Letter of Solidarity With JNU from Ashoka University

We, the undersigned—who study and work at Ashoka University, as well as the alumni of the Young India Fellowship, in our private capacity—write to voice our solidarity with the students and faculty at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). Recent events at JNU, including the arrest of the JNUSU President over the charge of sedition, as well as other disproportionate measures, amount to a deeply troubling attack on academic and cultural freedom. We strongly condemn the display of brute force by the police, who were given free entry to the campus, including hostels, to question, detain and arrest students and faculty members. We protest the lack of police protection to those students and faculty, and condemn the use of State force against democratic expressions of dissent.

As proponents of liberal education, we believe that societies can only grow when they foster intellectual engagement with fundamental social questions and contemporary political issues through non-violent debate and argumentation. University campuses are, and should be, autonomous spaces where people can peacefully express as well as challenge dissent and opinions. However, the recent spate of events involving many university campuses across the country has posed a serious threat to the sanctity of such spaces as well as the democratic right to dissent and freedom of speech and expression. This includes the turn of events that led to Rohith Vemula’s death at the University of Hyderabad, the withholding of grants by the Ministry of Human Resource Development to Panjab University, and several instances of violent disruption of the screening of the film Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai in campuses across the country.
We condemn the State-backed misuse of the charge of sedition, a colonial era provision in the Indian Penal Code, against the JNUSU President, Kanhaiya Kumar. In the documented absence of any allegedly ‘anti-national’ actions or rhetoric on his part, we see the charge as an attempt to stifle dissent from the dominant order and silence critique of the State. We strongly believe that the provision against sedition, which was repealed in the United Kingdom itself in 2009, has no place in modern democracy. Most immediately, we strongly disapprove of the action of certain lawyers and a Member of the Legislative Assembly who physically attacked JNU students and faculty members as well as journalists outside the Patiala Court House premises on 15th February, 2016.

We fear that the continued State inaction against such instances of violence will foster an environment in which the label “anti-national” or “traitor” can be imposed on every voice of dissent.

We urge that:

  • the JNU campus be restored to normalcy and the police be withdrawn from all parts of the campus.
  • the JNUSU President, Kanhaiya Kumar be released from police custody immediately and all charges be dropped against him.
  • such unconstitutional actions be denounced.
  • we be allowed to nurture our universities as tolerant, democratic spaces where dissent and disagreement is respected, discussions are nurtured, and critical thinkers are born.
Faculty
Ajit MishraBhaskar DuttaMalvika Maheshwari
Alex WatsonDebarati RoyMandakini Dubey
Anisha SharmaDurba ChattarajMaya Saran
Anunaya ChaubeyGilles VerniersNayanjot Lahiri
Anuradha SahaGwendolyn KellyRajendran Narayanan
Aparajita DasguptaJonathan Gil HarrisRatna Menon
Aparna vaidikKranti SaranRavindran Sriramachandran
Arunava SinhaKunal JoshiSaikat Majumdar
Aruni KashyapM A Ahmad KhanSupriya Nayak
Pulapre BalakrishnanMadhavi MenonVaiju naravane
Bharat RamaswamiMalabika SarkarVishes Kothari
Staff
Adil ShahKanika SinghShiv D Sharma
Aniha BrarKarunaShreya Khedia
Anu SinghMeena S. WilsonSudarshana Chanda
Anuja KelkarMercia PrinceSuha Gangopadhyay
Charu SinghPriyanka KumarSukanya Banerjee
Chiranjit mahatoSarah AfrazSushmita Nath
Dr Maaz Bin BilalSaumya VarmaSwarnim Khare
Harshita TripathiSaurav GoswamiTanita Abraham
Ishan de SouzaSayan ChaudhuriZehra
Sushmita SamaddarSurya RamanSandeep Saraswal
Apoorva GuptaAditya SarinChandan Sharma
Alumni
Aafaque R KhanKaavya GuptaRishi Iyengar
AkankshaKande Sruthi NivedithaRitesh Agarwal
Akshay BarikKaustubh KhareRohini Singh
Ananta SethMaansi VermaRupali Kapoor
Antony Arul ValanMalini BoseSai Krishna Kumaraswamy
Anushka SiddiquiMayank SharmaSakshi Ghai
Ashish KumarMrudula NujellaShahzaib Ahmed
AshweethaNeil MaheshwariShaleen Wadhwana
Avni AhujaNeelakshi TewariShashank Mittal
Chaarvi BadaniNikita SaxenaShivangi Pareek
Danish Ahmad MirNina SudShrestha Mullick
Debanshu RoyNipun AroraShweta Subbaraman
Deepika GhoshParushyaSimeen Kaleem
Devleena ChatterjiPavithra SrinivasanSimranpreet Oberoi
Dhaneesh JamesonPoornima SardanaSonal Jain
Dhwani SabeshPragya MukherjeeSubhodeep Jash
Hardika DayalaniPrama NeerajaTanuj Bhojwani
Harsh Mani TripathiRahul SreekumarTaysir Moonim
Harsh SnehanshuRajat NayyarVaishnavi Viraj
Himanshu RanjanRatul ChowdhuryVenkat Prasath
Jahanara Rabia RazaRimjhim RoyVishal Khatri
Chahal GargKshiti GalaHasil Gora
Manasi KhannaPrashant GautamOnaiza Drabu
Aakriti TripathiSanjog Sahu
Students
Aakanksha JadhavKaagni HarekalRanjana Sengupta
Aditi JainKarthik J NReetika Kalita
aditi khareKarthik ShankarRishabh Raghavan
Aditya PrakashKavya Sindhuja ThatavarthiRishika Basu Majumdar
Alishya AlmeidaKc SachinRituparna Nayak
Amalta GuptaKopal AgarwalSabah Merchant
Amrita NandaLaksh BanthiaSahil Grover
Amrita SinghMahima Kohlisai vikas
Angana ChakrabartiMahima SharmaSenthil Kumar Gowri Sankar
Anita RajanMallika SridharShaurya Oberoi
Anjali MenonManasi RaoShivangi Tikekar
Ankita NandaManisha KoppalaShranya Gambhir
Anodya MishraManjari SahayShreya Gautam
Anshula MadhavanMeenal ManolikaShristi Goswami
Anupriya KukrejaMegha DevrajShubhangi Karia
Anurit KantiMohammad Hamza FarooquiShubhvun Anan Chakravarty
Anwesh PatnaikMohit GulatiSidharth Ravi
Apratim DeNainika DineshSimoni Jain
Apuroop SethupathyNayani Kushal GoyalSimrin Sirur
Arjun KrishnanNiharika GotetySneha Visakha
Asawari LuthraNikitaSreeja Basu
Asees PuriNishant KauntiaSri Lakshmi Anumolu
Ashmeen BainsNishtha JaiswalSrikant Mohan
Ashwini AshokkumarNitish SrivastavaSudhamshu Mitra
Ayan TandonPadma Gabriella AradhyaSuhasini Patni
Ayesha PattnaikPalki BhattacharyyaSukanya Mohanty
Cordis PaldanoPhalguni GulianiSuneet Singh Puri
Darshana DevarajanPhurbu DolmaSurjodeb Basu
Devika ChandraPranav GuptaSwagam Dasgupta
Devika PrakashPranav PrakashSwasti Acharya
Dhruv ChakravertiPranay PatilSwetha Soundararajan
Divya GoelPrashant MaheshwaryUday Sarup
Gautham NarayananPrateek PillaiUdeshi Basu
Gia Singh AroraPriya RathodUttara Chaudhuri
Goutam PiduriPriyanka SethiVarina Rasquinha
GouthamPriyanka SinghVarsha Ramachandran
Govind K NedungadiPriyavratVarun Behani
Ira SenPurvai AranyaVatsala Peshawaria
Ishani ChaudharyRadhika SundaresanVedika Lal
Ishanika SharmaRaghav ChakravartyVineet Nandkishore
Jahnavi DuttaRahul HemrajaniVishnu Sarthak Sinha
Janani SekarRahul MagantiVishnupriya Rajgarhia
Jasmine KaurRajashree RWakif Amin Hussain
John KoshyRajesh C SYash Budhwar
Jyothi RavichandranRajkamal Shivani Mangal
Sreya MuthukumarRohan Sablay

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