End the culture of violence on JNU campus

The JNU campus has, for many years, represented a space where any form of violence was unacceptable— this was an attitude shared by all sections of the university. It has been a university that consistently upheld non-violent means to achieve the shared ideals of justice, equality, and inclusiveness. The unprecedented unleashing of violence on the campus on 5th January 2020 and other incidents of violence in the same year dealt a severe blow to the idea of a ‘safe’ campus that the university community had almost come to take for granted. The 2020 violence played out under the watch of the previous Vice Chancellor, M. Jagadesh Kumar, and was operationalized by the security agency, Cyclops Security and Allied Services Pvt. Ltd., hired by him.

JNUTA views the recent incidence of violence witnessed on the JNU campus on 22.08.2022 against this backdrop. While strongly deploring any delay in MCM scholarships that enable students from economically challenged backgrounds to study at JNU, it finds any form of violence completely unacceptable, be it perpetrated by the students or the security personnel. It is also clear that Cyclops was not only unable to contain the violence but also was a party to it. JNUTA also denounces the way a section of the students have been holding the entire university community to ransom by closing the main gate for seven days now.

In its statement as early as 02.04.2020, JNUTA had demanded ‘immediate action by the Administration to remove from duty in JNU some of the key personnel of the Cyclops Security…’. In a more recent statement issued on 16.05.2022, JNUTA stressed the ‘need for a professional and well-trained security force which is sensitive and cognisant of the needs of students, staff and faculty on a residential university campus.’ Despite the assurances by the JNU administration that a new security agency is being hired, we are still in the dark about its process and timeline.

JNUTA views with alarm and sadness what can only be called the normalisation of physical aggression on the campus over the last few years. The campus that the JNU community wishes to see rebuilt is one that has zero tolerance for violence in any form, whatever be the dispute. It strongly believes that it is the responsibility of the JNU administration to ensure a safe and secure campus and demand that the administration take immediate and effective steps towards this.

The JNUTA also believes that the teachers of JNU, though numerically the smallest constituent of the campus community, have the greatest stake in the campus culture that has been nurtured over the last 50 years. As teachers, we both educate successive generations of students into critical questioning as well as the democratic norms that must hold sway over every interaction in the campus. It is unfortunately the case that the authoritarian regime of the past six years has encouraged an explicit or tacit endorsement of physical and verbal violence, sexual harassment, undemocratic and inhuman conduct in every section of our campus community.

The JNUTA believes that if this regressive culture of violence is to be prevented from spiraling out of control, every member of the teaching community as well as the JNU authorities must take the personal responsibility of a civil and civic comportment. The teachers of JNU in particular must show the way at this crucial juncture, by their own conduct in respecting the human rights and differing opinions of others.

1 Comment

  1. Violence is not at all desired in any academic institution. JNU is a place for vibrant academic culture. I strongly condemn the violence took place in JNU Campus.
    At the same time JNU administration must release students fellowship in time.

    Like

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