A Sunil Bisoyi Blog

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March 2016

De-legitimisation of Student protests in India

Since the starting of the protests in case of Rohit’s death till now, there is a uncomfortable feeling overwhelming me that the government is trying not to solve the issues by addressing them but suppressing them. The injustice with Rohit sparked and escalated a movement against the millenniums old culture of Casteism. To which the government responded with silence and more silence.

Then came the issue at JNU where the protest was against the capital punishment of criminals and terrorists. Where suddenly the right wing media picked it up as it was against the judicial killing of Afzal Guru. The media attempted to smear the whole JNU campus as anti-national. Because of this outrage created by the media against the JNU students the police in favour of the majority of the people. The main focus was the anti-national slogans. Which was indeed raised by many (whether outsiders or the students). The number of people raising these slogans were a few maybe a hundred or so. The JNU strength in total is above 3000. The students protesting was even in thousands. So for this minuscule number of people the media considered the whole JNU student body as anti-national. I agree that the slogans could ignite violence and the slogans were seditious. But, the person got arrested for it was the student president. Which sparked outrage among the students again. Because there was no evidence to suggest that he was involved in those slogans.
Well the point it seems like the government keeps trying to bury these debates and it keeps backfiring. Whether the case of Rohit or the case of Kanhaya. It has become a crime to raise your voice against the capital punishment it seems. Even I was called an anti-national by one of my closest friends because I said Afzal’s hanging was unjustified. Most of the people are not able to comprehend the fact there could be people who could have a different opinion that is different from theirs.
This became an opportunity for the government again to de-legitimize the student protests again. There was this failed attempt by Smriti Irani where she tried to smear the students of Hyderabad University as politicians and that they used Vemula’s death as a political tool. No one cared about it when those statements were debunked but when she spoke those words everyone was saying ‘bravo’. When verified with genuine investigation we can see how the government is trying to bury these events as student nuisance. She even tried to de-legitimize the JNU students by saying they are celebrating the wrong kind of ‘Durga puja’ ignoring the possibility that there could be various cultures celebrating various religious festivals which might differ with typical Hindu festives. This kind of de-legitimisation of the student voices has repeated itself in various universities. I feel like it is an attempt by govt. to shut the students up. I am scared that in future the BJP will keep showing this incident as an example to say ‘see this is the youth of India and you want to support them?’ They will suppress the students all around India using this issue with JNU. They will try to enforce harsher disciplinary actions against students to demoralise them from protesting. Whether in case of casteism or whether for anything else. They are going to use this as a tool to enforce a stricter university regulation.
And that scares me. If there is no freedom of exchanging ideas and morals, then what are the universities for. Are we not adults and do we not live in this society. So what if we raised our voices for the country we want to live in. We want freedom not for raising violent slogans but for a better future and a better country we believe in.

Why JNU thinks the death penalty for Afzal Guru was unjust

Let me tell you first it is not just the JNU students who feel the death penalty against Afzal was not justified but many others including many civil rights activists and lawyers. The people of India were shown only one side of the coin and I am sorry to say that people are not keen on finding out what really is happening. You can see that in case of JNU. You see people complaining against the JNU student that they are studying from the tax payers’ money, but they don’t want to see behind the curtains or even if they see the truth they still have some vested interest not to disclose the truth.

Starting with Afzal Guru, he was an Indian citizen who grew up in Kashmir during all the atrocities and conflict there. The army from both side (India and Pakistan) were accused of harassment, violence and even rape. The youth including Afzal grew up with seeing this and much more. According to him he wanted to become a doctor and he had taken admission too in MBBS. During which the movement escalated for freedom of Kashmir. Which led him to Pakistan where he saw the same that he saw in India. Pakistan had it’s own interest in taking up the land of Kashmir but wasn’t interested in freeing it. So because of this conflict in his mind, he surrendered to the Indian army. He surrendered because of his ideologies. He wanted freedom for his people not violence.

Then he says Indian army wanted him to become informer for the Indian army. Which he didn’t agree with. Maybe because it was against his principles to betray his peers. Because of which the Indian army beat him and tortured him including electrocuting his genitals. His wife and son had to endure this pain that he was suffering. He was in hospital for recovery for over a month. He later agreed to work with the Special Task Force (STF) of Kashmir, whether due to pressure or threat only he knows. It is said he was given instructions to accompany and help some people in order to get intel from them. Therefore he accompanied them and helped them to get to Delhi. The irony here is neither the police knew or STF knew the motive of those people nor did Afzal (according to his statement). So indirectly the police made the job of these militants easier via Afzal. But there is no police record of this. Whether there was no such incident or whether this was the truth and the records were deliberately erased, only the people involved know and it might never get disclosed. When the group arrived at Delhi those five attacked the parliament and died.

So among all these activities according to Afzal he was just playing his part, though it is not clear for whom. People might be saying now that he confessed in public in front of the national television. But, this evidence was not admissible in SC. This was however the evidence based on which the HC decided its verdict. But, the SC had to denounce this evidence as it was found that he confessed due to the police pressure (that could involve torture and various threat). So apparently there was no solid evidence which could convince his guilt and motive. The verdict of the SC clearly states that the judgement was given according to the circumstantial evidence.
Which concludes that he was hanged because of just circumstantial evidences. He didn’t have a proper defence because every week his lawyers would change. He was an Indian after all why couldn’t he be given a fair defence. The lawyers who were taking his cases were threatened and most didn’t want to take his case. The evidence based on which he was tried previously was not admissible in the SC. So, basically SC gave the death penalty to someone against whom they didn’t have enough evidence, who cooperated fully with the police and justice system & who didn’t have a proper defence prepared just because they felt that it would not be objectionable and would be accepted by most. So judgement was done against him for convenience for the Indian public. Whether it was justified or not who cares. People don’t want to see the truth, they just want to feel relevant and patriotic.
After all this if you think there could be no other side to the story of Afzal and JNU then I don’t know what will convince you.

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