Government Needs To Be Supported On JNU

Government Needs To Be Supported On JNU

by Praful Shankar - Feb 18, 2016 09:18 PM +05:30 IST
Government Needs To Be Supported On JNU

The Indian government should protect its law abiding, peace loving common citizens rather than pampered, pseudo-revolutionaries who abuse the very freedoms they claim to be fighting for.

With the stand-off at JNU showing little signs of abating anytime soon, the NDA government finds itself in a situation that is all too familiar now. The Indian left-liberal alliance consisting of the academic intelligentsia, social commentators, media-persons and anti-NDA political parties have, once again, declared open war. The vast majority of media commentary has revolved around the usual round of ludicrously exaggerated accusations, of the BJP and the RSS imposing their own version of the Emergency and how India is becoming a Hindu Pakistan.

Even some commentators with an inclination towards the BJP have suggested that since the matter involves students and their activities within a university campus, the Government ought to have taken a more lenient stand.

While the above argument may have its merits in other contexts, it is less relevant in this particular case of JNU – primarily because of two reasons.

First, is the matter of principle.

India is one of the world’s largest liberal democracies. Despite the contrived and false ‘intolerance’ bogeys which have been raised by motivated parties, Indian society is overwhelmingly open, law-abiding and peace-loving. As a territorial power, the nation has never ventured into the realms of irresponsibile war mongering. Neither has it used ‘non-state’ actors to harass innocent citizens of any other nation nor has it occupied any piece of land illegally.

The portrayal of India as an ‘occupying’ force in the Valley is both false and preposterous. Thousands of brave Indian soldiers have laid down their lives to defend the territorial integrity and ideals of the nation. These martyrs include the ones who lost their lives while defending the Indian Parliament from the attacks masterminded by Afzal Guru.

Even as the group of pampered and manufactured ‘rebels’ gathered to vent their outrage in the JNU campus, searches were on for the soldiers who lost their lives while on duty in Siachen, and then the entire nation was praying for the life of the one soldier who was brought out breathing.

With their pro-Afzal chants, the great exponents of free speech at JNU were mocking, the bravery and self-sacrifice of the Indian forces.

Political opponents of the Government cannot get away with a sleight of hand by terming the student’s slogans as anti-government and not anti-national. ‘Bharat ki barbadi tak’, ‘Afzal tere kaatil’ and ‘India ke tukde’ are clearly not anti-Modi or anti-BJP. They are anti-India.

More importantly, the sloganeering that accompanied the various events marking Afzal Guru’s death anniversary, while certainly anti-national and probably seditious in itself, is most likely to be only the tip of the iceberg.

It cannot be that a group of well-meaning and patriotic left-leaning students gathered at an agreed spot for a protest and spontaneously came up with pro-separatist and pro-Pakistan slogans, which they then magically began to chant in unison. It is more likely that the slogans are the symptom and not the disease.

The disease, in this case, seems to the growing influence of anti-national ideologies in a large number of college campuses across the country – with JNU being the most prominent example. For the moment, this ideological advance appears to be more pronounced in colleges with a leftist predisposition. Earlier, one would observe the more extremist elements of leftist student politics veering off towards Naxalism and Maoism. Now, with the support base for such leftist legacy ideas thinning, the comrades seem to have injected a rather large dose of separatism into their induction manuals.

This expansion of ideological base could not have occurred as a natural process and is more likely to have been an ‘arranged marriage’ of convenience. For separatist elements, it a move towards mainstream political influence and for the political players, it is both an expansion of their vote base along with an investment for the future.

The arrest of SAR Geelani (an accused in the 2001 Parliament attack), the alleged entry of external Kashmiris with pro-separatist leanings into the JNU campus and the questionable activities of Umar Khalid indicate that there were more sinister activities at hand within the JNU campus. The level of crowd mobilization coupled with the organized nature of the protests indicates that far from being an amateur student demonstration, what happened at JNU was the unwitting exhibition of an ‘under the covers’ political mobilization with disturbing motivations.

We are hardly half a decade away from Dr Manmohan Singh’s declaration that Naxalism is the greatest threat to India’s internal security. Even today, such extremist left groups cause enormous casualties to Indian security forces in the tribal belts of central and south-central India. The death toll of security personnel killed in these areas between 2011 and 2013 was 371. The number of violent incidents in the ‘Red zone’ during the same period was 4,311.

Whether the Naxals have the official sanction of the left leadership or not, it cannot be denied that they have emerged from the larger leftist ecosystem of which JNU is a critical component. An impending alliance of extremist left groups with Kashmiri separatists is a grave internal security problem to which the Indian state cannot turn a blind eye.

Governments of mature democracies like India have a responsibility to stand up for its common, law abiding citizens – who end up suffering the most in the hands of violent extremists, – rather than pampered, pseudo-revolutionaries who abuse the very freedoms they claim to be fighting for.

If the Indian state has received credible intelligence inputs of disturbing machinations brewing at JNU and other campuses around the country and has decided to nip these in the bud, then it deserves the nation’s whole hearted support.

Political games and the media war on Narendra Modi can wait for another day.

Praful Shankar is a political enthusiast and tweets at @shankarpraful.

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