Dozens of activists including some prominent members of civil society have written to President Pranab Mukherjee requesting for his immediate intervention after reports emerged that the JNU Students’ Union leader Kanhaiya Kumar’s health was fast deteriorating.
Kanhaiya has been leading the protest of indefinite strike against the administration’s decision to hand out ‘disproportionate’ punishment by rusticating the students including slapping fines worth thousands of rupees.
On Thursday, Kanhaiya collapsed and reportedly lost his consciousness due to sudden drop in his blood pressure.
His university friend, Umar Khalid wrote, “JNUSU President Com. Kanhaiya in an extremely serious condition. Vomitting for the past few hours and in a semi-unconscious state. He has been rushed to the hospital. Health of the rest of the students also deteriorating fast. Com. Parthipan has been advised by the doctors to discontinue the hunger strike as the medical reports suggest the possibility of him contracting jaundice. But he is still continuing with the hunger strike. All students have lost around 4-6 kgs of weight.”
Umar, who along with Kanhaiya was booked under sedition for the controversial 9 February event on the campus, where anti-nationals slogans were allegedly chanted, accused the administration of dancing to the tunes ‘of RSS-BJP.”
He said, “The authoritarian administration dancing to the tunes of RSS-BJP has crossed all limits of insensitivity. It has been the 8th day of the indefinite hunger strike and day before 170 teachers had also joined in solidarity for a day long strike. But still, the JNU administration remains unmoved. On the orders of their masters in Nagpur.
They have decided to leave no stone unturned to make an example out of us, so that no student involves herself or himself in activism in the future. Our meeting with the VC yesterday is a case in point, where defending the HLEC he ‘advised’ the students to be law abiding citizens. We too have decided to fight this back. The hunger strike is not going to be withdrawn till all punishments are taken back. Onwards to the academic council meeting on 10th May, let us intensify the movement. Let once again thousands pour out on the streets of JNU. Lets us show the sanghi VC his place. It will be a fight to the finish!”
Among the signatories of petition to President Mukherjee is also a former Gujarat IPS officer, Sanjiv Bhatt.
In a dig at the Union HRD Minister, Smriti Irani, Bhatt wrote, “Where is our hyperventilating Aunty National who shed tears and put up a great display of histrionics in Parliament over Rohith Vemula’s suicide? Her ‘children’ in JNU have entered the 9th day of their indefinite hunger protest while she and her lord master have chosen to remain silent.”
Meanwhile, academics from West Bengal have expressed solidarity with the agitating students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), and urged the vice-chancellor to reject the recommendation of the high-level committee and hold a dialogue with the students.
Shri. Pranab Kumar Mukherjee,
His Excellency the President of India,
We, a group of Indian citizens, organized under the banner of PRAHAAR (People’s Resistance Against Hatred And Authoritarian Repression) urge you to mediate in the matter of the ongoing JNU students’ indefinite fast against injustice meted out to them by the JNU Administration.
The disproportionately stringent disciplinary action taken by the JNU Administration against the student leaders is not only unwarranted, but also seems to be inspired by some ulterior motive. We fail to understand as to what inspired the JNU Administration to take disproportionally stringent action against such bright and promising students, especially when most of the so-called misdemeanors are also the subject matter of ongoing investigations/court proceedings that are currently sub judice.
As you are well aware, of late, several institutions of higher learning have been the target of Machiavellian intrigues and political machinations.
In its eagerness and zeal to suppress the voices of well-informed dissent, the Government of the day seems to have turned against its own youth. Since the last two years, democratic space has been shrinking at an alarming rate and the country is finding itself in the clutches of bigotry, extreme intolerance and unprecedented authoritarian repression. Universities are meant to encourage freethinking and churning out of new ideas. Fearless critique of the old and established ideas forms the bedrock of any aspiring egalitarian social order. Freedom of thought and expression are inalienable prerequisites for germination of new ideas. It is therefore a great tragedy that universities that took pride in their liberalism have been chosen as prime targets for suppression of the freedoms guaranteed by our constitution.
Sir, we urge you to kindly use your good offices to intervene in the JNU imbroglio and ensure that better sense prevails. The bright youngsters studying at JNU are the future of this country. They are the torchbearers of our collective hope. The least we can, and must do, is to ensure that such promising youngsters are not made to bear the brunt of vindictive political hatred and authoritarian repression.
Our hopes rest on proactive and affirmative action from your end.
With warmest regards and great hope…
Prof. Krishna Garg
Shweta Sanjiv Bhatt
Hari Krishna Prahlad
Yazdy Rusi Palia
Hari Krishna Prahlad