for it being the safest city, I have never come across such fear in college students.
Inside the campus, I overheard a student requesting a young teacher to not flash his Identity card outside the campus. And these seemed to be the people least interested in politics. The student Pankaj Chaudhary who I had a long chat with is doing PHD in Law and Governance.
He was more worried about his thesis submission than the ideological war that's being fought inside and at the gate of the campus which has been barricaded and is being watched over 24 * 7 by around 50 police personnel.
"It's not like I don't understand politics. I was involved too in my initial years at JNU but what will I show to those who come for recruitments. It's not as if my degree will be painted in red. Sab apni roti sek rahe hain. The students should not have taken the matter outside the campus."
Masoom Raza, who is pursuing M Phil in Arabic, has been active in politics but strongly disapproves of the anti-India slogans raised in the campus.
"Who ever has done wrong must be caught and punished. But for the wrongs committed by few, the entire university shouldn't be tainted and all students shouldn't be harassed."
Inside the campus, irrespective of the fear life is usual for all. But right at the gate of the campus, it seems like if JNU is not shut down soon, India will collapse.
JNU ko saaf karo saaf karo
Jo Afzal ki chal chalega wo Afzal ki maut marega
Sikhsha Kendro ko jehadiyo ka adda na banne de
Desh ke gaddaro ko goli maro saalo ko
Kashmir se Guwahati apni desh apni maati
JNU ke Jaichando ko giraftar karo
These slogans filled the air. The protestors tried to break through the barricades. The effigies were burnt.
One of the protesters Suresh Kumar Rana claimed to be a private citizen who runs a pharmaceutical business. He was not happy with my question about how reasonable was their demand to shut down the university.
"It's not ok to shut down the University but if there are 20 anti-nationals then what were the other students doing. Why are students and faculty protecting them.Why are certain political parties saying these are my men. Political parties must go away. Let law take its own course why parties are protecting these men. Anti-nationals are anti-nationals."