Students are today rising on their own, be it here or in France. This is the opportunity to focus on our real issues: fee hikes, employment, research funds being cut, caste and gender discrimination. As union members, we have a responsibility to steer these movements, or be left behind by them. The RSS will lose no chance to twist such movements. IIT Kharagpur students protested against the fee hike, and immediately, Giriraj Singh said: `Nine out of ten IIT students eat beef.' They defame a university and then use that to cut its funds.''
JNUSU vice president Shehla Rashid was in town to address a public meeting along with union president Kanhaiya Kumar and other student leaders, just one in a series of meetings across the country to which these students have been invited.
Shehla admits to being overwhelmed by the response the JNU incident generated all over. "Maybe this is because what happened in JNU resonated with the repression all over, where the moment you criticise the government, you are labelled anti-national. I got a call from an RSS member saying that the JNU events were an eye-opener for him; that after he heard Kanhaiya's, Umar Khalid's and my speeches, he left the RSS, and he was asking his RSS friends to hear them too.''
"Even in JNU, apolitical students were initially shocked by the turn of events, but they soon came out in support of us. Our politics are transparent, they know who we are. Till then, they would dismiss our talk about saffronisation of education as conspiracy theories. Suddenly, they realised it was true." Shehla, a Kashmiri, refused to talk about herself, but after much prodding, admitted that her identity had been targeted in the recent events.
"I don't want to say anything about the Kashmir issue. I've been brought up in such a censored, violent environment, and my voice has never been heard. Indian and Pakistani diplomats meet in five star hotels to decide Kashmir's future, but where's the Kashmiri voice in all this? Has there ever been a process of open debate with us on this issue? Has our voice been taken seriously? Why then should I take a position in this atmosphere?" Interestingly, when she was voted to the JNUSU, most students didn't know she was a Kashmiri.
"In Kashmir, I've seen India as an oppressor. But in JNU, I saw a different face of Indians - caring and warm. And this is the university the government calls anti-national!" Shehla said there had always been differences between Kashmiris and non-Kashmiris at the NIT in Srinagar, but the police had never entered the campus until now."This is the BJP government's policy -- to destroy the autonomy of universities, appoint RSS puppets as vicechancellors who will follow orders, and militarise these centres, which are nonconformist by nature."
The series of events that took place in JNU had one outcome - the decimation of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) on the campus. "They've been exposed as goons who can only use the police to target their opponents. They've filed an FIR against one of the best professors, Nivedita Menon, whose classes are always packed to capacity. They don't have the capacity to debate," Shehla said. Finally, being an MPhil student at the Centre for Law and Governance in JNU, does she get time to study? "Yesterday, I presented my synopsis. I am carrying a book here that I have to finish reviewing. In JNU, we bring real life experiences to our studies, that's why it's the best," Shehla concluded.
Source: Mumbai Mirror -- By Jyoti Punwani,