Socialist Party (India) and Lokayat Condemn the Assault on Our Educational Institutions by the BJP–RSS

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Socialist Party (India) and Lokayat demand the immediate release of JNU Students Union President Kanhaiya Kumar who was arrested on false charges of raising anti-India slogans, and charged with sedition. We demand that this false charge be immediately withdrawn.

We also strongly condemn the attacks on him by the RSS/ BJP goons at the Patiala House courts. Several other students, faculty members, journalists and advocates were also injured in the assault repeated for the second time within the court premises, despite specific Supreme Court orders to ensure security for Kanhaiya Kumar and restricting entry of outsiders inside the court premises. These hooligans even tried to manhandle a panel of senior lawyers sent by the Supreme Court to investigate the matter. The Delhi police remained a silent spectator to this complete breakdown of law and order, going to the extent of ignoring Supreme Court orders. Instead of performing its Constitutional duties, the Delhi police was obviously following orders of the BJP Home Minister. All this indicates the extent to which the country’s law and order machinery has become a complete pawn in the hands of the fascist forces! The scant respect the BJP–RSS have for democratic norms and judiciary is obvious from the fact that following the violence in the Patiala House court, the lawyer goons who indulged in this violence are being openly felicitated, instead of being arrested and their licenses cancelled.

The arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar, and the permission given by the newly appointed Vice Chancellor of JNU to the police to conduct raids on the JNU campus without informing the Deans, are only the latest incidents in a series of attacks being made by the BJP–RSS on our campuses to impose their regressive ideology and stifle the voices of those who disagree with their politics. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has openly defended the police action in JNU, and asserted that he has evidence against Kanhaiya Kumar for raising anti-national slogans, even though it is now increasingly becoming obvious that the evidence they have is all fabricated. Some time ago, the Union Minster of State for Labour and Employment, Mr. Bandaru Dattatreya, had raised the same bogey of ‘anti national’ activities against an Ambedkarite group of Dalit students at the behest of the ABVP and sought action from HRD Minister Smriti Irani against them. His intervention led to the suspension of Dalit students and was followed by the suicide of one of them: Rohith Vemula. Earlier, the MHRD had pressurised IIT Chennai to impose a ban on an independent student group on its campus, Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC), alleging that it was trying to “create hatred among students”; this, when the IIT Chennai has several right-wing groups active on the campus, in contrast to which APSC had been organsing intellectual programs to promote rationalist and scientific thinking on the campus. However, a countrywide furore forced the authorities to backdown and withdraw the ban. The BJP has also been foisting persons with Hindutva leanings as heads of India’s leading academic institutions, even if they are ill-qualified for the post. Thus, it has appointed Gajendra Chauhan, a B-grade actor with no work to show any kind of inclination for art and aesthetics, as head of the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India, and G.C. Tripathi, a RSS functionary, as Vice Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University. G.C. Tripathi recently terminated the contract of Dr. Sandeep Pandey as a visiting professor, alleging that he was indulging in ‘anti-national’ activities. An amazing charge, considering that Dr. Pandey is not only a highly qualified academic with a PhD from University of Berkeley, he is also a well-known Gandhian Socialist activist who has been associated with several grassroots movements which earned him the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay award in 2002! But then for the RSS, he was a thorn in their attempts to saffronise BHU, and so he was unceremoniously dismissed.

The RSS does not believe in democracy, secularism and socialism—all pillars of the Indian Constitution. The founders of the RSS were admirers of Mussolini and Hitler. The RSS critiqued the Constitution when it was drafted, lamenting that India’s Constitution makers had ignored the Manusmriti. It has always wanted to transform India into a Hindu nation, and its fraternal wings have been openly eugolising Nathuram Godse. Now, with the BJP in power at the Centre, it has launched a vicious offensive to suppress progressive and rationalist thinking and forcibly impose its regressive ideology on the country and especially our educational institutions.

These attacks by the Modi-led BJP government are meant to silence dissent or any views opposed to its own in educational institutions. We on behalf of Socialist Party (India) and Lokayat assert that the people of India will not allow fundamentalist, anti-democratic and fascist forces to succeed in their designs. We call upon all progressive forces to join hands to protect our universities from assault by Hindutva forces and foil their designs to impose their regressive ideology on them.