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Solidarity statement from scholars abroad condemning attack on JNU students and faculty

Students and activists protesting against Sunday night attack at JNU , in Bengaluru on Monday

Students and activists protesting against Sunday night attack at JNU , in Bengaluru on Monday   | Photo Credit: G. P. Sampath Kumar

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The statement garnered 8747 signatories, which included a wide range of scholars, writers, and members of civil society from all over the world

This statement of solidarity was initiated by scholars abroad and in India who were shocked by the events that unfolded on January 5, 2020 on JNU campus. The statement garnered 8747 signatories, which included a wide range of scholars, writers, and members of civil society from all over the world. A selection of the list of signatories is included at the end of the statement below.

Solidarity Statement condemning the attack on the Students and Professors of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi on January 5, 2020

As teachers, researchers, students and concerned individuals in India and abroad, we strongly condemn the attack by masked goons (allegedly belonging to the ABVP) on unarmed JNU students and faculty on the evening of 5 January 2020 with rocks and rods while the police looked on.

Timeline of the attack and context

The JNU students have been on strike over the past few months against a steep fee hike, which will make the university inaccessible to the economically and socially marginalised sections. The unprovoked violence on the protesting students was started by the JNU security staff on January 4, who were ordered to break the strike. Later in the day, some ABVP activists were caught on camera attacking the protesting students. It was against this violence that the JNU Teachers’ Association had given a call for a peace meeting on campus on January 5, 2020. While the meeting was taking place, a group of masked goons from outside the campus started attacking the peacefully assembled students and teachers with rods and bricks. Eyewitnesses interviewed on NDTV suggest that more than 50 armed goons entered the campus around 6:30 pm.

Breakdown of campus security

There was a complete breakdown of campus security on January 5. Masked attackers were allowed to freely walk all across campus and systematically go from from one hostel to another intentionally searching for students involved in the protest against the fee hike. Videos have emerged from specific hostels with broken windows, showing large stones thrown around, and cars vandalized by masked goons. They entered women’s hostels even as campus security stood by silently.

News media is showing horrifying images of the attack on the JNUSU President, Aishe Ghosh — visibly bleeding and seriously injured. Currently, thirty students and thirteen faculty have been injured and are in the trauma centre of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). At least three of them including Ms. Ghosh are reportedly in critical condition. Media shared images of at least one faculty member, Professor Sucharita Sen who was also attacked and suffered head injuries.

Campus lock down and slow response of university administrators

Throughout the shocking attack, the JNU administration was extremely slow to respond even as students reported continued violence. Videos emerged from JNU showing very little visible presence of the police while the attack was underway. The Registrar of JNU issued a statement only at 9 PM, two hours after the attack had begun. The Vice Chancellor at the time of writing this statement has done little to reassure students or faculty of their physical wellbeing.

Why such violence? And why now?

JNU is a premier research university with a long history of inclusive admissions policies and a questioning academic culture. This attack has come twenty-three days after the police violence in Jamia Millia Islamia University, Aligarh Muslim University, and Cotton College against students and those peacefully dissenting against discriminatory policies of the government in India.

Instead of police, this time masked goons are deliberately creating a “culture of fear” on public university campuses. Except for one NDTV reporter, media was not provided access into the university. Yogendra Yadav, President of the Swaraj party, was stopped from entering the campus and was attacked for speaking to the media. Street lights were turned off outside the North Gate. Police inaction at JNU on January 5 enabled the attackers to proceed unhindered.

Public university campuses offer a safe, unarmed space for debate, discussion and learning for students from diverse regional and class backgrounds. They are the lifeblood of democracy. At a time when protests all over the country are emphasizing the need to protect the Indian Constitution and the basic principles of liberty, equality and the right to freedom of speech, the unprecedented attack on JNU students and faculty is unacceptable.

We are forced to conclude that the administration and the police were complicit in facilitating the attack.

  1. We demand that the Registrar Pramod Kumar and the University Vice Chancellor Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar take moral responsibility for their failure to guarantee the safety of their students and faculty. Such a total breakdown in campus safety is unconscionable.
  2. We demand prompt medical aid to those injured.
  3. We demand a fair and impartial inquiry into the events of January 5 that will hold the perpetrators of the attack accountable.

We stand in solidarity with our colleagues, students and faculty at JNU.

A selection of the list of signatories

1. Jinee Lokaneeta, Professor, Drew University

2. Bhavani Raman, Associate Professor, University of Toronto

3. Gopal Guru, Former Professor, JNU, Editor, EPW

4. Arjun Appadurai, Professor, New York University and Hertie School (Berlin)

5. Veena Das, Professor, Johns Hopkins University

6. David Harvey, Distinguished Professor, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York

7. G N Devy, Chairman, People’s Linguistic Survey of India

8. Faisal Devji, Professor of Indian History, University of Oxford

9. Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Distinguished Professor, Syracuse University

10. Joan Scott, Professor Emerita School of Social Science Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

11. Natalie Zemon Davis, Professor of History Emeritus, Princeton University

12. Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, Professor, New York University

13. Chayanika Shah, Member, LABIA - A Queer Feminist LBT Collective Mumbai

14. Geeta Seshu, Joint Founder-Editor, Free Speech Collective

15. Nandita Haksar, Advocate and Writer

16. Romila Thapar, Professor Emerita, Jawaharlal Nehru University

17. Akeel Bilgrami, Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University

18. Alladi Sitaram, Professor (Retd.), Indian Statistical Institute

19. Soni Sori, Activist, Bastar

20. Nirjhari Sinha, Chairperson Jan Sangharsh Manch, Ahmedabad

21. Rajesh Mahapatra Journalist

22. Shabnam Hashmi, Founding Trustee, Anhad

23. Ali Kazimi, Filmmaker and Associate Professor, York University, Canada

24. V. Geetha, Independent Scholar

25. Sugato Bose, Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs, Harvard University

26. Prof. C. Lakshmanan, Dalit Intellectual Collective

27. Saheli- Women's Resource Centre, Autonomous Women's Group

28. Anand Patwardhan, Filmmaker

29. Rinaldo Walcott, Professor, University of Toronto

30. Utsa Patnaik, Professor Emeritus, JNU

31. Dolly Kikon, Faculty. The University of Melbourne

32. Anjali Monteiro, Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

33. Tarun Bhartiya, Raiot Collective

34. Partha Chatterjee, Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University

35. Jodi Dean, Professor, Hobart-William Smith

36. Prabhat Patnaik, Professor Emeritus, JNU.

37. Premesh Lalu, Professor, Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape

38. Jayant Kripalani, Writer Actor

39. Francis Cody, Associate Professor, University of Toronto

40. Ujjwal Kumar Singh, University of Delhi

41. Chinnaiah Jangam, Associate Professor, Carleton University, ON, Canada

42. Rohan D'Souza, Associate Professor, Kyoto University

43. Sangay Mishra, Assistant Professor, Drew University

44. Malavika Kasturi, Department of History, University of Toronto

45. Dr Subir Sinha, SOAS, London

46. Aparna Balachandran, University of Delhi

47. Ruchi Chaturvedi,Senior Lecturer, University of Cape Town

48. Deborah Sutton, Lancaster University

49. Avinash K Jha, SRCC, DU

50. Nandini Bhattacharya, University of Dundee

51. Rochelle Pinto, Fellow, L'Institut d'Études Avancées

52. Mira Kamdar, Author

53. Deepak Mehta, Professor, Ashoka University

54. Sudipta Kaviraj, Professor, Columbia University

55. Prof. T. Dharmaraj Professor and Head, Madurai Kamaraj University

56. Reena Mohan, Filmmaker

57. U. Sabasiva Rao, Desi Disa , Bahul Bahujan voice

58. Shuddhabrata Sengupta Artist, Writer, Raqs Media Collective

59. Zoya Hasan , Professor Emerita, JNU

60. Deba Ranjan, Ganatantrik Adhikar Surakhya Sangthan, Odisha

61. Aienla Ozukum Publishing Director, Aleph Book Company

62. Seema Chishti, Journalist

63. Barbara Harriss-White, Visiting Prof CIS&LS JNU and Wolfson College Oxford University

64. Zillah Eisenstein, Prof Emerita, Ithaca College, NY, USA

65. Caren Kaplan, Professor Emerita, UC Davis

66. Shromona Mandal NYU Asian American Political Activism Coalition

67. Ambarish Rai, National Convener, Right to Education Forum

68. Priyamvada Gopal, University of Cambridge

69. Mary E John, Professor, CWDS

70. Vivek Shanbhag, Writer

71. Tejaswini Niranjana, Professor, Lingnan University Hong Kong

72. Geeta Kapur, Art Critic

73. Neeladri Bhattacharya, Former Professor, CHS, JNU

74. Rajeev Bhargava, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies

75. Mimi Choudhury, Independent publisher

76. Sarbari Sinha, Deputy Editor Frontline

77. Gyan Prakash , Professor, Princeton University

78. Ania Loomba, Professor University of Pennsylvania

79. Chandler Davis, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto

80. J Devika, Professor, Centre for Development Studies.

81. Satya P Mohanty, Professor, Cornell University

82. Keval Arora, Teacher, Delhi University

83. Nityanand Jayaraman, Writer, Social Activist, Chennai

84. Adrija Roychowdhury, Reporter, Hindustan times

85. Aditi Nigam, Journalist

86. Christopher Pinney, Professor UCL and GIAN lecturer at JNU

87. Imran Khan, Artist, Theatre I Entertainment Trust

88. Veena Bakshi, Director, Film Industry

89. Bedabrata Pain, film-maker and ex-NASA scientist

90. Usuf Chikte, Emeritus Professor, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

91. Ajantha Subramanian, Harvard University

92. Farzana Doctor, Author

93. T. Jayaraman, Professor, School of Habitat Studies

94. Tariq islam, Former Elected Member Executive Council and Member Academic Council,

Court, Former Chairman and Professor in Philosophy, AMU, Aligarh

95. R Vijaya Sankar, Editor, Frontline

96. Tapati Guha-Thakurta, Professor in History (retired), Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta

97. Abhijit Roy, Professor, Department of Film Studies, Jadavpur University

98. Paranjoy Guha Thakurta , Journalist, Author, Publisher, Documentary Film-maker and Teacher

99. Mahesh Rangarajan, Professor, Ashoka University

100. Srinath Raghavan, Professor, Ashoka University

101. Shabnam Minwalla, Writer

102. Annie Zaidi, Writer/teacher

103. Satish Deshpande, Professor, Delhi University

104. Purushottam Agrawal, Former Professor, JNU

105. Shilpa Phadke, TISS, Mumbai

106. Ranabir Chakravarti, Retired Professor, Centre for Historical Studies, JNU

107. Ashish Awasthi, Vice president PUCL Lucknow

108. Anita Dube, Artist

109. Priyanka Basu, Curator, The British Library

110. Hugo Gorringe, University of Edinburgh

111. Pratap Raychaudhuri, Professor, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research

112. Poulomi Saha, Professor, UC Berkeley

113. Brian Larkin, Professor, Barnard College, Columbia University

114. Batul Mukhtiar, Filmmaker

115. Pritam Singh, Visiting Scholar Wolfson College University of Oxford and Professor Emeritus Oxford Brookes Business School

116. MP Ahirwar, Professor of Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology, BHU

117. Amrita Chhachhi, Associate Professor International Institute of Social Studies

118. M Madhav Prasad, EFL University

119. Madhavan K. Palat, Professor, Former Dean of the School of Social Sciences, JNU

120. Vivek Dhareshwar, Scholar-in-Residence, Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology

121. K Srilata, Poet and Professor, IIT Madras

122. Veena Naregal, Professor, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi

123. Carin Runciman, Associate Professor, University of Johannesburg

124. Kama Maclean, Professor, University of NSW

125. William Gould, Professor of Indian History, University of Leeds

126. Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee, Poet and writer.

127. Pushpamala N, Artist, Bangalore

128. Jayati Sarkar, Professor, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai, India

129. Constance Penley, Professor, University of California-Santa Barbara

130. Amman Madan, Professor, Azim Premji University

131. MMP SINGH , Editor , Naya Path, General Secretary, Janwadi Lekhak Sangh & former DUTA president

132. Karuna Mantena, Professor of Political Science, Columbia University

133. Shail Mayaram, Professor, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies

134. Tom Tomlinson, Emeritus Professor, SOAS, London

135. Lalit Vachani, Filmmaker, University of Göttingen

136. Surabhi Ranganathan, Senior Lecturer, University of Cambridge

137. David Gordon White , Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara

138. Rahul Mukherji, Professor, South Asia Institute, Heidelberg

139. Uttara Ramaswamy, The Tribune, Chandigarh

140. Thierry Di Costanzo, University of Strasbourg, France

141. Shannon Wells-Lassagne, Professor, Université de Bourgogne-Franche Comté

142. Sarah Bracke, Professor of Sociology, University of Amsterdam

143. Boddu Bhaskar, Senior Journalist , Hyderabad

144. Jane Buckingham, Associate Professor of History, University of Canterbury, NZ

145. David Petts, Associate Professor, Durham University , UK

146. Christian Gutleben, Professor, Université Côte d'Azur, France

147. Smarika Lulz, Humboldt University, Berlin

148. Monique De Mattia-Viviès, Professor, Air Marseille University

149. Françoise Dupeyron-Lafay, Professor, Université Paris est Créteil

150. Bordet Geneviève, Senior Lecturer Université de Paris

151. Benjamin Nolan, UMass, Amherst

152. Chris Moffat, Lecturer, Queen Mary University of London

153. Ian Cook, Professor, Exeter University

154. Marysia Zalewski, Professor, Cardiff University, Wales, UK

155. Henriette Gunkel, Professor, Ruhr-University Bochum

156. Irfan Ahmad, Prof. Max Planck Institute for Religious & Ethnic Diversity, Gottingen, Germany

157. Dr Helen Pritchard, Lecturer, Goldsmiths University of London

158. Dr. Ellen Berry, Editor, Rhizomes:Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge

159. Lars Peter Laamann, Senior Lecturer, SOAS (University of London)

160. Brian Hatcher, Tufts University

161. Rochona Majumdar, Associate Professor, University of Chicago

162. Susan S. Bean, Emerita Senior Curator of Southern Asian Art, Peabody Essex Museum

163. Moulinath Banerjee, Professor of Statistics, University of Michigan

164. Maria Fernandez , Political Scientist, UCM (Madrid) & University of London (Refugee Protection & Forced Migration Studies)

165. Joan Martinez-Alier, Professor, Autonomous University of Barcelona (Catalonia / Spain)

166. Richard Fung Professor Emeritus, OCAD University, Toronto

167. Isabel Huacuja Aonso, Assistant Professor, South Asian History Cal State San Bernardino

168. Patricia Simonson, Associate Professor, Universidad Nacional de Colombi

169. John Greyson, Professor, York University

170. Sergio Villamayor, Ramon y Cajal Fellow, Autonomous University of Barcelona

171. Siobhan Lambert-Hurley, Professor, University of Sheffield

172. Clara Han, Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins University

173. Alexandra Poulain, Professor of Postcolonial Studies, Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris (France)

174. Daniel Morgan, Associate Professor, University of Chicago

175. José-Manuel Barreto, Lecturer, University of the Andes, Bogotá

176. Miles Larmer, Professor of African History, University of Oxford

177. Tyler Williams, Assistant Professor, University of Chicago

178. Shrenik Rao, Editor, The Madras Courier

179. Shivani Tibrewala, Writer | Director, No License Yet

180. Pascale Amiot, Professor, University of Perpignan, France

181. William Mazzarella, Professor, University of Chicago

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