Delhi

It breaks my heart to see JNU go down this way: Prof. Sucharita Sen

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Professor Sucharita Sen recalls how masked attackers barged into campus and unleashed violence on a ‘peace meeting’

Nursing her head injury while sitting at her friend’s house in south Delhi on Tuesday, Professor Sucharita Sen, who has become one of the faces of the violent attack that took place inside Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on January 5, said that the “regime (JNU administration) had completely disconnected with the students and teachers”.

“For the first time, there is a regime (JNU administration and Vice-Chancellor) which has no relationship with the students and teachers. I do not think that the V-C, today, can turn around and say that these are my students and my teachers. It breaks my heart to see JNU going down this way,” she said, adding that there have been V-Cs with whom teachers and students have disagreed and dissented, but there was never a lack of communication.

No security

Recalling the day of the attack, Ms. Sen said she noticed something unusual — the absence of security from the peace meeting on Sunday. The professor said that whenever there has been a call for any gathering, there are security officials around, but on Sunday “I did not see any, which was strange”.

Due to scuffles on campus over the past few days, the JNU Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) had called for a peace meeting on Sunday evening where they advised students to not indulge in violence. While the meeting was under way, a student came and informed Ms. Sen that a large group of people wearing masks and carrying sticks had entered the campus from the main gate and was coming towards Sabarmati T-Point where the meeting was taking place.

Ms. Sen’s colleague Amit Thorat then took his bicycle and went to check. A while later, he came back running and told them that he had been thrashed by the mob and had to leave his bicycle behind. “We decided to form a human chain... the women came forward thinking that the group would not attack women. We had thought that group would show some respect for teachers. But I now realise that this thought process does not apply to them because they did not want to scare anyone... the attack was murderous”.

As the violence ensued, Ms. Sen was attacked with a stone that she said was about half the size of a brick.

A student on a two-wheeler and a colleague came to her assistance and tried to get her to a hospital but they were stopped at the university’s main gate.

“There were police on one side and a very aggressive group on the other. I was unable to register much but the student I was with kept arguing with the aggressive group to let us leave but we were not allowed to do so. The police did not intervene and kept watching. This is not the kind of police I want my country to have. They didn’t even facilitate the movement,” she said.

Ms. Sen was then taken to the health centre on campus and was later shifted to a hospital in her blood-soaked clothes.

The professor came to the university as a Master’s student in 1984 and started teaching in 1997.

“JNU taught me what it means to be an Indian as the university is a microcosm of India with people from varying backgrounds. It teaches me and I am sure others too that there is no one way of living, there are 100 valid ways,” she said.

She admitted that the university has been changing in significant ways and that the democratic structure of the institution was crumbling.

The kind of violence seen on Sunday was unthinkable, she said, adding: “Three years ago, we didn’t even know ‘V’ of violence. There were strikes, dissent and protests but no violence. I’ll forgive them for thrashing me but I’ll never forgive them for turning my university – a safe space – into a space of terror”.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 7:32:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/it-breaks-my-heart-to-see-jnu-go-down-this-way/article30507508.ece

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