Days after a pro-Afzal Guru event condemning his hanging in the Parliament attack case was organised at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), there seems to be a sharp disconnect on the campus, with the administration on one side and students and teachers on the other.
Coming out in support of its students, over 250 JNU teachers on Sunday slammed the Vice-Chancellor and the administration for “subverting” the university’s “internal mechanisms.”
Making a veiled attack on the new Vice-Chancellor Jagadesh Kumar, the group of teachers, which included retired faculty, alleged that the decision to allow the Delhi Police to enter the campus and make “random arrests” had put the institution’s autonomy at stake.
“We are of the firm opinion that the matter arising out of an event can be and should have been dealt with through established internal institutional mechanisms. Instead of relying on this, the University Administration decided to give a carte blanche to the police to enter the campus to search different premises and even make random arrests,” said Ajay Patnaik, president of the JNU Teacher’s Association (JNUTA).
Explaining the system of internal mechanism, Dr. Bikramaditya Choudhary, assistant professor at the Centre for the Study of Regional Development, said: “The rule in such cases is to order a Proctorial Enquiry. But that was not done. Even in the probe ordered by the V-C, the due process of issuing show cause notices was not followed. Then there is also a Dean-level enquiry which could have been directed.”
There was simply no explanation why the police was allowed to storm inside the campus, including hostels, do random checks and arrest anybody on arbitrary charges, added some others.
Amid all this, there is also a growing disappointment among the teachers and students with the new V-C. Many said Mr. Jagadesh Kumar had not once interacted with them to discuss the situation.
However, even as they held protests inside the campus, the V-C seemed to be in no mood to compromise with the “academic standards” of the university. On Sunday, his office issued a statement which read: “The function of a university is to provide high quality education to students. As a university, we would like to focus on academics. Maintaining a conducive environment in JNU to achieve our academic goals should be our primary concern. We request everyone to help us focus on our main objective without any interference.”
The teachers also appealed to the public not to “brand” the university “anti-national”.
“Beat us with ideas and not hooliganism,” said Mr. Patnaik. “We condemn the malicious slander campaign unleashed against the JNU and its academic community as a cover for political witch-hunt. We will stand by our students and will not tolerate any attack on the University’s autonomy and democratic culture of debate, dialogue and dissent.”