The JNUTA takes note of the extraordinary cancellation by the University’s Competent Authhority of talks to be organised on the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the Ramjanam Bhoomi issue.
The JNUTA notes that this order comes in the wake of a notice that initially suggested that only one talk to be given by Dr. Subramaniam Swamy had been cancelled, and a media circus was allowed to play out in which the JNU community was blamed for censoring opposing views. The JNU community has had nothing to do with this act of blatant censorship, dressed up as concern for amity, and sharply condemns the cancellation and the vilification of the JNU community that has accompanied it.
JNU has always seen events around 6 December 1992 for the last twenty-five years, and communal peace and harmony have never been adversely affected, because in the main, it is the message of tolerance and secularism that has won the day. The JNU administration should reflect on this fact, as well as its own efforts towards communal amity in the events leading up to and in the aftermath of the tragic disappearance of Najeeb Ahmad.
A university is a space for the democratic discussion of the most undemocratic of acts, in which even events and ideas that a majority does not approve of can be be presented and contested democratically. It is also not in the Dean of Students’ or even the Vice-Chancellor’s job description to determine what can or cannot be discussed — in class, in seminars and conferences, and in public places. The JNUTA is angered by the invocation of an ‘academic-then-yes’ yardstick as a means to further impose censorship in the university, as it is one that is tailored to only selective application — otherwise how could JNU administration-organised marches pleading for army tanks and discourses by religious leaders ever have taken place.
The JNUTA strongly condemns this authoritarian cancellation. It demands that permission be granted for all talks that were scheduled today to be allowed to proceed without hindrance.
Ayesha Kidwai and Pradeep Shinde