The message is loud and clear: those who don’t subscribe to the politics of the Left will face violence and harassment.
A student of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) who wanted to sit for semester-end exams approached the Delhi High Court last month as the students belonging to Leftist organisations had been on strike and were not allowing the exams to take place. He says he was branded as “the luminary of the RSS” by a Leftist professor.
This student, Suraj Kumar, was allegedly beaten up in the violence that ensued on 5 January in the campus.
Such harassment and targeting of those who don’t subscribe to the politics of the Left is not uncommon in JNU. After the 5 January incident, things seem to be going from bad to worse.
Posters have been plastered all over the campus identifying non-Left professors and students as “traitors of JNU”. Even a paan wala, whose shop is not even on the campus is being harassed for being a “Sanghi” and “a hardcore ABVP supporter”. This targeted harassment is being done allegedly by Leftist elements as the ones being on target are all non-Left folks.
In one of the posters, Professor Prakasha Chandra Sahoo, assistant professor at the Centre for the Study of Social Systems (CSSS), has been identified as someone who “beat up protesting students” and “allowed masked goons to enter hostel”.
Professor Sahoo refers to these allegations as ridiculous. “I myself ran for my life as the masked mob attacked the hostel. To now hear the allegation that I was the one who helped them enter hostel and even indulge in beating the residents myself is shocking and hilarious at the same time,” he tells Swarajya.
“If they can provide even one proof that I was involved in any way, I will resign immediately. Delhi Police and Crime Branch are right here. If they have any proof, why don’t they go and file an FIR against me instead of indulging in these smear campaigns,” he adds.
Sahoo says that he has been on the target of the Leftists from the day he came to JNU and the latest allegations are purely ideological in nature and have nothing to do with reality.
“When I joined as a faculty member here, my office was vandalised. There was no enquiry done as to why and who did it. Maybe they didn’t like me because I come from a backward community but got selected in an open-category post,” he guesses.
Another reason could be that he is one of the wardens of Sabarmati Hostel, which was attacked twice on 5 January, first, allegedly by the Leftist mob and later in retaliation by those from the Right.
“I was at the library canteen with one other warden when we received the news of attack on our hostel. We called the PCR but they said they are also stuck and are unable to come to the rescue,” he says.
“We rushed towards the hostel and reached there by 4:15 pm. The masked goons had left by then. Students told us how the mob was searching for specific targets and had a list of people to beat up. We called an urgent meeting of all the three wardens, prepared a report of all that happened and sent it to chief security officer asking for more security. At around 6:45, we closed the office and left for tea. By then, peace march had started. At around 7, the second attack took place. We rushed towards Narmada Hostel to save ourselves. We called for help repeatedly but none came,” Prof Sahoo describes how the events unfolded that day.
Professor Amit Mishra, a faculty with the School of Environmental Sciences, was also threatened recently by a group of protesting Left-wing students as he was coming out of a meeting on 9 January.
“The dean had invited us for a meeting at the school building. When we, eight faculty members, came out, some students gheraoed us and started shouting slogans and abusing, calling us dalle (brokers) and what not,” he says.
The dean asked Prof Mishra to record the ruckus by students on the phone. This is where things turned ugly. “When I started recording, a student told to me “aapka intezaam karna padega”.
This same student has earlier also threatened us saying “JNU ke baahar bhi duniya hai" and "saari zindagi courts ke chakkar lagane padenge".
In a veiled threat, he told us ‘SLS mein dekhe the kya hua tha’. He was referring to sexcual harassment charges filed against some professors by the students. Prof Mishra has narrated the whole incident in an official mail to his dean and other colleagues for the record.
Abhinav Prakash Singh, a faculty of economics at the prestigious Shri Ram College of Commerce, was shocked when he saw his photo on one of the posters in JNU, branding him the university’s traitor. Singh is an alumnus of JNU but hasn’t visited the campus for a long time.
“I was shocked to see posters accusing me as an ‘architect of violence’. I have no idea as to why I was targeted. I have no connection with what’s happening inside JNU for over five years and haven’t even visited the campus for more than a month. I suspect I am targeted because I am a vocal critic of the Left politics. Even in JNU, I was an open critic of the Left. Perhaps this is how they are trying to intimidate me into silence,” Singh says.
He has been relentless in bringing the other side of the violence on social media — the one perpetrated by the Leftists. His tweets explaining the chronology of the violence — first by the Leftists to which the Right retaliated — and videos shared by him of the Leftists indulging in violence have gone viral.
But such harassment is nothing new in an institution like JNU. Singh did his masters from the university and is well aware of the way those who don’t conform to Leftist politics in the campus are treated.
“Personal targeting, fake cases and slandering have been the standard Left-wing tactics against activists of opposing party. But this is perhaps for the first time an unrelated person has been targeted. I feel police must investigate and arrest all those involved. Because it’s not just me but they are running a similar campaign against a poor paan wala located outside the campus. It’s a law and order issue,” Singh says.
The paan wala he refers to is Sanjay Chaurasia, who runs a small shop outside the main JNU gate, across the road. Some Left students have been circulating messages on WhatsApp to boycott him economically.
“Sanjay Chaurasia helped to identify jnu students to the mob, provoking Sanghi goons standing near north gate to attack students (sic),” reads a WhatsApp forward. Prima facie, this allegation appears to be bizarre as the violence took place inside the hostels was far away from his shop, which is not even in the campus.
Chaurasia is scared of the way he is being hounded.
“All these are lies. I had shut shop and left for home before 8 pm as the villagers from nearby villages had gathered here and ordered me to down the shutter. My whole business runs due to JNU students. I have no reason to do any such things,” he says.
Just talked to this poor shopkeeper Sanjay who sells pan, cigarettes and cold drinks outside JNU.— Arihant (@haryannvi) January 10, 2020
He is being hounded by some left students with false allegations.
He believes it could be because many students have pending bills of as high as Rs 5,000 (khaata chal raha hai). pic.twitter.com/dykRSSufs3
Chaurasia believes that the smear campaign against him was done by some students who have dues pending with him and don’t want to pay.
“It could be because some students have debts running as high as Rs 4,000-5,000. Yahan khaata chalta hai. Maybe they don’t want to pay now. I complained to their seniors about this. It is possible I am being targeted because of this,” he says.
At the Centre for Historical Studies, some posters declare professors Umesh Kadam, Heeraman Tiwari and Birender Prasad “out of bounds”. Such chutzpah can only be witnessed in a Leftist bastion like JNU, where students declare their own teachers out of bounds from the school building.
One needs to remind the readers here that Professor Kadam is the same faculty who was gheraoed on 28 October at the convention centre by the Leftist students. When his health condition worsened and his blood pressure shot up in the ensuing ruckus and heckling, he was not allowed access to an ambulance by the protesting students.
Finally, when the administration managed to get him into an ambulance, the vehicle was blocked. Professor Kadam’s wife and children kept pleading with these students but to no avail.
The doctors wanted him to shift to a speciality hospital outside of the campus but he wasn’t allowed and the students forced him to go to JNU health centre. For more than seven hours, Prof Kadam wasn’t allowed access to critical medical care that he needed.
Apart from putting up posters in the campus, some faculty members are being named and shamed via WhatsApp messages on the department groups.
“The JNU administration needs to launch an inquiry on these elements and motivations behind this witch-hunt. It will most likely reveal that some Left faculty members of JNU Teachers Association are instigating the students and firing from their shoulders,” says one of the faculty members, who is being hounded, on condition of anonymity.
Posters of students affiliated with Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad or ABVP are also being put up in order to shame them.
Ironically, one of the posters has a photo of Manish Jangid, who is an ABVP member and was beaten up badly on 5 January, allegedly by Leftist mob. He has a broken arm and many bruises all over his body.