#HandsOffJNU: Solidarity Letter from Univ of Cape Town

In solidarity with comrades at JNU

The University of Cape Town Left Students’ Forum (UCTLSF) unreservedly condemns the arrest of the president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU), Mr Kanhaiya Kumar, alongside other activists by the Delhi police.

We view the charge of sedition and conspiracy slapped on them following a protest meeting on campus over the capital punishment handed down to Afzal Guru who was accused of attacking the Indian parliament as nothing more than sheer anti-democratic muzzling of dissent.

The arrest of Mr. Kumar and the other activists was reportedly accompanied by a raid on campus including male police officers in female hostels – a clear indication of how serious the nativist Hindu right-wing BJP regime is taking the protection of what it unceasingly refer to as ‘’our Indian women’’. The actions of the Police and the BJP regime must be seen as the continuation of a determined attempt to break the back of a vibrant left democratic ethos at JNU. Anyone who has been to JNU cannot fail to respect the humanism and internationalism that dominates that campus. The culture of open debate and critical enquiry threatens communalist nativists whose entire political project is based on unquestioned allegiance in the creation of a backward-looking polity. JNU can’t be a better enemy for carriers of such tendencies.
For us on South African campuses and society, what is happening in India is not experientially distant. It speaks to what we are going through since the campus uprisings began last year. At the beginning of ‪#‎FeesMustFall‬ campaign some of our arrested comrades were about to be charged with treason. Only sustained public uproar forced the state to retreat. The fight against neoliberal dictatorship is constantly met by high-handedness in order to narrow the space for public engagement in furtherance of the hostility to public engagement in public life.

It is instructive to note that Mr. Kumar and thousands of students were at the vanguard of an ongoing opposition to the commodification of education in India via the global neoliberal doctrine of shrinkage of grants to students and universities.

The UCTLSF calls for the immediate release of the JNUSU president and all arrested students. We further call for the stoppage of the witch hunt of students, academics and activists gallantly fighting the right-wing BJP mob.


Courtesy: UCT Left Students Forum

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