JNU VIOLENCE: STUDENT POLITICS
News behind the News|NbN 13 January 2020
The violence on 5 January night at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has become an issue of national debate.

This was not just a night of violence at a premier Indian university. There is more than meets the eye and is perhaps, in the view of many, a trend that has been unfolding over the past few years.

But first to the incident. For hours, goons from outside ran riot in the JNU campus, violently beating up students and teachers, both men and women. Even as the violence was underway, a mob gathered at the main gate of the university, inciting violence against JNU students and heckling and even beating up journalists and civil society activists. All this happened even as the police was present.

The outsiders or goons, in the view of Indian Express are allegedly affiliated to the RSS student-wing ABVP and they were “empowered by the very government that is vested with the power and responsibility to uphold law and order, to act as it did. It did not happen in a day, of course; it has been in the works ever since JNU was seen by the establishment as a rebel outpost. Students and faculty have been branded “anti-nationals”, who need to be punished.” BJP functionaries, including senior ministers have used phrases demonising student leaders as ‘Urban Naxals.’

Delhi Police, which the other day aggressively put down protests at the Jamia Millia Islamia campus, “has been coy to act against the thugs who had a free run in JNU. The vandals have been aided and abetted by the institutions that ought to have cracked down on them in the first place.”

This, says Aakash Joshi, writing in The Indian Express “is the same force that was loading up by the busloads peaceful protestors last month from anti-CAA-NRC demonstrations…….”

A ‘NEW POLITICAL REALITY’ THAT STUDENTS ARE WAKING UPTO

In the view of Moyukh Chatterjee (visiting scholar at Middlebury College and is working on an ethnography of majoritarian state formation in India), the attack on students in JNU “is a desperate attempt to silence the vanguard of a popular protest that is threatening the ruling regime’s ability to rule by consent. One way to understand what led us to the day when it became possible for armed men to brutally assault students and faculty in our universities is to realise that our students have been fighting a bigger war over the past four years.”

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