May 28 2011
by JNU Forum against War on People
The Indian state’s war against the people in the form of Operation Green Hunt launched almost two years back is aimed at facilitating the corporate plunder of peoples’ land, forests, and resources. In the process the state has unleashed a spate of violent repression of the people fighting against this corporate loot. Braving extreme forms of state repression, Green Hunt has been resisted and fought back by vast sections of the people across the country, including peasants, workers, adivasis, dalits, students, intellectuals, peoples’ movements and democratic organisations. Outside the country too, the Indian state’s war campaign in central and eastern India has been opposed by the pro-people organisations and individuals. They have all vocally protested the crimes committed by the Indian state and its armed forces in these regions on a daily basis – be it the murder of adivasi villagers and political activists in their hundreds, use of brutal torture, burning and loot of hundreds of villages, thousands of arrests and forced displacements in still larger numbers.
The JNU Forum against War on People, formed by the students of the campus two years back to oppose the onslaught of Operation Green Hunt on the people of this country, has consistently worked towards bringing out the ground realities of state terror and repression in these regions. Against the state’s and the corporate media’s attempts to hide this reality, the Forum has continued to acquaint the campus community of the ongoing war in India’s heartland, and the students and teachers responded positively by participating in each of its programmes in their hundreds. The huge mobilisation of the students of JNU at the call of the Forum, whether it is to protest the JNU visit of P. Chidambaram –the main architect of Green Hunt– on 6 May 2010, the public meeting addressed by Arundhati Roy and Prof. Amit Bhaduri on 5 March 2011, or various protest actions at the initiative of the Forum in the last two years seem to have become a cause of worry for the Indian state and its local representative – the JNU administration.
Seen in this context, the ongoing Proctorial Enquiry conducted against the Forum allegedly for violating the Official Emblem Act, appears to be nothing but an urban extension of Operation Green Hunt. This enquiry is apparently carried out by the JNU administration to probe whether an image used in one of the campaign material for the public meeting organised by the Forum on 5 March misused the official symbol of the Indian state. The image portrays the jackboot of the Indian state coming down to stamp out and crush the people protesting against its repressive policies. The administration claims that the artwork on the boot amounts to the misuse of the symbol as per the Official Emblem Act. Hence it has initiated this Proctorial enquiry against the Forum so that its members can be punished for this ‘crime’! In their eagerness to take punitive action against the students, the officials in the administration have forgotten that this image is readily available in the internet and other public domains. It has been widely used all over the country to depict the use of brutal force by the armed forces of Indian state against the people resisting Operation Green Hunt. This is an artist’s impression which exposes the reality of Indian state’s war on people today, and was used by the Forum keeping in mind the context of a public meeting which was to discuss ‘Operation Green Hunt: Unmasking the Reality of Democracy and Development.’ This image along with the public meeting – which was addressed by Arundhati Roy and Prof. Amit Bhaduri with more than 600 students in attendance in Koyna mess – indeed unmasked the fact that there is no democracy and freedom of expression or political dissent for those who oppose the repressive polices of the Indian state such as the Green Hunt.
The right-wing ABVP has been indulging in malicious propaganda against the Forum from the very beginning, and has tried many times to stop or disturb its activities. Following the tactics of their leaders Narendra Modi and Raman Singh, and implementing the agenda of the state in a manner similar to the Salwa Judum of Chhattisgarh, the Sanghi brigade of JNU has repeatedly tried to brand the Forum as a ‘pro-Maoist’ and ‘anti-national’ platform. Many times in the past two years, the ABVP has demanded administrative action ‘banning’ the Forum or restricting its functioning. They had even tried to assault, vandalise and disrupt a programme of Cultural Protest organised by the Forum on 9 April 2010. During the public meeting of 5 March 2011 too, the ABVP desperately tried to disrupt it, but due to the resistance put up by the hundreds of students present there, its attempts did not materialise and the meeting was successfully concluded. Having no option or excuse to prevent the successful programmes of the Forum which has evoked such an enthusiastic response from the JNU student community, ABVP has complained to the administration about this so-called violation of the official emblem. The administration, which has shown no eagerness to punish the Sanghi goons responsible for the 9 April assault on the Forum programme, has now found a much-awaited excuse to persecute the Forum. Therefore, acting on the complaints of ABVP (as claimed in the ABVP pamphlet of 26.5.2011), the administration has now come up with this farcical enquiry almost three months after the meeting. The close collaboration of the Proctor’s office and the right-wing ABVP leaves no one in doubt that the punitive action against the Forum is politically motivated. The JNU administration has chosen the vacations for this premeditated witch-hunt with the hope that there will be not enough students to resist this authoritarian action. But as the history of JNU’s student movement proves, the students have collectively fought each of such assaults by the administration, and each time defeated its nefarious anti-student designs.
Going a step further and using this farcical enquiry as an excuse, the administration has issued a series of draconian Circulars ordering a stay on the functioning of the Forum, including the further conducting of public meetings. The Circular from the Chief Proctor dated 19 May 2011 asks the Forum to ‘restrain’ from all its activities till the ongoing farcical Proctorial enquiry is over. This is nothing but an indirect attempt by the administration to effectively ban the Forum or to destroy it, and such action has no place in the long-cherished democratic traditions of this campus. This draconian measure is in direct contravention of the progressive values and ethos of JNU. It is a reprehensible attempt by the administration to criminalise political dissent. And as if the enquiry and the ‘restraint’ Circular were not enough, the administration has even gone ahead issuing another Circular to all the photocopy shops in JNU, which ordered the shop-owners not to print any unsigned pamphlets/posters! Never in the history of JNU has there been a stipulation to sign every printed material. Posters by various organisations in the campus calling for programmes are never signed, nor has this become an issue of objection for the students and teachers of this campus. Now according to the administration, such posters and pamphlets will not be allowed to be photocopied in campus shops. This amounts to an unprecedented assault on the democratic rights of the students launched by the administration under the new VC. It is not just an attack on one particular organisation. It is a threat to all the progressive organisations and the liberal democratic values that JNU stands for. A university which does not allow dissent becomes a prison. The administration will not be allowed to turn JNU into a prison where no dissent is tolerated.
JNU Forum against War on People strongly condemns all these authoritarian acts by the administration aimed at curb
ing the democratic rights of the student community and to silence the voices of dissent. And JNU Forum is not alone in their condemnation and opposition to the attempt by the administration to impose an undeclared Emergency in JNU. An all-organisation meeting on 24 May condemned and opposed the Circular ‘restraining’ the Forum from all activities. An all-organisation delegation comprising of AISA, AIBSF, DSU, JNU Forum against War on People, SFI and SFR and UDSF met the Chief Proctor Dr. Bohidar on 25 May, and demanded that these circulars be withdrawn with immediate effect. A Joint Statement signed by most of these organizations along with CFI and PSU has also condemned the administration’s repressive acts. These authoritarian measures need to be fought collectively by the campus community. If the Proctor’s office is allowed to get away with such assaults on our rights and freedom of expression, it will be emboldened to tighten the noose on the students in the coming days.
At a time when the Operation Green Hunt is being intensified by breaking all laws of the land and by bringing in the army to Bastar and Odisha, the Indian state has also waged a war against even those who are voicing their opposition to it. This is being done not only in the rural areas of central and eastern India where the assault of Green Hunt is the most intense, but also in urban areas like Delhi. The unjust persecution of Dr. Binayak Sen and hundreds of democratic rights activists working in urban areas, or the recent branding of various civil rights organisations like PUDR, PUCL and CRPP as Maoist frontal organisations, is a clear indication of this. This is the urban manifestation of Operation Green Hunt. If Delhi has already come under the ambit of the war on people, can JNU be far away? JNU administration’s enquiry and repressive actions against the Forum is also a part of the Green Hunt, and therefore must be resisted and defeated. This resistance by the JNU community will be the most befitting expression of solidarity to the people who are facing the brunt of Operation Green Hunt and are resisting it with all their might. JNU Forum against War on People calls upon the students and teachers of JNU, and democratic individuals and organisations outside to come out to protest against the administration’s undemocratic, authoritarian and repressive attempts to silence the voice of the students of this campus.