At the centre of a political row over a sedition case filed against its students’ union president, the Jawaharlal Nehru University is “actively considering”, among other things, “showcasing a tank” on its premises to “instil nationalism” among students.
The suggestions were made at a meeting of ex-servicemen with JNU Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar on Tuesday. A day later, JNU Registrar Bupinder Zutshi said, “The veterans met the administration yesterday and made a few suggestions. Having an Army memorial to commemorate the memories of soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the country is one such suggestion that the administration is actively considering.”
“We will be looking at various ways to do this. Having a wall of fame with soldiers’ names and photographs, showcasing a military tank or artillery… there are different things we will look at. We are also planning regular interactions between students and defence personnel,” Zutshi said.
The meeting between the V-C and the ex-servicemen took place hours before two JNU students, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, surrendered before police. They were remanded in police custody for three days Wednesday. Earlier, JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested and booked for sedition over raising of alleged anti-national slogans on the campus.
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On Tuesday’s meeting, Lieutenant General (retd) Niranjan Singh Malik said, “Apart from regular interactions (between ex-servicemen and students), there should be a wall of fame where pictures of great heroes are placed, or a symbol through which the great acts of Armymen should be displayed. It will help us instil nationalism among students.”
On Wednesday, at a public meeting organised by the ABVP to pay tribute to Army martyrs, Major General (retd) G D Bakshi also met the JNU administration. Later, speaking on the idea of a nation, he said, “A territory and the people make a nation. India is our body — if you cut Kashmir or Manipur, the body will bleed.”
He also referred US ambassador to India Richard Verma, who had on Monday and Tuesday said that freedom of speech is the hallmark and the central tenet of a democracy. “Challenge Verma to allow celebration of Osama in any university in the US. Disappointed to hear that terrorism is being passed off as free speech,” Bakshi said.