JNUSU, in Kanhaiya’s absence: Shehla holds the fort with Rama, Saurabh charts his own path

Over the last two weeks, the campus has seen constant protests and programmes, both in favour of and against students arrested. Here is the lowdown on the impact of the unfolding events on the university.

Written by Aranya Shankar , Shikha Sharma | New Delhi | Updated: February 29, 2016 7:17 am
jnu, jnu protests, jnu news, JNU, Afzal Guru, Afzal Guru protest, sedition, kanhaiya kumar, anti-India slogans, student politics JNU, JNU issue, JNU case, jnu latest news, india news, delhi news, india news, indian express Shehla Rashid Shora, the acting president of JNU Students’ Union at present, wants president Kanhaiya Kumar back to lead the movement. (Express Photo: Praveen Khanna)

In the days following JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar’s arrest on charges of sedition, other leaders of the student body, barring Saurabh Sharma, the joint secretary from ABVP, went underground. JNUSU councillors from various schools took over and coordinated programmes on campus. Soon after, however, JNUSU vice president Shehla Rashid Shora re-emerged and took over as the acting president.

Shora is supported in part by JNUSU general secretary Rama Naga, who also faces sedition charge. There is no link between them and Sharma, who has been leading the movement for the arrest of those who “raised anti-India slogans”.

“I am the acting president at present, but I’d rather have our president back. I want him to come back and lead the movement. We’re worried about his safety,” says Shora, an MPhil student at the Centre of Law and Governance. Shora, a Kashmiri, had earlier studied computer engineering from NIT, Srinagar, and political leadership from IIM Bangalore. She says she has been “overburdened” since the beginning of the Occupy UGC movement, but this time around, the feeling of being overburdened is accompanied by “gloom”. “I was in charge of drafting press statements then, and even now I have been writing my own press releases. The only thing is that then we were not gloomy. Right now, we are being terrorised and hounded, but my strength comes from seeing the mobilisation of common students.”

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She says the biggest change is the unpredictability. “Earlier, we had time to plan events and decide whom to call. Now everything has to be done according to how events are unfolding. But years of training in the Left movement has equipped me..,” she says, adding that one of the positives is that people are contacting her themselves, saying they would like to address students. She got some support from Naga, who reappeared on campus last Sunday. The two have been working together to organise functions. Naga says, “We usually try and plan a day’s events a night in advance, but many times it doesn’t work like that. When we get requests from people to speak, we schedule the time so as to not have it clash with others.” He says, situation has changed since Kanhaiya’s arrest and with sedition charges being pinned on him. “Earlier, we used to put out JNUSU pamphlets regularly on several issues. Now, it is becoming very difficult. Since this incident happened, we have barely been able to bring out any pamphlets.”

On the other side, Sharma says “nothing is discussed with him”. “JNUSU ke naam pe jo poster aate hain, usme mera naam hota hi nahi hai (My name is not there on JNUSU posters that come in). They don’t discuss anything with me. Nobody takes me into confidence. I am an elected member, but within the organisation, I am treated like an untouchable, a Dalit. So I’m doing things on my own, with whatever support I can get from my organisation.” Sharma cites an example of a council meeting he called to pass resolutions related to the February 9 incident. None of the office-bearers turned up. Sharma says he was deliberately ignored.

Shora, however, says it is Sharma who has always worked independently. “You will never see a poster which says AISF & JNUSU or AISA & JNUSU, but Saurabh brings out posters by ABVP& JNUSU. He works independently without keeping us in the loop. During the Occupy UGC movement, he went and met the MHRD without telling us.”

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  1. R
    Feb 29, 2016 at 8:05 am
    When does she get time to do her M.Phil requirements? Where does she get funds for asking posters - from press reports, it appears they are using computer science department facilities- do they know that using department facilities and stationary for extra-curricular activities is corruption?
    1. A
      Anand Nair
      Feb 29, 2016 at 4:44 am
      make afza guru hanging,kashmir to kerala separation,maoism and jihadist agenda as part of the syllabus in JNU....it suits you see...
      1. K
        Feb 29, 2016 at 11:09 am
        Way to go Shehla ma'am..I am a poor Hindu and i am with you. Infact all poor Indians are with you all. We know you people are being used as an example to silence dissent. I know how hard it must have been for you to reach to JNU being a women, poor, Muslim and a Kashmiri. I admire your conviction. God bless you. Keep up the good work ahead.
        1. D
          Dr B
          Feb 29, 2016 at 5:30 am
          JNUSU is a terrorist organisation backed by naxalist, hurriet and other anti national elements
          1. D
            Feb 29, 2016 at 11:14 am
            And educated yourself on all this ... clearly you don't know a thing about any of this except what your bigoted masters tell you. We study these things closely and from evidence, and you don't - and that's why there's such a difference in the quality of our responses.
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