In response to the 10th April 2022 incident at Kaveri Hostel and the Registrar’s Press Statement

Dear Prof Pandit,

This is with reference to the incidents of violence that took place in Kaveri Hostel on 10/04/22. At the outset, we would like to welcome the statement made by the Rector, in an interview to the India Today, asserting plurality in food habits, calling for religious harmony on campus, and abhorring violence. At the same time, we would like to express our dismay at a subsequent press release dated 11/4/22 from the Registrar giving the whole incident a communal colour whereas it is clear that the havan, for which there was no permission given by the warden, was not disrupted by anyone. To give a communal dimension to the whole incident, when none existed, by none other than the Registrar himself, is most unfortunate. Moreover, the Registrar seems to have already passed a judgment without any enquiry into the incident, which makes his assertion irresponsible. We hope that your good offices would prevail and that you would take an objective and a non-partisan view otherwise any enquiry would be seen as already prejudiced.

As far as the religious festivals go, JNU has always had a steadfast position drawn from Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of sarv dharma sambhav. Never have they been disrupted by any section of the student community, whether of this or that group, and that maturity of respecting each other’s religious practices and festivals is something exceptional in the university, a practice which should be cherished.

Being an alumna of the campus, we are sure that this is not the JNU you would have either seen during your time or would approve of today. We do not need to impress upon someone like you that, despite the fiercest of debates for which this campus is well-known, those differences never resulted in violence. This recent incident, however, comes in the backdrop of a spate of violent incidents, the most infamous of which happened on January 5, 2020 when unidentified masked goons attacked teachers and students on campus. The assailants are still at large.

We would like to impress upon you the need to reaffirm the democratic values that this university is known for. We believe the following steps may help in this regard:

  1. A thorough and an impartial enquiry be instituted in this incident.
  2. Given the many security lapses (including of multiple cases of robbery) on campus, the contract of the current security agency should be terminated forthwith.
  3. Linked to the previous point, if the internal security mechanisms had worked, there would have been no need for police intervention. In fact, the Delhi police was allegedly a mute spectator during this incident even after they arrived. Unlike many other campuses across the country, where police presence is a norm, the hallmark of JNU has always been the absence of police. Only when things have gone out of hand, like they have in the last few years, had police intervention been required. But even those conditions would not have arisen if proper and timely action had been taken by the administration. We believe if such situations can be controlled before they flare up, we may not need any intervention by the police. The onus of not letting it flare up lies upon the JNU community. While ideally this process can be left to the community to ensure under normal circumstances, there has to be a clear demonstration of the Administration’s policy of zero tolerance for violence of any kind.

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