Renowned intellectuals, scholars compare police action in JNU to ‘dark days of emergency’


Eminent scholars and intellectuals have condemned the ‘high-handed police action’ in Jawaharlal Nehru University.

In two separate press statements over a dozen intellectuals of repute, who are also the JNU alumni have likened the police action on the campus to the ‘dark days of emergency.’

The strongly worded statement signed by D.P. Tripathi (Ex. President JNUSU arrested during the emergency), Sohail Hashmi, Anil Chaudhary, Ramesh Dixit, Ish Mishra, N.D. Jayaprakash, ProbirPurkayastha, said, “This is reminiscent of the dark days of the emergency when the state had swooped down on the campus and had arrested many on false and trumped-up charges.

“While we hold no brief for those who raised objectionable slogans, the arrested students have been charged with anti-national activities, precisely the charges on which we were also arrested during the draconian emergency.”

These intellectuals urged ‘the democratic forces and the entire community of students from institutes of higher learning from across the country’ to stand together and resist these ‘continuing attacks on education and the spaces for debate and discussion.’

They said, “Coming in the wake of the dastardly conspiracy of connivance and blatant discrimination that forced Rohit Vemula to take his own life, the storming of the hostels and the arrest of the president of JNUSU are signs of the imposition of an undeclared emergency that need to be opposed, confronted and defeated.”

Meanwhile, a group of former professors of JNU also issued a separate statement expressed their shock over the arrest of the student union president’s arrest on sedition charges on Friday.

They said, “We the undersigned who have taught at the Jawaharlal Nehru University for long and have served as Deans of its various Schools at different times are shocked to hear that the President of the Students’ Union has been arrested on charges of sedition. As he belongs to the All India Students’ Federation, his views and political associations are well-known, and to accuse him of sedition is beyond the bounds of credibility.”

Among the intellectuals, who signed this statement are K.N. Panikkar, C.P. Bhambri, Anil Bhatti, UtsaPatnaik,  PrabhatPatnaik, Zoya Hasan,  Anjan Mukherji, Mridula Mukherjee and Aditya Mukherjee.

They said, “The only previous occasion when the President of the JNUSU had been arrested was during the Emergency of 1975-77, and the present situation on the campus brings back memories of the Emergency days. We urge the Union government to take immediate steps to prevent the intimidation of students and to ensure that the normal functioning of the University is not disrupted in any way.”

The JNU campus has been facing unrest over the last few days since the ABVP supporters kicked off their protests against the alleged screening of a film on Afzal Guru, one of the convicts in the parliament attack.

The police’s action took place after the Home Minister Rajnath Singh and several of his cabinet colleagues indicated that ‘anti-national’ activities will not be tolerated by his government at the centre.