AISA condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the heinous murder of Umar Mohammed by the ‘Gau Rakshak’ goons on 10 November near Pahadi Kaman in Bharatpur, Rajasthan. Cow vigilantes brutally killed Umar and then threw his body on the railway tracks to make it look like an ‘accident’. To top it all, in what has now seemingly become ‘Standard Operating Procedure’ in BJP-administered states, the government is busy criminalizing the victims and Muslims, rather than punishing murderers. Continue reading
Muthukrishnan Has Left Us…
The Struggle for Equality against Discrimination and Against Gagging of Alternative Voices Must Go On.
Enact Rohith Act!
Rebuff the UGC Notification and Seat Cuts!
Fight Back Denial of Equal Opportunities for the Under-Privileged in Higher Educational Institutions!
AISA expresses deep shock and grief at the sudden demise of Muthukrishanan Jeevanantham, an M.Phil first year student in the Centre for Historical Studies in JNU. Muthu hailed from a Dalit family who overcame several hurdles to get through the JNU M.Phil entrance exam. We express our support, solidarity and condolences to Muthu’s family and demand a thorough enquiry to probe reasons behind his death.
As a first generation learner in research, Muthu had been vocal about the lack of equal opportunities and systematic alienation of the unprivileged in higher education. From #JusticeforRohith, #JusticeforNajeeb to struggles against seat cut and imposition of the UGC Notification, Muthu has been a part of all these struggles.
“When equality is denied, everything is denied”, Muthu said in one of his last public posts. While we remember Muthu as a part of the spirited students’ movement of today, his death has left behind several questions for the rulers and administrations.
It is more than one year now that Rohith Vemula was pushed to death in HCU after an entire state machinery, including two Union Ministers of the BJP government and the HCU VC, were hell bent on punishing Rohith and his friends for having a political opinion that contradicts that of the RSS. Demand of a Rohith Act resounded all over the country in the course of the mass upsurge that followed Rohith Vemula’s death. We demanded Rohith Act to end caste discrimination inside campuses. We demanded Rohith Act to address the pattern of high drop out of students from marginalised backgrounds. We demanded institutional accountability for segregation of students from marginalised section inside campuses, non-fulfilment of reservation in all sectors, lack of fellowship and hostel facilities and absence of institutions like Equal Opportunity Cells in all campuses. The government has not heeded to the demand till now. On the contrary, committees and enquiries have been set up to question Rohith’s identity itself. Muthu himself has talked about non-implementation of the Thorat committee, which recommended institutional redressal to discrimination and alienation of students from marginalised communities. While the government of the day is in complete denial to recognise discrimination and alienation of unprivileged students, it is the responsibility of the student movement to intensify the struggle for implementation of a Rohith Act.
The same regime which denies justice for Rohith and Najeeb when they reach universities has come out with a UGC Notification to cut down seats in research curriculum in Universities. Rather than taking up the task to fulfil existing faculty vacancies and creating more posts to expand the scope of higher education, the UGC Notification is effectively being used to massively cut down research seats in public universities. First they tried to end the research scholarship and now through the UGC Notification, gates of higher learning are being closed for first generation learners like Muthu.
Along with this policy offensive Muthu’s generation of students are also fighting the silencing and criminalisation of alternative voices. Hate politics of BJP in power and RSS appointed administrations inside campuses are trying to criminalise students based on what they eat, think or choose. Alternative discourses to mythology and culture are termed anti-national. Talking about communal riots is being banned inside campuses. Hate mongers and assaulters are being set free as has been seen in Najeeb’s case, while sites of protests for demanding rights and equality are being curtailed.
Muthu’s death has once again raised the question of alienation of marginalised students in higher educational institutions. We demand that a through enquiry be instituted to look into everything leading to his tragic death. It is time that all institutions including JNU are held accountable for academic alienation of students from marginalised sections. We must demand Social Audit of all universities on admission and dropout rate of students from marginalised sections as well as infrastructure and academic attention provided for them. After 70 years of independence, we cannot allow our institutions to evade the responsibility to keep gates open especially for first generation learners. Universities mean nothing if they do not primarily take up the task of educating students from marginalised sections.
This is a time for all of us to look into our spaces and universities and to evaluate how much they are accessible and reassuring to the unprivileged. It is also a time for all of us to continue to challenge the regime of oppression and inequality and to carry forward the struggle for justice, dignity and equality.
8 March 2017- International Women’s Day
Identifying the Foundations of Women’s Oppression, Charting the Course of Struggles for Liberation
8 March – International Women’s Day – was born in the struggles that women factory workers in their thousands waged against bondage a century ago.
Women workers in garment and other factories in the USA in 1909 first observed ‘Women’s Day’ with huge demonstrations to demand labour laws (including the 8-hour working day) and the right to vote for women. In 1910, the Second International Conference of Working Women at Copenhagen accepted German socialist leader Clara Zetkin’s proposal that International Women’s Day be celebrated every year demanding rights for working women, including labour laws for women, the right to vote, and peace. In keeping with that decision, communists organised International Women’s Day the next year in many countries, and in Germany, 30000 women workers participated in processions, defying police repression. Since 1913, International Women’s Day has been celebrated every year on 8 March as a day of women’s assertion of their commitment to liberation and to the struggle for a world free of every kind of oppression.
Ironically, the powers-that-be and the advertisements all across try to hide the real legacy of Women’s Day and seek to establish a different narrative. They try to tell us that International Women’s Day (IWD) is an occasion when husbands are supposed to buy women washing machines and kitchen gadgets, when boyfriends are supposed to buy them flowers, and governments are supposed to make promises for ‘women empowerment’. So, as we approach the IWD 2017, it is important for us to collectively reassert the fighting legacy of the international women’s day and draw lessons for the tasks and challenges at hand.
The Present Context:
On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2017 let us reiterate some key concerns of the women’s movement in India. Women’s oppression is not ‘natural’ – it came into being in the course of human history. Marxism helps us to identify the material circumstances in which such oppression was born and in which it is sustained. In the most early human societies, women were not oppressed, and there was no rigid ‘gender division of labour.’ That is, women could hunt and gather food just as men did. Women were revered for their ability to give birth, and pregnant women or nursing mothers might stay away from hunts. But as such, there was no concept of gender inequality.
Engels, in his book “The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State”, shows us that institutions like ‘family’ and monogamous marriage are historic institutions – i.e. they came into being at a certain juncture in history, coinciding with the rise of private property and class conflict.
Engels looks are historic evidence of how early human societies – and surviving indigenous (adivasi) societies – do not have systematic gender or class inequality and oppression. The knowledge of who is the father of a child is not considered important. Families trace their lineage from mother to daughter.
With the domestication of animals and with agriculture, humans were able to create and preserve a surplus – over and above the bare minimum needed to survive. Class-divisions emerged in society as a section of humans began to control the surplus and treat it as ‘private property’ or private wealth. Coinciding with the emergence of class society, we find the rise of inequality between men and women.
The family and monogamous marriage are institutions that help to ensure that property can be inherited from father to son – and to ensure a legitimate son, women’s sexuality must be controlled and monogamy ensured. Engels shows how throughout the history of monogamy, monogamy has been enforced only on women while men have been free to have sexual relations outside of marriage. We can add here that the ideological privileging of heterosexual monogamy was also accompanied in some societies by the criminalisation of homosexuality and other sexual orientations and identities. Just as there is nothing ‘natural’ about women’s oppression, there is nothing ‘unnatural’ about homosexuality.
With the rise of private property, production moved outside the household and was controlled by men – while tasks of ‘reproduction’ – not only bearing children but the work of ‘reproducing’ society and the next generation, i.e. cooking, cleaning, caring for children, the elderly etc. were were relegated to the ‘private’ sphere (the family) and allotted to women. The gender division of labour was born. Engels observed that
“With the patriarchal family, and still more with the single monogamous family, a change came. Household management lost its public character. It no longer concerned society. It became a private service; the wife became the head servant, excluded from all participation in social production.”
What happens to the family institution under capitalism? Capitalism requires women and even children to be drawn into the workforce as paid labour. But it also requires women to continue to bear the burden of unpaid care work inside the household. Let us understand this problem a little better.
Capitalism Needs Domestic Labour
Marx identified labour power as the source of surplus value. What is surplus value? It is value produced by the worker in excess of the minimum value required to sustain and regenerate the worker and replenish his or her labour power. The capitalist seeks to push down this minimum value as low as possible, so as to increase the surplus value. That is, it seeks to pay the worker as little as possible.
To understand this better, let’s look at a poster.
The poster shows workers entering a factory gate in the morning and coming out in the evening. What happens between that entry and exit? How do the workers who exit the workplace exhausted each evening – their labour power depleted – make it to work again the next morning with their labour power replenished? The answer is: the workers’ labour power is replenished by those who cook meals for them, provide various kinds of comfort and care inside the home. And the bulk of such work is done by women.
The capitalist knows that workers need meals, a roof over the head, a bed, sleep – so as to be available for work the next day. Plus, the capitalist also needs the workforce of the future to be reproduced – i.e. children to be born. And it needs future workers (children of workers) to be cared for. It also needs the unemployed – members of the reserve army of labour – to be cared for. Moreover there is the problem of past workers – retired workers, aged and elderly people etc. But the capitalist does not wish to have to bear the burden of this cooking and care, because if either the individual capitalist or the State pays for this burden, it decreases the surplus value produced by the worker. Much of this (unpaid) labour of cooking, cleaning, caring for children and the elderly, providing loving human communication and care is done by people within households, families and communities – and the bulk of this labour is done by women.
Let us look at another poster from the workers’ struggle for the 8-hour day. The poster declares that the 24-hour day must be divided into three parts: 8 hours each for work, rest, and ‘what we will’ (whatever we like or enjoy). Of course, the capitalist wants to increase the ‘work’ part of the day as much as possible, and shrink the ‘rest’ and ‘leisure’ part of the day as much as possible. But think about this 24-hour day from the point of view of a woman.
If a woman is not a paid worker, she is actually working 24 hours a day – because domestic labour has no fixed working hours: if a baby cries in the night or wets itself, it must be attended to immediately. If she is a paid worker, she is doing a double shift, because after a hard day at work, she still has to come home and cook and care for others. She does not have 8 hours for rest and 8 hours for ‘what you will’ (which can include leisure, enjoyment as well as something like attending meetings of unions and women’s organisations.) She has a much harder struggle than men to make time for these activities.
Think about it – this domestic labour is endless. It involves collecting fuel and water as well as the actual process of cooking. It involves playing with children, wiping the tears of a crying child, waking up in the middle of the night to care for a sick child or adult.
Now some will say – how great women are, they do this wonderful work uncomplainingly, because that is the nature of women. Women’s Day is an occasion to salute such women, give them our respect. But we say that such ‘praise’ is an ideological ploy – a way of justifying and glorifying oppression. The women’s movement as well as revolutionary Marxists all over the world have challenged the ideology that claims that such unpaid, unrecognised labour of social reproduction is ‘natural’ to women and is ‘women’s work.’ They have said that a) men must share this domestic labour and b) the employer and the State must be made to bear greater burdens of social reproduction, by providing welfare measures, water, fuel, food, messes or canteens providing cooked food, pensions for the elderly, healthcare, maternity benefits, education and child care etc.
Women, as we have already noted, bear the bulk of the burden of domestic labour, which is part of the labour of ‘social reproduction.’ Capitalism needs labour power to be reproduced – and women bear the burden of this reproduction. The tasks of social reproduction do not only comprise unpaid work done inside the home: they also comprise paid domestic work, sanitation work, cooking mid-day meals in schools, teaching, healthcare work and so on. In India such work is often contractualised and extremely underpaid. It is no coincidence that much of this underpaid work of social reproduction is also done by women. And also, Dalits and Dalit women do a disproportionate share of the forms of social reproductive labour that are considered ‘dirty.’
Social reproduction also involves the reproduction of the entire structure of oppressive social relationships of class, caste, gender, race – day after day, generation after generation. In India, controlling women’s reproduction and sexuality is required not only to maintain the patriarchal transfer of private property but also to ensure the reproduction of the caste system. It is in large measure through the institutions of family/household that control of women’s reproduction and sexuality is achieved and women’s unpaid domestic labour is made possible.
Challenging the Patriarchal Commonsense of ‘Private/Public’, ‘Home/World’ Binary
A Marxist approach to the women’s movement helps us to look at the entire structure of society – and the role of women’s inequality and oppression – whole rather than through the binaries of ‘ghare’ and ‘baire’, ‘family’ and ‘workplace,’ ‘private’ and ‘public.’
In the dominant discourse, we find that on the one hand it is argued that women are ‘safe’ within families and face ‘danger’ when ‘forced’ to go ‘outside’ (to work, to defecate, to study etc). On the other hand, gender and caste discrimination, oppression and violence is defined as a problem of ‘culture’ – basically a problem of the sphere of the ‘family’ or ‘community,’ and so the ‘private’ problem of individuals and families or the ‘cultural’ problem of communities rather than the problem and responsibility of the State and public institutions. How do we challenge this dominant discourse?
We can see very clearly how the family/household institution disciplines and schools women in unpaid care work duties; teaches men entitlement over women’s labour, sexuality and reproduction; defines domestic violence as the “chastisement” of women for failure to do her “duties”; and helps to reproduce the ideologies and hierarchies of caste and gender, generation after generation.
In India, National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 2005-06 data, as well as data gathered by the Indian Human Development Survey (IHDS) 2012 establish how denial of autonomy is itself a form of violence and discrimination faced by Indian women. It is important to emphasise this point, because State policies as well as patriarchal common sense often prescribe and impose restrictions on women’s autonomy and mobility in the name of keeping them ‘safe’ from violence.
- Only 5% of women in India have sole control over choosing their husbands – IHDS 2012
- 79.88% of women need permission to visit a health centre – IHDS 2012
NFHS 2005-06 data shows that the patriarchal sense of entitlement to women’s domestic services, helps legitimise domestic violence. Between 34-62 percent of men and women – ranging from educated to illiterate – believe that domestic violence is justified for one reason or another. Both category of respondents, men and women, tended to justify wife beating on the following ‘grounds’ – if wives argue with the husband, fail to show proper respect to in-laws, neglect the house or children, or go out without telling the husband. Women are tied by very widespread domestic violence to the social reproductive domestic roles ‘fixed’ for them – but patriarchal hegemony ensures that a large percentage of women accept such violence as the norm.
Even rape statistics in India reveal a high level of disguised violence against women’s autonomy. In her article ‘Rape, Rhetoric and Reality’, (The Hindu, December 19, 2014), Rukmini S points out that no less than 40% of “what is classified as rape (in Delhi police files) is actually parental criminalisation of consensual sexual relationships, often when it comes to inter-caste and inter-religious couples.” Each of the women in these ‘rape’ cases, then, are victims not of rape, but of coercion and violence by their own parents, families, and communities in their own homes. But this violence remains an open secret, in which even the police is complicit, and such violence now enjoys political sanction and encouragement from political forces patronised by ruling parties.
Domestic violence as well as restrictions on women’s mobility then, are inflicted on women by the families and communities they are born in, in order to prevent them from posing a threat to the caste order. And once married, women are subjected to domestic violence to discipline them into performing social reproductive labour. In India marriage involves moving into the marital home, which is often far away from the woman’s natal home. One of the most common forms of domestic violence is to prevent the newly-wed woman from contacting her parents and friends. The bride is subjected to various forms of humiliation and shaming – a sort of ‘ragging’ that is supposed to break her into her new role. As a result, the newly-wed bride’s situation becomes comparable in vulnerability to that of migrant labour. This isolation and vulnerability of the new bride, a migrant in ‘her own home,’ mostly disguised and romanticised ideologically, becomes starkly visible in instances for example in Haryana where, thanks to the low sex ratio, brides are ‘imported’ and purchased from other states.
Disciplinary Methods Drawn From Caste and Household Systems
Not only households, even the State feel entitled to demand social reproductive labour from women: both unpaid labour inside the home as well as severely underpaid ‘voluntary’ labour from incentive- or honorarium-based workers. The State, then, has no interest in challenging the systematic denial of women’s autonomy or the ‘normalcy’ of domestic violence. This leads to a peculiar situation where state-led campaigns exhort society to allow girls to be born – so that they can grow up to fulfil social reproductive duties later! Beti Bachao campaign slogans such as Beti nahin bachaoge to bahu kahan se laoge – If you don’t save a daughter today how will you get a bride tomorrow – reflect the fact that such campaigns originated in Haryana with the ‘Unmarried Men’s Union’ (Avivahit Purush Sangathan) who declared that the low sex ratio was preventing them from getting the brides from the prescribed caste and community – brides they felt entitled to having. The Swacch Bharat campaign widely uses slogans and advertisements suggesting that toilets should be built so that daughters and daughter-in-law, who should be veiled and whose place is in the home, should never have to go outside the house.
Widespread restrictions on women’s mobility in India are one of the factors responsible for the low workforce participation rate of women. The state and capitalist forces want more women to be drawn into the labour force – but at the same time they want to prevent and curb the likely consequences of women joining the workforce: greater autonomy and mobility and control over their own lives.
In both production and social reproduction work, women workers are disciplined using tools and methods drawn from the social reproductive spheres of the household and the education system, as well as from the caste system. By doing so the Indian State and Indian Governments seek to offer a docile, disciplined and unlikely-to-revolt (or so they hope) female workforce as an incentive to global capital to ‘Make in India.’ So, young women garment workers (mostly Dalit) in Tamil Nadu factories producing for global brands, keep women under strict surveillance in hostels, prevent any social outing or mobility outside the hostel or factory premises; punish socialisation between female and male workers; ban mobile phones for women workers and mete out humiliating casteist punishments to them for violating these rules. The factory managements justify these restrictions (similar to restrictions in women’s hostels in education institutions) by claiming that the workers’ families demand them.
The social relationships of caste and gender together are also other means of disciplining workers. For instance, in rural Bihar or Andhra Pradesh, the upper caste landlord will assert a feudal sense of entitlement over not only the labour but the sexual being of Dalit women labourers. What happens when the women workers migrate to the city? One woman sanitation worker in Bangalore, a Dalit migrant woman from Andhra Pradesh, referring to the fact that the contractors contractors are also from Andhra Pradesh and inevitably from the dominant Reddy (Kapu) caste, put it this way, “We escaped our villages in Chittur, Nellore, Ananthpuram and other districts of Andhra and ran to Bangalore to escape the caste oppression at the hands of the Kapus and they have now followed us to the cities and force us to shed our sweat and blood for them to prosper!”
Communal Fascism and the Metaphor of ‘Family’
Communal fascists also exploit the widespread anxieties over women’s sexual autonomy as a threat to the caste system. They use the slogan of love jihad to foment communal hatred and violence directed at real and imagined inter-faith love.
It is significant that one of the central metaphors of the Sangh’s ‘social harmony’ rhetoric is that of the ‘home’ – ‘Ghar,’ and its sister-term ‘family’ – ‘parivar.’ This metaphor is evoked to valorize the patriarchal family and subjugation of women – even to the extent of justifying wife-beating as necessary chastisement of erring wives. (‘Holier Than Cow: Wisdom on women from a Rashtra Sevika Sangh camp,’ Neha Dixit, Outlook, 28 January 2013) The RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat describes the RSS as ‘familyist not feminist;’ feminist assertions of women’s autonomy are painted as Western-inspired disruptions of the harmonious Indian family. Oppressive social practices and restrictions on women’s mobility are all rationalized as having evolved to ‘protect’ women from ‘rapacious Muslims’.
Hindu religion is described, moreover, as the ‘home’ for Dalits and Muslims, and to prescribe and order ‘ghar wapsi’ – ‘return home’ for these sections. The RSS and BJP recast relations between workers and bosses as harmonious relations within the ‘industry family,’ whereby justifying erosion and dilution of labour laws. To justify child labour and dilute the child labour abolition laws, in the name of allowing ‘family-based’ occupations to employ children.
The analogy of ‘family’ and ‘home’ are invoked not only to glamourise gender hierarchy but class and caste hierarchies. And communal violence in the name of curbing ‘love jehad’ are as hostile to women’s autonomy and equality as to the claims of Muslim and Dalit men to equality and dignity.
What are some of the conclusions that revolutionary Marxists and all those who want to fight patriarchy and structures of oppression can draw?
We cannot say that we must fight ‘cultural’ arena first, change mindsets, and that the task of challenging structures of production can come ‘later.’
Neither can we say that we must fight ‘economic’ oppression first and that the questions of violence and discrimination and attacks on women’s autonomy inside households can come ‘later.’
We can’t say we will fight communal fascism first, women’s rights and equality can come ‘later.’
We can’t say we will fight to annihilate caste first, and questions of gender and women’s freedom can come ‘later.’
We have to fight on all these fronts together – seeing how essential each such fight is to other fights.
It means the asserting the right to autonomy in households and family – women’s azaadi inside homes from their own parents, brothers, husbands, control over her own life, decisions, sexuality and reproduction – as central to struggles to annihilate caste, resist communalism, organise working class struggles. It means working class struggles can’t be organised only on factory floors or workplaces – but everywhere, including in the communities where workers live. In those areas, it will mean demanding state support for social reproductive tasks (homes, running water, fuel, public toilets, food rations, children’s education, health, maternity entitlements, pensions for all etc). It will mean asserting women’s right to toilet breaks, food, workplace safety, healthcare etc – as well as equal wages and committees against sexual harassment at the workplace. It will mean asserting that Dalit men and women will no longer do the work of cleaning human or animal excreta or animal carcasses. It will mean challenging the feudal-style caste hierarchies between maalik (boss) and mazdoor (worker) that are found in rural India but often reproduced in cities. It means fighting for women’s fullest freedom in those communities and in the process confronting caste and communal divisions directly and breaking down these divisions. It will mean asserting the right of all women to leisure and pleasure, liberty and equality.
An AISA – AIPWA Publication.
Demand Punishment of the ABVP Goons and Suspension of Police Officers who Let Day-Long violence Happen!
Reclaim DU and the City from Fascist Hooliganism!
Hundreds of students gathered to protest against disruption of a seminar in Ramjas college by ABVP goons. JNU student Umar Khalid was supposed to present a paper in the seminar. The ABVP which manufactured the crackdown in JNU last in year in February, vandalised the seminar by an open show of hooliganism. In front of police presence stones were thrown by ABVP goons at the seminar hall causing severe safety threat to the students and teachers present at the seminar. All these were done in front of Delhi Police at the spot who allowed the vandalism to happen through their intended inaction.
The next day, on 22nd February, hundreds of students gathered at Ramjas College for a peaceful protest march from Ramjas to Maurice Nagar Police station demanding action against ABVP hooliganism. What unfolded on 22nd as well was once again a public show of Delhi Police’s collusion with the ABVP in letting a reign of terror and violence spread over North Campus for several hours. ABVP goons surrounded and attacked the students who gathered for protest inside Ramjas College. They then started attacking protesters from different colleges of Delhi outside Ramjas as well. While the large number of protesters continued demanding arrest of ABVP goons, ABVP hooligans were let free by Delhi Police to attack the protesters. Along with physical violence on Protesters, ABVP pelted sharp stones at protesters several times. Several students and teachers got severely injured due to stone pelting and violence by ABVP. Several of them were taken to the hospital.
The protesters marched to Maurice Nagar Police station and filed complaint with the police. In spite of video footages, MLC reports, written complaints, the police hasn’t registered any FIR yet. The police itself was witness to ABVP’s hooliganism the entire day. However, it continues to refuse to initiate even the initial action and filing of FIR yet.
What is most shameful is that the Maurice Nagar Police force which did NOTHING to stop ABVP’s rioting the entire day unleashed brutal lathi charge on Protesters who were present in front of Maurice Nagar Police station demanding filling of FIR. The ABVP goons who were roaming free till then and were present near the police station colluded with the Delhi Police in beating up the students further. Several students who were at their way back from the protest were attacked by ABVP when they were alone. One AISA activist got severely injured when she was attacked by a group of ABVP activists in a bus.
It is necessary to emphasise that it is not the number or support of common students on ABVP’s side, but their collusion with state machinery such as the Delhi Police that emboldened their day long hooliganism and violence. The police’s role on 21st and 22nd February has proved beyond any shade of doubt that the Delhi Police is acting as the political organ of the BJP government in power.
*The police which regularly records all protests in the city is now clamming that they do not have any video footage of the incident. Several protesters and journalists have captured ABVP’s violence. But the police has till now denied to make these the basis of FIR, let alone their own eye witness account of the riot.
* In spite of severe head and body injuries faced by protesters no FIR against ABVP has been filed till now.
* The police which arranges several platoons of forces to arrest, detain and lathi charge protesters demanding justice in the city didn’t send extra force in DU to control the riot by ABVP.
* The police which did NOTHING to stop ABVP Hooliganism the entire day, brutally beat up students who were sitting peacefully in front of Maurice Nagar Police station demanding FIR.
Friends, last year February as well the Sangh and its student wing used the media and the police to unleash Crackdown on JNU and spread terror in the national capital. JNUSU President was beaten up at the Patiala House Court premises. But it was the immense unity and mobilisation of the students, teachers and citizens of Delhi that we reclaimed our city and universities from Fascist take over. Let us unite and fight back against the reign of terror and violence by ABVP. Let us hold hands and demand
* Immediate FIR and arrest of the ABVP goons who rioted in DU on 21st and 22nd.
* Suspension of police officers at Maurice Nagar for blatant inaction in stopping the riot and violence.
* Accountability of Delhi Police Commissioner in the entire episode. When goons took over the city’s streets and university, why wasn’t necessary force deployed to stop it? Why wasn’t the Delhi Police active in stopping the violence?
It is only through a powerful unity of the democracy and justice loving forces that we can defeat the political Nexus of the fascist goons and the police machinery. Let us unite and fight back.
17 Days of Indefinite Hunger Strike
17 Days: Raju (Raju had to break his strike due to serious deterioration in health on the 17th day), 8 Days: Ravi Ranjan, Day 1: Akshay, Marie, Banshidhar
Strengthen the Ongoing Struggle – This is a Battle In Defence of Our Future, In Defence of JNU!
Join Massive Human Chain – Feb 17 Friday, 4PM
The JNU VC is shockingly announcing arbitrary decisions and fundamental changes in JNU’s admission policy and research programmes through press conferences – refusing either to discuss these in JNU’s decision-making bodies like AC, or to meet students’ and teachers’ representatives. It is now 17 days since JNUSU began an indefinite hunger strike against the arbitrary and unilateral imposition of the 2016 UGC notification by the JNU administration. For more than two months now, students and teachers have been raising crucial questions regarding this notification. Instead, the administration is threatening students with punitive action, when students worried about their future and about JNU’s research quality, are simply seeking explanations and answers.
Friends, VC’s press statements & circulars have made it abundantly clear that he is adamant on (a) continuing with his unilateral imposition of the 5 May 2016 UGC Notification and (b) admissions in and conduct of JNU’s M.Phil./Ph.D. programmes will now be dictated by the arbitrary number of ‘supervisor-student’ ratio in the UGC Notification.
JNU presently follows a system of “Annual Admissions to an integrated M.Phil./Ph.D.”, based on ‘Intake/Offer’ decided by different centres. But according to JNU VC’s interpretation of the UGC Notification, there will be no “fixed” seats in M.Phil./Ph.D. anymore – rather, seat availability will now be ‘dynamic’, based on the number of so-called “vacancies”- i.e. whether any faculty has fewer students than the UGC specified cap!
Recall that initially, the VC had had been tweeting that protesting students are spreading “rumours” of seat cuts, and that there will be “no seat cuts” (despite several circulars and JNU website notices on ‘’seat cuts’’). Now he is trying to hide the ‘’seat cut’’ move with the jumla of ‘dynamic seats,’ admitting in effect that he had scrapped the very concept of a fixed number of seats, and so there is no question of seat cuts!
The dangerous implications of VC’s ‘Dynamic’ Seats’ jumla– a Cover-Up for ‘Seat Cut’:
- It will mean Massive Seat Cuts in M.Phil./Ph.D. admissions as already notified through “negative vacancies” in JNU website (6 Feb onwards) and circulars (11/1/17 and 11/2/17) from Director of Admissions. Here is link to JNU website showing ‘negative vacancies for admission’ – http://www.jnu.ac.in/Admission/SchoolwiseProg.pdf.
- A virtual closure to the existing system of Annual Admissions for M.Phil./Ph.D. for all batches to come.
- A body blow to the scope for “reservations” as the so-called ‘vacant’ seats will arise only in small numbers and not in annual bulk.
- Dismantling the “Integrated” character of JNU’s M.Phil./Ph.D. Programme, as according to VC’s new ‘formula’, continuation in Ph.D. will be will no longer be guaranteed by CGPA scored in M.Phil., but will based on whether number of students under a supervisor is below the specified limit!
- Discouraging students and downgrading research: Supervisors to be allotted not on the basis of students’ area of choice or faculty’s area of expertise, but only on whether a faculty has fewer students than the UGC specified cap.
- Thus, not only those who aspire to get admission in JNU for M.Phil./Ph.D, but also those who are already admitted in M.Phil./PhD. program are under a massive survival threat because of VC’s authoritarian step.
Why The VC’s Move of Seat Cut is Fundamentally Wrong and Motivated:
- Firstly, the present number of seats in JNU has been fixed as part of the implementation of OBC reservation and the concomitant expansion of seats, infrastructure and faculty (during 2008-10), mandated by the 93rd amendment of the Constitution. Even the agenda of 142nd AC Meeting includes the “intake/offer” list of admissions based on this 93rd Constitution amendment (i.e., 54% increase in intake of 2006- the base year for calculating expansion for OBC reservation), which the VC is now trying to negate. So the VC’s move to tamper with JNU’s existing Intake/Seats/Admissions is plainly unlawful and cannot be accepted.
- Secondly, cutting down admissions is not the only way to ensure a certain “supervisor-researcher ratio” – the answer is to recruit adequate faculty. Why should the students be made to suffer and why should future research avenues be curtailed?
- Thirdly, when JNU with its present “faculty-student” strength has been rated as the best Central University and when no teacher is complaining of any “overburden” and are in fact are opposing seat cut, why is the VC so keen to shut down admissions in JNU’s research programmes for several years to come?
- Fourthly, research students cannot be allotted a supervisor just based on the fact that the supervisor is now guiding fewer than the ‘specified’ number of students! Supervisors are allotted based on their field of expertise and the student’s chosen field of research. Imposing an abstract ‘numbers’ rule will spoil JNU’s record as the best Central University because it will be a body blow to the quality of research supervision and discourage students to pursue research as per their academic interest.
- Fifthly, VC’s claim that all provisions of social justice are being retained in JNU is also another jumla and white lie on at least two counts: (a) the VC swears by the UGC notification which fixes uniform 50% marks to qualify the written exam without any relaxation for the reserved categories and JNU has not announced the mandated “relaxations” for students from deprived backgrounds at each and every stage of elimination in the admission process, despite a categorical verdict from the Delhi High Court- the Gautam Sharma Vs. JNU (19 Jan 2016); (b) VC is making JNU’s unique system of deprivation points in fructuous, by adding it after the viva stage when the students from deprived backgrounds and areas have already lost out in the initial stages of a “multi-stage elimination” based admission process.
Trampling Upon Due Procedure, Undermining All Statutory Decision Making Bodies:
In no way can the JNU VC alter the current criterion of admission and continuing in M.Phil./Ph.D. and bring in ‘’supervisor-researcher’’ ratio as a precondition, and that too without being discussed or decided by the University’s statutory bodies such as the Academic Council. The VC, instead of addressing the crisis situation and questions from students and teachers, is only interested in peddling falsities to the media.
- Firstly, the UGC Notification is an issue which directly affects the students and hence needs to be placed for discussion in Part A of the AC meeting, where students participate. But this was not done, and it was placed only in the Part B of 142nd AC meeting, where there is no student representation. And the teachers have testified in unison from the very day of the AC meeting, that UGC notification was neither “discussed” nor “approved” but bulldozed in the part B of 142nd AC meeting!
- Secondly, on a closer scrutiny of administration’s own version of the “Agenda and Minutes of 142nd AC- Part B”, it is amply clear that the specific clause of “supervisor-researcher ratio” in the UGC Notification was kept as a separate item in the agenda under the title “to be discussed.” The “minutes of 142nd AC- Part B”, circulated by the administration, do not record any “discussion” or “adoption” of this specific clause of the UGC Notification. When, even as per administration’s own version, the “supervisor-researcher ratio” clause of UGC circular has not been “adopted” by JNU’s AC, what is prompting the VC to interpret and impose it through arbitrary circulars and press conferences?
Below are relevant images of Pg 10 and 28 of the “Minutes of the Part B of 142nd AC meeting”. The minutes in Pg 10, point 6, claim that UGC Notification was adopted as reflected in the relevant changes in JNU’s M.Phil./Ph.D. Ordinance attached in Annexure II and Annexure III. The elaboration in the Annexures II & III of the Minutes show that 2 clauses of UGC Notification – Clause 6.5 related to Supervisor-researcher ratio and 13.1 & 13.2 related to award of degree – were listed separately as “items to be discussed” and that there is NO recording against these items as “discussed”/”resolved”/”adopted” for changes in JNU’s M.Phil./Ph.D. ordinance, as indeed no discussion took place at all on these and so there is no question of any adoption of these clauses of UGC Notification as is being claimed by the VC!
- Thirdly, as per JNU’s Act and Statutes, admission policies and ‘intake/offer’ of seats of admissions are to be discussed and decided through Centre-level, School Level Board of Studies and finally the Academic Council Meetings. Let us emphaise that the even agenda of 142nd AC Meeting includes the “intake/offer” list of admissions proposed by different centres, based on this 93rd Constitution amendment. This is what VC is trying to suppress and deny. Indeed, the VC seeks to replace all due forum and process through his incessant arbitrary circulars and Press Conferences, where he is both announcing and interpreting crucial policies as per his whims and fancy. The sanctity of all the forums and statutory decision making bodies of JNU like the AC are being trampled upon and a dangerous precedent is being for the entire institution and our collective future. VC cannot be allowed to act like a tyrant of feudal ages, as JNU is not his fiefdom nor are students and teachers his subjects. So the 142nd AC needs to reconvened to uphold the sanctity of JNU’s mandated decision making process.
With the VC’s grossly arbitrary and anti-student actions threatening to wipe out the admission prospects for the coming session and possibly several coming years in M.Phil./Ph.D., and also endanger the future for the existing students in M.Phil./Ph.D., we have no other means but to fight back to save our future and also the future of JNU.
JNUSU appeals to the student community to join and strengthen the ongoing struggle until the VC reconvenes the 142nd AC meeting and arbitrary impositions of the UGC notification is revoked.
This is a JNUSU Release.
Forcible Imposition of the 5th May 2016 UGC Notification by the JNU VC
Spells Massive Seat Cut in JNU’s M.Phil./Ph.D. Admission and Scuttling of Social Justice in the Admission Process!
Reconvene 142nd AC Meeting! Reject UGC Notification! Stop Seat Cut! Reduce Viva Weightage!
The Background: The JNU Vice Chancellor convened the 142nd AC meeting during the winter break on 23 Dec 2016, violating all norms and ignoring legitimate objections from teachers and students that AC meetings should not be held during vacations when several members of AC were out of campus. In the earlier AC meeting held in October, the VC promised to convene a special AC meeting within the semester to finalise the decision on the reduction of viva weightage. However, in the AC meeting of 23 Dec, instead of adopting the Viva Committee (Prof. Nafey Committee) Recommendations of reduction of viva weightage from 30 to 15, for which the AC was primarily meant, the VC suddenly forced the ‘adoption’ of a UGC notification of 5 May 2016!
With this single stroke, the VC not only nullified the hard work and long awaited recommendations to reduce viva weightage, he also sought to overhaul the entire admission process for M.Phil. /PhD. JNU’s present admission process – marked by the unique deprivation points system and the latest recommendation for viva weightage reduction – can serve as a model for inclusive and socially-just admissions for any university. The VC, through his unilateral imposition of the UGC notification, has dealt a body blow to JNU’s admission process for its entire research programme, by cutting down seats in M. Phil / Ph.D. as well as scuttling social justice in the admission process.
Dangerous Implications of the 5th May 2016 UGC Notification
What will the ‘adoption’ of the UGC notification mean for JNU’s M.Phil./Ph.D. admission process, research programme and the socially inclusive character of the university?
¨ Massive Seat Cut in M.Phil./Ph.D Admissions:
Most significantly, the UGC notification lays down “strict rules” regarding the eligibility of “research supervision”. It says:
“A Research Supervisor/Co-supervisor who is a Professor, at any given point of time, cannot guide more than three (3)M.Phil. and Eight (8) Ph.D. scholars. An Associate Professor as Research Supervisor can guide up to a maximum of two (2) M.Phil. and six (6) Ph.D. scholars and an Assistant Professor as Research Supervisor can guide up to a maximum of one (1) M.Phil. and four (4) Ph.D. scholars.”
Needless to say, such a cap on the numeber of research supervision will lead to a drastic reduction in the available number of MPhil and PhD seats in JNU, with many centres unable to provide a single seat over next few years. It is alarming that the Director of Admissions has sent off a circular on 11 Jan 2017 to different centres with the following order:
“Accordingly the number of students intake for M.Phil./PhD programmes will be recast on the basis of faculty strength of each school/centre/special school as per clause 6.5 of the above said UGC regulation”.
This is a clear farmaan for drastic SEAT CUT in the upcoming M.Phil./Ph.D. admissions jeopardising the admission opportunity of hundreds of students of JNU and elsewhere. This Seat-Cut formula has to be robustly resisted.
JNU administration must be categorically told that UGC-dictated cap of restricting M.Phil./Ph.D. admissions based on existing faculty strength has no logic so far JNU is concerned.
- Firstly, with its existing intake capacity, JNU is rated as a top university in research for decades by all “quality” indices. So what’s the need to impose the UGC-dictated cap on admissions in M.Phil./Phd.D. research programmes?
- Secondly, the JNU faculty is not complaining of ‘overburden’/’excess research scholars’; on the contrary, they have forcefully opposed the UGC notification. So why is the administration so keen for SEAT CUT in M.Phil./Ph.D. admissions?
- Thirdly and more fundamentally, is it correct to restrict admissions/enrolment in higher research based on the existing faculty strength? Or, the govt must plan to expand faculty strength in research programmes depending on the expanding number of new aspirants?
It is evident, that illogical the UGC notification is meant to trigger a downward spiral and steady reduction in the number of research scholars in the coming days and is only reflective of BJP govt.’s dangerous political agenda of somehow strangulating higher education and research in the country. Last year, BJP govt attempted the same by trying to withdraw Non-NET fellowship; this year they have struck back with this UGC notification to curb access to higher education and research.
When it is the need of the time to expand the scope of higher education for the vast majority of the Indian youth and make it accessible to the most marginalised section of the society the UGC notification is being used for reducing the existing inadequate number of seats and scuttling social justice. The UGC circular claims that it is putting ‘guidelines’ in place to ensure ‘quality’. The fact is: in the name of quality, the UGC is punishing students for NO fault of theirs. If there are not enough faculty members WHO is to be held responsible? Aren’t University administrations and the MHRD/UGC ultimately responsible for this? Why should students suffer because the MHRD has an agenda to kill publicly funded, affordable, quality higher education in India? The excuse of ‘quality’ or inadequate faculty cannot be used to reduce the number of students. The solution towards better ‘quality’ would be to increase investment in higher education, finish contractualisation of faculty posts, and guarantee fair appointments. But the MHRD/UGC are least interested in doing any of these.
Apart from the formula of direct SEAT CUTS, the adoption of UGC notification by JNU will kill the potential for social inclusion in higher education in MULTIPLE OTHER WAYS:
- Till 2016, the eligibility criteria for applying to JNU’s various programmes was decided by individual departments, depending on their requirements as well as past experiences. The minimum qualifying marks demanded by various programmes range from 45-55% (in MA for admission in the M. Phil programme, for instance). Also, relaxation in these eligibility criteria is provided to students from the PH/ SC/ST/OBC categories. As per the UGC circular all candidates to all M. Phil programmes will have to get a minimum of 55% in MA. The uniform 55% benchmark would clearly restrict several students from marginalized backgrounds from even appearing in the entrance test for M. Phil/Ph.D.
- All Universities have the right to decide their admission requirements, based on the specific nature of the programmes they offer. Several court judgements have upheld this right – the MHRD or the UGC cannot decide a single ‘eligibility’/selection criteria which has to be adopted by Universities all over the country. In other words, a “one-shoe-fits-all” philosophy is completely unacceptable, as this will destroy the ability of individual departments and Universities to cater to diverse students as well as research interests.
- In JNU, till now, in order to be called for the viva voce for M.Phil. admissions, students need to obtain a minimum marks (35% for unreserved categories, 31.5% for OBCs and 25% for SC/ST/PH out of 70; http://www.jnu.ac.in/Admission/AdmissionPolicy.pdf) in the written exam. Students from PH/SC/ST/OBC categories get legally mandated relaxation in this minimum eligibility criterion. According to the UGC circular, all students now have to obtain a minimum of 50% marks in the written exam, with no mention of relaxation to students from marginalised backgrounds.
Clearly, this will DRASTICALLY reduce the number of students eligible to even be called for the viva! In other words, JNU will not be able to fill the seats it has in various programmes. Seats reserved for SC/ST/OBC/PH will obviously see the heaviest casualties.
¨ 100% VIVA Based Admission :
The JNU Vice Chancellor is trying his best to go even one step ahead from the UGC in scuttling social justice and inclusive admission policy. The UGC notification states that the M. Phil /PhD admission will be based on a two step entrance process consisting of written and viva. It also states that written test will be a qualifier. In JNU entrance for integrated M. Phil/PhD is already a two step entrance test and a qualifying mark is fixed. Nowhere does the UGC notification mention that the written will be a mere qualifier. The Vice Chancellor’s attempt to replace the Nafey committee recommendations to reduce viva weightage from 30 to 15 by the UGC notification is nothing but a deliberate attempt to escape his responsibilities in reducing viva weightage.
The Vice Chancellor clearly intends to “over read” the UGC notification by making written test a mere qualifier. That would mean viva will carry 100% weightage in making the admission list. It is more than clear that it is the Vice Chancellor’s denial to address the structural discrimination in high viva weightage and not the ‘obligation’ of the UGC notification that has stopped the AC to accept the Nafey committee recommendation.
¨ Undermining Deprivation Points:
The imposition of the UGC notification would act in grossly undermining JNU’s unique deprivation point policy. If the UGC notification is interpreted to mean that the written examination will merely be a qualifier then surely the question comes how deprivation points will be given. In this motivated reading of the UGC circular if deprivation points are given at the level of written test then the points will not be added in preparing the final merit list. If the deprivation points are given after written test then the points will be meaningless in ensuring that students from deprived backgrounds make it to the viva.
In sum, the UGC notification is in reality a “strait-jacket” with rigid examination criteria, admission rules and the criteria for the eligibility of research supervision.
JNU administration, by blanket and forcible imposition of the UGC notification, has severely compromised the university’s autonomy and is working to destroy the unique inclusive features of JNU’s admission process won through struggles by generations of students’ movement in the campus.
The Unexplained Haste
After the so called ‘adoption’ of UGC notification by the AC and EC, the admin was forced by growing opposition to send a circular on 5 January 2017 asking for inputs on the notification by 16 Jan 2017. However, without even waiting for the inputs to arrive, the Director of Admissions sent another farmaan to centres on 11 January 2017, this time virtually ORDERING the centres to IMPLEMENT the UGC Notification and accordingly RECAST (read REDUCE) M.PHIL./PhD. seats for the upcoming admissions and overhaul the admission process. Clearly, this undue haste is to placate the saffron masters whose whole and sole agenda is to commercialise and saffronise higher education in general and target JNU in particular.
Serving the Saffron Agenda: Now SHUT DOWN JNU-Part III?
For past one year, JNU has witnessed unprecedented attacks and crackdowns. Last year, in the month of January, Prof. M Jagadesh Kumar took over as Vice-Chancellor of JNU. Within weeks of his joining, the campus witnessed an unprecedented crisis with Delhi Police being given a free hand to raid the campus, witch-hunt political activists, arrest at will without the VC demanding to even see the evidence or any warrant before allowing such action. The saffron brigade gave the call for “Shut Down JNU” and the new VC was seen dancing to the sanghi tune. This was the phase of Shut Down JNU-1. The VC was welcomed with a befitting resistance by students and teachers which introduced him to the spirit of JNU.
We again witnessed a fresh round of attacks by the JNU admin on students and teachers from the beginning of the last semester: the phase of “Shut Down JNU II”. The JNU administration shamelessly used threatening and intimidating tactics as well as victimizing teachers and delegitimizing JNUTA, who have spoken out against the policies of govt. crackdown on universities. The security guards were instructed to record any political cultural programs, public meetings and academic activities. Flouting every established norm, the JNU administration tried to change the seniority criterion of appointing Chairpersons in the centers. Agreement with the vision of VC instead of the seniority is being established as the criterion to appoint the Chairpersons. In the name of the lack of “vision”, teachers from the deprived sections are being removed from Chairpersons. The highest number of notices ever served in the past year to student activists, including former and current Union office bearers at each instance of protest, including, burning of an effigy of Gaurakshaks and the Gujarat Government, observing May Day among other protests. Najeeb Ahmad, a minority student disappeared from the campus after facing violence from a group of communal lumpens. The VC has shown complete inaction in finding Najeeb. He has given green signal to ABVP lumpens to freely indulge in violence and intimidation by refusing to punish Najeeb’s assaulters even after they have been proven guilty of assaulting and threatening Najeeb in the Proctorial enquiry. Threats and intimidation of student activists and faculty members for protesting at the Administration Block has reached a new height.
JNU admin also understood that, in order to convert JNU campus into an RSS shakha, it is imperative to destroy the structures and policies that make the campus an inclusive and egalitarian space. That is why the most recent round of attacks has been unleashed by the VC, a bid at Shut Down JNU part III. To kill JNU from within, the VC has now imposed the 5th May UGC notification, which will result into massive seat cut, 100% viva weightage and destroy the unique deprivation point of JNU admission policy.
Defend and carry forward the struggles for democratic and socially inclusive campus
The student community in JNU has fought several struggles in JNU to ensure a more inclusive and democratic admission policy. In the early 1990s, the deprivation point system was brought back. More recently, this unique system was expanded. In JNU, we have fought a long battle for ensuring the proper implementation of OBC reservations, and defeated JNU’s illegal “cut-off” criterion for OBC admissions both in the Delhi High Court (7 Sep 2010) and then again in the Supreme Court (18 Aug 2011). We have ensured recognition of Madarsa certificates in JNU.
The BJP-RSS is hell-bent on destroying campuses like JNU, destroying higher education altogether.
- In the 2016-17 Union Budget, a massive 55% fund-cut to the University Grants Commission (UGC) has been announced. At a time when at least 10% of the budget allocation should have been on the crucial education sector, the budget is now a mere 3.7% and is being viciously slashed every year. The effects of these massive fund-cuts are there for all of us to see and experience.
- Just last year, the MHRD dictated UGC’s move to end Non-Net Research Scholarship was resisted and defeated by the massive “Occupy UGC” movement.
- The Draft of the National Education Policy 2016 of the Modi govt clearly shows the government’s plans to kill every possibility of equal standards of education for everyone. In the name of Open school and colleges and vocational/skill training, the government has chalked out a blue print of low standard and curtailed education for students from disadvantaged background. Massive commercialisation is being proposed in the form of Private Public Partnership.
In these dark times, we can’t and must not allow the stooges of the government, the JNU administration, to push through this anti-student, anti-social justice, anti-democratic UGC circular. The collective gains of the student community in the form of deprivation points, reservations and recommendation for reduction in viva weightage cannot be allowed to be washed away. We must ensure that the 142nd AC meeting is reconvened, the unilateral acceptance of the UGC circular is revoked and the 5th May Gazetteer notification is withdrawn by the UGC.
Rebuff JNU VC’s Overenthusiastic Attempts to Impose the 5th May 2016 UGC Notification- the Blueprint for Seat Cut and Social Exclusion!
We Must Fight Back Now, Fight for a Socially Inclusive JNU!!
Bombay HC Grants Bail to the Killers of Mohsin: Shamelessly Citing His Muslim Identity as ‘Provocation’!
Just after the BJP victory in Lok Sabha elections, in June 2014, a young Muslim IT professional Mohsin Sadiq Shaikh was brutally beaten to death on a Pune street by the Hindu Rashtra Sena (HRS) mob wielding hockey sticks and stones. In a case of premeditated communal hate crime, Mohsin was targeted for the markers of his Muslim identity beard, skull cap and Pathani suit as he was on his way back from offering evening prayers at a mosque. After the brutal violence and killing of Mohsin, members of the HRS gang even shamefully exchanged a jeering message on their mobile phones that read pahili wicket padli (the first wicket has fallen) after BJPs victory. Now the Bombay High Court has shamelessly granted bail to three of the 21 arrested in the Mohsin murder case. In her January 12 order, Justice Mridula Bhatkar shockingly observed that the fault of the deceased was that he belonged to another religion. I consider this factor in favour of the applicants/accused. More-over, it appears that in the name of the religion, they (the accused) were provoked and have committed the murder. The bail order in the Mohsin case chillingly reminds us of several such travesties in justice. These judgments are no different from the society issuing moralized suggestions such as appropriate clothing for women to avoid rape and in cases of racist violence and attack on people from the north-east, police forces blaming their smelly food habits as reason enough for provocation! It is in similar justifications like this issued by the judiciary and state machinery, where the very existence of marginality becomes a ‘provocation’ for violence. AISA expresses deep shock and condemnation at the absurd bail order and observation by the Bombay High Court and its utter failure to deliver justice to the victim of minority hate-crime and demands strictest punishment against the HRS culprits. The saffron right-wing has always indulged in a vicious communal propaganda and tried to shape the mainstream political and media discourse against religious minorities with constant mischievous references to love jihad, pink revolution, ‘illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and Pak terrorists.
The shocking observations by the Bombay High Court order has the danger of conferring “legal” sanctity to communal prejudice and violence that is being sought to be normalised in the country. It is high time that we reassert that country must be governed by Constitutional morality, Constitutional rights and Constitutional principles and not by majoritarian prejudice. The Supreme Court must take suo motto cognizance of the shocking Bombay High Court observations and annul the order. In these dark times we must intensify our collective struggles against this grave injustice and resist this communal commonsense.
One Year Since Rohith’s Institutional Murder in HCU
Students against RSS: the Battle for Justice and Equality; Against Discrimination and Victimisation Continues!
Intensify the Agitation for Rohith, for Najeeb!
Defeat the Nexus of RSS-Puppet Administration in Universities!
Demand Rohith Act!
On the coming 17 January, it will be one year since Rohith Vemula’s institutional murder in the HCU. He, along with four more activists of the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA – HCU), was suspended from the University after ABVP (student wing of RSS) filed a complaint against them. Political vendetta and targeting was clear: no less than Smriti Irani, the then MHRD, intervened on the basis of the ABVP’s complaint. Two union ministers (Bandaru Dattatreya and Smriti Irani) instructed the HCU administration to dance to the tunes of ABVP. This resulted in the punishment of five Dalit students, violating all norms of enquiry and justice. Rohith Vemula, who made it to a Central University defeating formidable structural discrimination that Dalits in this country face to access higher education, was pushed to death.
An unprecedented upsurge followed. Students from universities all across the country demanded #JusticeForRohithVemula. We demanded punishment of the HCU VC, Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya for misusing their office to fulfil RSS’ agenda. We demanded that a Rohith Act be passed to make caste based discrimination in educational institutions a punishable offense.
Rather than listening to the demand of a Rohith Act, the then MHRD hit out from the floor of the Parliament to Rohith and his comrades. BJP-RSS-ABVP started a full-fledged campaign to vilify Rohith, denying his Dalit identity and his subsequent victimisation.
Today, students in Indian universities are facing exactly what the RSS-BJP-ABVP want to hide. Today, students in our universities are in a battle against the RSS’s road map of converting universities to prisons where ideas are curtailed, dissent is crushed and struggle for universal right to quality education, equality and freedom of expression is silenced:
- Rohith was pushed to his death in HCU. And Najeeb Ahmad, the JNU student who has been missing since more than two months, was subjected to violence and threats to his life by ABVP goons before he disappeared. Threat, violence, disappearance: this is RSS’s dream project for minorities in India. And pliant University administrations are shamelessly aiding and abetting this project. The JNU administration framed Najeeb himself as an accused, and has only issued token ‘punishments’ to the ABVP goons who assaulted him in full public view. JNU VC has instead served notice to those students who protested against the ABVP, demanding justice for Najeeb.
- Nine students from marginalised sections were suspended by the JNU VC without even any chance of defending themselves being given. The VC who himself violated procedures and forcibly imposed his agenda on the AC meeting suspended these students alleging disruption of the same.
- A Dalit school going student was beaten by his classmates in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. His crime? He scored well in exams which according to casteist norms, Dalits are not supposed to do.
- Five Dalit students and activists of EFLU Hyderabad have been charged with defamation from a faculty member because they complained of caste-based discrimination. Systematic Push Out of students from marginalised sections from universities continue. And now talking about it is deemed ‘defamatory’.
- Eight Dalit students of the BBAU, Lucknow have been rusticated by the puppet administration of the university. These students are Ambedkarite activists who have been a part of the BBAU students’ agitation to defend reservations in the university and against RSS takeover of University spaces.
- Seven students of BHU have been rusticated for sitting in hunger strike demanding 24×7 library facilities in the university. The BHU VC, who takes pride in identifying himself as a RSS sympathiser, has seen a ‘violation of BHU tradition’ in this demand. To convert a central university into RSS’s dream laboratory, the BHU administration imposes atrocious sexist rules on women students. Police action on students and explicit threats by the VC are the new normal.
- UGC has come out with a dangerous notification (5th May, 2016) which instructs universities to allot 100% weightage in viva-voce in entrance exam. If implemented, this would mean denial of admission to students from marginalised backgrounds. Subjective biases based on social prejudices determine viva marking unlike comparatively more objective evaluation in written. JNU VC has recently forcibly imposed this on the admission process. If not resisted, this would be the reality in all our universities.
Wherever students are asserting the idea of a university as a space that rejects caste-based hierarchy and communal division, that defends the right to free speech and critical thinking, that upholds the idea of quality and accessible education for all – they have been attacked by RSS’s agents inside universities. The ABVP has attacked AISA activists and vandalised Pinjra Tod’s programs in DU. They have attacked students remembering Ambedkar on his anniversary in Allahabad University.
These goons have been given full protection and patronage by administrations who are puppets of the RSS. While the RSS is in a war mode against knowledge, rationality, justice and equality inside universities, students all across the country are not ready to leave an inch in their struggle to defend azaadi from casteism, communal violence, sexist rules and witch-hunt of political expressions.
When we are approaching one year of struggle demanding #JusticeforRohith, let us once again rise up in rage to demand a Rohith Act. Let us intensify the agitation against RSS’s takeover of University spaces.
Hold the Kerala Government Accountable for Encounter Killings, use of Black Laws Like the UAPA, Wanton Arrests and Crackdown on Democratic Space!
The way the Kerala police has been involved since last month in encounter killings, arrests and framing of charges on political activists clearly transcends the boundary of merely maintainglaw and order in the state and indicates of a ceratin tactics of intimidation of political opponents to the ruling LDF government in the state.
On Nov 24th two maoist leaders were gunned down in the Karulayi forests in Nilambur, Kerala. The police as usual has come out with the version of self defence and cross fire as an explanation to the encounter killings. In spite of wide range demand of a judicial enquiry into the killings, the Kerala Government is trying to evade impartial judicial probe into the case by ordering a magisterial enquiry which will remain vulnerable to administrative manupulations.
In the aftermath of the killings, Rajeesh Kollakandi, who helped in releasing the body of the assasinated maoist leader, has been suspended from his government job in the technical education department of the state. In addition to it, UAPA cases have been framed on him.
Kamal C. Chavara, a novelist, was arrested under sedition law after the BJP’s youth wing Yuva Morcha had complained to the police against him charging him of insulting the National Anthem based on one of his Facebook posts. The Kerala police acted promptly and had arrested K.C. Chavara.
The first instance of arrest by the police for not standing up during national anthem in film screening came from Kerala when the more than prompt Kerala Police arrested six people who participated in the International Film Festival in Kerala.
A human rights activist Nadir was arrested under UAPA after he went to meet Kamal C Chavara the previous day, although his name does not appear in any FIR. Nadeer has been released after a day’s interrogation. The Kerala Police is trying to create the bogey of maoist link in Nadir’s case. Nadir was picked up by the police as unnamed accused in an FIR where six people have been mentioned under charges of UAPA.
The CPI-M in a statement in the context of K.C. Chavara’s arrest has said that it is against the use of sedition law. But this statement does not suffice to address the issue of intimidation of political voices and crackdown on freedom of expression. The arrests that has been done on the pretext of ‘insulting the national anthem’, even if sedition is not used, indicate towards succumbing to sentiments fanned by the right-wing forces in Kerala. The random use of UAPA and arrests of political activists under UAPA also raises concern over curbing of democratic space and the process of natural justice in Kerala. Black laws like the UAPA were introduced by the Congress Government to legalise unjust state actions on muslims and political activists. These laws are used to subvert the basic principles of natural justice where the burden to prove inncocence lies on the accused in stead of it being otherwise.
Statements by the CPI-M or the SFI that they are against the use of sedition law carry very little weight as long as the state police, working under the command of LDF govt, continue to surrender before rightwing jingoism or is used to intimidate and silence political opinions in Kerala.
STOP the Ominous Trend of State-Backed Fake Encounters and
Extrajudicial Killings in the Name of Fighting ‘Maoism’!!
AISA Statement regarding the Malappuram Killings
AISA expresses deep concern over the gruesome killings of two Maoist” leaders, Devraj and Ajitha, who were gunned down in the Karulayi forests of Nilambur, Malappuram, Kerala last Thursday. There are many disquieting questions about this alleged encounter. No police personnel were injured in the encounter and the victim’s bodies were not shown to the media even after more than 24 hours. Further in the postmortem report, it was revealed that there were around 19 bullet shot wounds in the bodies of the killed “Maoists”, while a Madhyamam report said that both Devaraj and Ajitha were physically unwell and even didn’t have the capacity to run when the police arrived.
A month back, on 24th October, in an uncannily similar way, 39 people (reportedly 28 Maoists and 11 adivasi villagers) were killed in Malkangiri. A Greyhound commando who lost his life in this episode reportedly died of drowning, and another is injured, but there are no other major casualties on the side of the paramilitary forces. This also has raised serious questions and doubts.
The Supreme Court has issued detailed guidelines on encounter killings, mandating mandatory registration of FIRs and investigation by an independent agency in every case of encounter death. We must collectively raise our voice against the menace of extrajudicial killings by different governments, from Malkangiri to Malappuram, in the name of fighting Maoism.
AISA demands that there must be a time-bound Court-monitored judicial probe into Malappuram killings! Such fake encounters and extra-judicial killings are a travesty of the law of the land and are a threat to democracy. The state government and the state machinery should be held accountable, and the perpetrators of the fake encounter must be punished!