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After protests over non-veg, Jammu university students face ‘anti-national’ tag

On September 1, a student from Kerala wrote to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan asking him to intervene on their behalf.

Written by Arun Sharma | Jammu | Updated: September 28, 2017 12:28 pm
Earlier, a teachers’ delegation led by the ABVP state president met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, during his visit to the state, complaining about “anti-national activities on the campus”.

Allegations of beef, “anti-national activities”, and “JNU influence” are now roiling another campus, with the ABVP objecting to students from Kerala studying at Central University, Jammu. On September 21, the ABVP tried to prevent performance by a group of 20 students from the state before a visiting delegation, saying it could have “anti-national” elements, till the university gave the go-ahead. Earlier, a teachers’ delegation led by the ABVP state president met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, during his visit to the state, complaining about “anti-national activities on the campus”.

On September 1, a student from Kerala wrote to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan informing him of the “highly volatile situation” and asking him to intervene on their behalf. The university, which formally started functioning in 2011, has nearly 1,360 students, spread over two campuses, at Sainik Colony in Jammu and Bagla in Samba district. The trouble is restricted to the Samba campus, which has three hostels for girls and one for boys, accommodating nearly 300 students. Around 30 are from Kerala.

CU Vice-Chancellor Professor Ashok Aima confirmed that a faculty member had expressed apprehension that students from Kerala might talk about “Lal Salaam” during their September 21 performance. Pointing out that the show contained “nothing objectionable”, Aima says, “It was malicious, false propaganda. I will look into the matter and initiate action.”

But the tension on the campus has been building up for long, starting with denial of non-veg food and Wi-Fi facility, to the recent Gauri Lankesh protests. Students say a majority of them at the university are non-vegetarian. In February, a group of them from Kerala first raised the issue of poor quality of food at the hostel, and the lack of cleanliness and Wi-Fi facility. They also demanded non-vegetarian food twice a week. “We contacted the hostel warden and proctor, but when nothing happened, we went on a hunger strike. The V-C assured us that everything would be taken care of,” a student who didn’t want to be identified says. According to the students, many from Kashmir too wanted non-veg, but were afraid of demanding it, fearing this could be misconstrued.

A student from Kerala says, “While nothing happened after that, reports started circulating in the media and on WhatsApp groups that people from Kerala along with some teachers with Left orientation, ‘in view of their association with JNU’, were organising close-door beef parties. We were accused of links to Rohingyas, Kashmir separatists and a pro-Pakistan think tank.” Pointing out that they have to go outside the campus to have non-veg food, a student says, “We suggested to the authorities that give us fish and eggs if there is an issue with halaal meat.”

Proctor N K Tripathi says they are wary of the issues that could crop up if non-veg food is allowed, including “beef rumours”. “We live in an area predominantly inhabited by ex-servicemen. If they come (drawn by such rumours), how we will protect the students? Police take time to reach a spot.” He raises similar concerns regarding Wi-Fi, adding, “Every day we read about students from Kashmir facing problems in some part of the country… What if anyone uploads some objectionable post?”

The V-C says the presence of different groups on the campus means non-veg food can become a contentious issue, not just about halaal and jhatka but also about a separate mess for vegetarians. “We try to avoid contentious issues which may lead to tension,” Aima says.

Recently, there was a fresh strain on the campus over the murder of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru. After the students held a condolence meeting on the Bagla campus, the authorities summoned all the participants and told them to concentrate on studies.

On September 19, the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) set up a unit in CU. Students say it was the fear of being targeted by the ABVP that drove many of them to the CPM students’ wing. The same evening, Dean, Academic Affairs, Devanand issued a circular saying, “Activities which are not related to academics will not be permitted.” Devanand defends the circular, “Some students were not attending classes and instead of sitting on university grounds.”

However, SFI national general secretary Vikram Singh argues, “Student organisations are not anti-academic. These only strengthen democracy, debate and discussion, which are the essential part of any university. The ABVP… only acted as a puppet of the V-C.” He calls the circular “selective targeting of students”.

Dr Parvinder Singh, the ABVP J&K head, who also teaches at the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Sciences and Technology, Jammu, denies trying to control food habits or protests. “Beef is not an issue, but anti-national activities on the campus are. Convening a condolence meeting and paying homage to Gauri Lankesh are okay, but how can some people link the Sangh Parivar with her murder?” he says.

Last week, when the ABVP raised an objection to the dance by Kerala students, held to welcome a visiting NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Council) team, the students urged the teachers to see the performance for themselves before taking a call. “The ABVP also wanted to sit in, but we said only teachers could watch,” a student says. After watching the dance, the teachers allowed it.

On September 21, ABVP supporters were present when the Kerala group performed. If they planned to protest, it came to nothing. The dance, to the super-hit number Jhimmki Kammal, brought the house down.

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  1. S
    Syed Kiyanoosh
    Sep 29, 2017 at 6:59 pm
    It seems that Beef , Cow is India ' s biggest problem. No Beef , all problems solved. All happy and smiling. Milk and honey all the way. All the tribals, Dalits, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Parsis, majority of the other Hindus are non-vegans. Only a minuscule percentage of Indians are vegans. Still , it's all about Freedom and Freedom only, of fundamental rights of food. The BJP RSS backed goons deserve to be drowned into Indian Ocean. All right thinking parties should rally round forgetting petty politics and interests, and beat them in elections in such a way that they can not return to Politics for thousand years.
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      M Shukla
      Sep 28, 2017 at 11:36 am
      All Indians should take a vow that we will ensure that India becomes independent again in 2019. It's high time ABVP and other assorted sangh goons supported by the present Raj are given kick on the their backsides.
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      1. Rohit Pawar
        Sep 28, 2017 at 10:55 am
        The majority of people in India are non vegetarian then why non veg food is being banned by Saffron goons. If you don't want to eat then don't eat. Who gave you right to rule the lives of other people in India. BTW I am vegetarian.
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          Anil Dharan
          Sep 28, 2017 at 11:33 am
          Enlightened view. I wish other Veggies were also like you.
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          1. S
            Swamy
            Sep 28, 2017 at 11:46 am
            Majority of Indians are Dalits and Tribals still they face oppression, suppression, hatred since centuries.Now we can add all minorities to that list.Today it is Muslims tomorrow for sure it will be Christians,Buddhists and Sikhs(had already happened with Jains earlier).Brahmanwaad (do not mix it with Hinduism) will never allow different ideology to flourish nor will allow any threats to their power and superiority. Are we a banana republic?Justice is handed as per aspirations of masses instead of law.Brahmans of Kerala and Bengal will cherish ll marine animals but will never oppose Saffron's objections, all hand in glove.
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              Balasaheb Pawar
              Sep 28, 2017 at 11:53 am
              The vegetarians are in the minority hence minority interest needs to be protected (remember the Muzzies). Why is veg food objected to by Jihadi Goons ? If you want to eat Non -veg then go out of the campus and gorge yourselves.Who gave you the right to Majoritarianism ? Minority rights to be protected. BTW I am non-vegan
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                Bobby24
                Sep 28, 2017 at 10:59 pm
                by the way, Jammu is majorly vegetarian.
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              2. Yogesh Bhardwaj
                Sep 28, 2017 at 9:15 am
                We understand the bias in reporting and the narrative which is being set up. The heading gives it away.
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                1. V
                  Vishwanath Natarajan
                  Sep 28, 2017 at 10:33 am
                  Correct .. typical leftist tango ..
                  (5)(3)
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                2. R
                  Reddy
                  Sep 28, 2017 at 7:24 am
                  ABVP is ruining Indian Universities. They need to be thrown our of all campuses. This is a crisis for democracy.
                  (18)(6)
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                  1. M
                    mtv
                    Sep 28, 2017 at 9:09 am
                    Wherever Communists have predominance or their party is ruling the state (such as Kerala), Communists (SFI) do the exact thing as ABVP does in North Indian states. So, there is nothing to choose between the two. Both are student wings of fascist parties. Fascist parties should not have any role in a democratic set up other than act as one of the Opposition parties. They are only good as an Opposition party in a democratic set up. Once they are given power, they will be the worst opponents of democracy. You can see this in erstwhile Soviet Union, China, Cuba, North Korea, earlier East European countries... many, many examples. Near home, even in Bengal and Kerala, we have seen this.
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                    1. Dwibhashyam Agasthyeswar
                      Sep 28, 2017 at 9:22 am
                      Stop nonsense
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                        Thomas Joseph
                        Sep 28, 2017 at 10:12 am
                        Mtv: Your comments are without substance, unfortunately
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                          Vishwanath Natarajan
                          Sep 28, 2017 at 10:32 am
                          Thomas Joseph ..Mtv is bang on the dot. Marx had said that religion is the opium of the masses but ended up creating another strain of opium Communism is just another cult and its adherents are just as brainwashed as any religious bigot. The predominating characteristic of any bigot is to see reality only through his own narrative tinted glasses . SFI and ABVP are for all practical purposes the same .. just that their respective cults are different. Atleast ABVP , misguided as it maybe is unambiguously for India. SFI and other commie groups can be unwittingly anti national since they see their loyalties to an imagined worldwide communist movement as greater than that to their own country. Read how Indian communists in 1962 quasi supported the Chinese against India. One of the present day Congress leader who calls himself a "proud communist" actually collected money for the PLA back then ..
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                            Swamy
                            Sep 28, 2017 at 12:00 pm
                            Nothing to do with any ideology.The only reason is saffron's fear of losing their hold , their falsehood being exposed, if other options are available. Why do not Saffron's speak the Truth?They were never part of India's independence more over support the Shrewd British(have you ever heard them speaking against their white bosses). Why does saffron's not protest against killing of billions of Marine life daily?Is there difference in value of life of animals killed? Kerala is one of the best States of Indian union in all spheres of Human development, Bengal had produced best of artist, researchers,Scientists, Rationalists etc.Now look into the "BIMARU" states with their Saffron leanings.Hatred,bloodshed, destruction, enmity, Real Hinduism never to be found.
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                              Bobby24
                              Sep 28, 2017 at 11:03 pm
                              Your comment made sense than most of the others.
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                              Bobby24
                              Sep 28, 2017 at 11:00 pm
                              If you believe in student politics, then you should believe in ABVP too as they are a major power here in Jammu
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                              1. S
                                Syed Kiyanoosh
                                Sep 29, 2017 at 7:05 pm
                                ABVP is a major power , so is LET , ISIS etc in Pakistan. Please send the Peyara Saffron Army and it's followers to fight Pakistan and con-comitant terrorism.
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