Arun Jaitley’s full speech in RS on JNU and Rohith Vemula suicide

Arun Jaitley’s full speech in RS on JNU and Rohith Vemula suicide

If some student belonging to a weaker or deprived section of society suffers a mental distress, that issue has to be squarely addressed.

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Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. (Express photo)

Arun Jaitley spoke on situation arising in central institutions of higer education with specific reference to  in JNU and University of Hyderabad.

Sir, I must confess that initially, when this debate started, I had no intention of intervening or speaking in this debate. My colleague, the HRD Minister, Mrs. Smriti Irani, would reply to the debate at the end. But, after hearing two very distinguished Members of this House, Mr. Sitaram Yechury and the Leader of the Opposition, I think this debate, which has been taking place, is somewhere missing or side-tracking the real issue.

Should we have universities where there is openness, there is freedom, there is scope for academic excellence? Of course, we must have that. Should we allow different ideas to clash and be created and further mature in universities? Of course, we must do that. Can there ever be an argument in a democracy like ours that there must be only one ideology or only one idea, which must emerge? Obviously, not.

And, therefore, let us set this debate at rest that neither the National Democratic Alliance, nor the BJP, nor this Government, ever subscribes to this philosophy that only one idea must mature and grow in universities. We are entitled to be criticized. I have absolutely no difficulty with that. If some student belonging to a weaker or deprived section of society suffers a mental distress, that issue has to be squarely addressed and we can all speak in the same language, because humanity demands that our concern must be the same.


But the issue — and I regret to say that — which actually is the core issue, that squarely relates not to the amount of academic licence which is available in universities; it must be; we can be a little more gracious and allow some more scope for a debate; we also have in universities youngsters doing many things and as they grow and mature, they realize that probably this was not the ideal behaviour at that time, but that is a licence the society allows. Some amount of radical romancing can also take place in academic institutions.

But the core question is, and I regret that even Azad sahib has dealt with it in only one casual sentence: Are we going to give respectability to those whose primary ideology is that they want to break this country? After all, what has happened in the case of two persons alleged to be involved in terrorist actions and convicted by the highest court? You had the Bombay case, of 12th March, 1993. Our fairness of the system was that not only did the accused get a fair trial, but also he got at least, several rounds of appeal, review, corrective petitions before the Supreme Court. He even got the facility of midnight-hearings, which many of us would not have got. So, the system went out of the way to accommodate a person, against whom a grave charge was that he had blasted the city of Bombay and killed hundreds of people. Can anybody say that his martyrdom should be celebrated? …(Interruptions)…

Sir, let us be very clear about the kind of functions, which were organized in Hyderabad and also in JNU. What was the function eventually? What was the programme in Jawaharlal Nehru University? A circular is taken out. Two of our very distinguished Members, Yechury ji and Shri D.P. Tripathi, had been former Presidents of the students’ unions. They are more familiar with that university than I am. No doubt, it has thrown up many scholars. It should evolve as an institution of excellence. Nobody wants to campaign against such a campus. A pamphlet is taken out. The Congress have a history of never having supported the fringe. You are a mainstream party. You have ruled this country more than any other political party. How was this meeting called? I am not getting into disputed tapes and all this. Here is a group of people who call for this cultural programme on the 9th February. The pamphlet and the poster are titled, ‘A Country Without a Post Office.’
No, no, at least, our conscience, Sitaram ji, can react differently to this कि इस देश की यह हालत कर दो कि इसका अता-पता न रहे। ‘A Country Without a Post Office’ और ‘A Country Without a Post Office’ का जो pamphlet निकलता है, इसको कोई डिस्‍प्‍यूट नहीं कर रहा है, यह दीवारों पर चिपकाया जाता है। ‘A Country Without a Post Office’ उसकी भाषा यह है कि judicial killing of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhatt. 6-6, 8-8 rounds सुप्रीम कोर्ट के सामने मिले।
Please allow me to complete. We didn’t interrupt you Sitaram ji. So, let us be fair in the debate. I regret to say that I read a statement today where my very distinguished former colleague actually adding respectability to this charge of judicial killing that the judges decided wrongly to execute him. People belonging to mainstream don’t make such statements. ‘A Cultural Evening to Protest against What is the History of Forcible Occupation of Jammu & Kashmir’, the circular says this. We can censor the whole debate, ignore the real facts and then say academic freedom is in peril. No academic freedom will ever be in peril in this country. Now, on this, a pamphlet is circulated justifying this and that pamphlet, I regret, is more against the Government which the UPA led, which the Congress historically led. The kind of language which is used, ‘Kashmir did not belong to Nehru, nor does it belong to Manmohans and Modis in recent times, who keep flaunting this ‘inalienable crown’ to this whole world, they consciously invisible as to how the occupation of territory has taken place through might and brutal force…’ Then it speaks about the right of self- determination. Then, it speaks about, ‘Today in Tihar Jail two graves lie in desolation — Maqbool Bhatt and Afzal Guru.’ This is the meeting of 9th. When the University realizes that it can’t be held.

Sir, I am conscious of the rule of procedure that when a case is pending in court, we don’t argue because we may create a prejudice against the accused. And, therefore, I do believe that every student including those whose names are there, the names of the people here in this circular, each one of them will have a fair trial and I don’t want to prejudice their trial also by naming them. Two of them have been arrested. The Police is looking for some others. They all belong to an Ultra-Left philosophy. Mr. Raja, if you want evidence against the name that you took, I can give it but it will unnecessarily prejudice his fair trial, which is not my intention. Notwithstanding the ban, this function is held. Some other people also come. बाहर से आते हैं नकाब पहनकर और नकाब पहनकर जब आते हैं और एक अल्‍ट्रा-लेफ्ट माओइस्‍ट और एक सेपरेटिस्‍ट और यह कोई दस-बीस फ्रिंज नहीं था, यह संख्‍या सैकडों में बन गई और नारे क्‍या लगे, ‘’कश्‍मीर की आजादी तक भारत की बरबादी तक जंग चलेगी, जंग चलेगी’’। ‘भारत के टुकड़े-टुकड़े इंशाअल्‍लाह, इशांअल्‍लाह।” The pamphlets which they have circulated, which nobody is denying, just bear a complete evidence. What is the Police supposed to do? Whether the person about whom Shri Raja has mentioned, wrongly went there; his intention was different, that is all for investigation to come out. I keep his case out. He is entitled to a fair trial. Of course, what happened in the Patiala House is condemnable. But vandalism is condemnable and sedition is free speech! Nobody can subscribe to this ideology and least of all should ever the Congress Party subscribe to it. Of course, vandalism should be condemned. The accused are entitled to a fair trial. Nobody should hold demonstrations in courts. But, at the same time, what is the factual matrix? In one university, it is the alleged martyrdom of Yakub Memon, and in the other university, it is the martyrdom day of Afzal Guru. और येचुरी साहब, अफज़ल गुरु किस चीज का प्रतिनिधित्‍व करता था, हम सब जानते हैं। हम मनुवाद, ब्राह्मणवाद और पूंजीवाद के खिलाफ संघर्ष का प्रतिनिधि नहीं था। अफजल गुरु के शहादत के दिन हम मनुवाद और पूंजीवाद के खिलाफ नारे लगाए और इसलिए आज याकूब मेमन का कार्यक्रम करें और डॉ. अम्‍बेडकर का फोटो लगा दें, उससे वह कोई माओवादी, अम्‍बेडकरवादी नहीं बन जाएगा। आप अगर अम्‍बेडकर साहब के विचार इन विषयों पर जानना चाहते हैं, तो Let us just see what Dr. Ambedkar has to say. उनके जितने भाषण हुए शायद सबसे प्रभावी भाषण था जो 25 नवम्‍बर, 1949 को उन्‍होंने दिया। Each one of his interventions is in golden words. 26 तारीख को संविधान स्‍वीकार हुआ और 25 को तो पूरा संविधान तैयार हो गया था तो he moved the motion. We remember his speech only for… (Interruptions)… Yes, you quoted it — till political democracy becomes social democracy, an economic equality, egalitarianism, etc. Yes, he said that. But he also said two other things in that speech. Now let me first of all concede, and I am not doing it only for this because we have all studied history, that in the Communist Party of 1949 and the Communist Party of 2016, there is a sea change in the evolution. In 1949, you were a part of the Telangana struggle. Things have evolved since then. But Dr. Ambedkar was speaking in 1949. So what he said in 1949 about the Communists, probably among the Maoists who take that attitude, and amongst other radicals, that still holds good. तो इसिलए कोई अलगाववाद की बात करे और उनका नाम ले ले।

When he framed the Constitution and gave it, — this was in the 1949 context — he said, “The condemnation of the Constitution largely comes from two quarters – the Communist Party and the Socialist Party. Why do they condemn the Constitution? Is it because it is really a bad Constitution? I venture to say, ‘no’. The Communist Party wants a Constitution based upon the principle of Dictatorship of the Proletariat. They condemn the Constitution because it is based upon Parliamentary democracy. The Socialists want two things. The first thing that they want is that if they come to power, the Constitution must give them the freedom to nationalize or socialize the private property without payment of compensation. The second thing that they want is that the Fundamental Rights mentioned in the Constitution — and this is important — must be absolute and without any limitations so that if their party fails to come to power, they would have the unfettered freedom not merely to criticize but also to overthrow the State. These are their main grounds on which the Constitution is being condemned.” Now, let us forget 1949. I know for a fact that the CPM and CPI of today, as mainstream Communist Parties, are very much a part of the Parliamentary democracy as we are. I am not addressing them. But now, if from 1949, you translate what Dr. Ambedkar said about the Maoists, they want an absolute right of free speech, not reasonable restrictions, so that they can use the Constitution in order to overthrow the Parliamentary system because they don’t believe in it. That is precisely the reason that this misconceived argument has arisen. Now, let us concentrate on vandalism, which is terrible, but, at the same time, in the name of academic freedom, sedition must become a part of free speech! Can hate speech ever be free speech? Obviously, it can’t be. Can you have free speech to say, “I have arrived to break this country into pieces?” “भारत के टुकड़े-टुकड़े और जब तक टुकड़े नहीं होगें, जंग होगी।” अब आप संविधान को देखिए, जो डॉ. अम्‍बेडकर ने बनाया I In the Constitution itself, when he says in Article 19 (1) (a) Freedom of Expression, what does he say, as a restriction, in Article 19 (2)? It is sovereignty of India, integrity of India and public order. These are a part of the reasonable restrictions, which Pandit Nehru, Dr. Rajendra Babu, Dr. Ambedkar, all of them put into the Constitution.

Therefore, if, in prime campuses even. — all right, let’s forget the controversy at stake — nobody has denied that programme. In Jadavpur University, they weren’t saying, “ब्राह्मणवाद से आजादी’’ It was ‘’मणिपुर मांगे आज़ादी, कश्‍मीर मांगे आजादी, मिजोरम मांगे आजादी, गिलानी मांगे आजादी, अफज़ल गुरु मांगे आज़ादी।” The question is: Does the Indian Constitutional order allow this or not? And, now, to say that this kind of an act must go on and be ignored by the State, yes, Azad Saheb, if there is a fear of war with its ownself, it is a war on the territory of India. Let us forget the idea of India. It is the geography on the territory of India, which is being attacked today. Who lives if India does not survive? Therefore, it is the territory of India and, if you go back to Dr. Ambedkar’s speech, बहन जी, मैं चाहूंगा कि आप इसको निश्‍चित रुप से एक बार पढ़ लीजिए, उसी भाषण में डॉ. अम्‍बेडर कहते हैं कि आज के समय में हम लोग जो लोकतंत्र दे रहे हैं, इस देश को खतरा किससे है?
उन्‍होंने कहा कि इस देश का इतिहास रहा है कि इस देश के इतिहास में भीतरी ताकतें इस देश को तोड़ने का प्रयास करती रही हैं, जैसे जयचदं ने तोड़ने का प्रयास किया, जब शिवाजी लड़ाई लड़ रहे थे तो कुछ मराठा मुगलों के साथ चले गए और जब सिख लोग लड़ाई लड़ रहे थे तो गुलाब सिंह दूसरी तरफ चले गए। These are all a part of his speech of 25th November, 1949. Therefore, “India will be at war with itself” in the words of Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad…

Sir, I remember, sitting in the same chair, as he is, for five years, in Chhattisgarh, when the Maoists came and killed 73 CRPF jawans, everybody said, — Mr. Chidambaram was the Home Minister — that the Home Minister should resign. If you look up the record, I spoke from the same chair and said as to why Mr. Chidambaram should not resign. I said, “The moment he resigns, he gives Maoists a sense of victory.” That was my speech sitting there. And, therefore, कम से कम इस ईश्‍यू पर तो आप हमारे साथ होते! मुझे खेद है।

मुझे कम से कम इस बात का कोई संदेह नहीं है कि इस सदन में बैठे हुए जितने सदस्‍य हैं और वे जिन पार्टियों का प्रतिनिधित्‍व करते हैं, वे इस राष्‍ट्र की मुख्‍य धारा के साथ हैं, लेकिन दुर्भाग्‍य यह है कि कुछ लोग पहले सोचते हैं और फिर कदम उठाते हैं। यह एक ऐसी वारदात थी कि आपकी पार्टी ने पहले कदम उठा लिया और सोचा बाद में, इसलिए कि यह पश्‍चिमी बंगाल के चुनाव से पूर्व दोस्‍ती का प्रयास है।……(व्‍यवधान)… Sir, let me answer this question of PDP as well. The Congress (I) has believed and I believe too that if we are to fight the separatist forces in Jammu and Kashmir, the national parties will have to work with the mainstream party of Jammu and Kashmir whether it is the National Conference or the PDP. The National Conference had worked with us and they have worked with them. अगर हम यह कहते है कि नेशनल कॉन्‍फ्रेंस और पीडीपी को अलग रख दो और इसिलए अगर पीडीपी के साथ आज हम हैं या पहले आप नेशनल कॉन्‍फ्रेंस के साथ थे या पहले नेशनल कॉन्‍फ्रेंस हमारे साथ थी, तो …(व्यवधान)…

उसमें बिल्‍कुल स्‍पष्‍ट है कि कश्‍मीर की मेनस्‍ट्रीम पार्टीज़ के साथ हमारे वैचारिक मतभेद होते हुए भी नेशनल पार्टीज़ को काम करना पड़ेगा, क्‍योंकि हमें अलागवादियों से लड़ना है। इसिलए PDP के विषय पर हम अपोलोजेटिक होंगे, यह एक समझौता है और यह राष्‍ट्र हित में है। क्षेत्रीय पार्टियों के साथ आपने भी समझौता किया और हमने भी किया।

बिना सोचे हुए, उन माओवादियों और उन नकाबपोशों के, जो भारत को तोड़ने के नारे लगा रहे थे, उन्‍हें आप respectability देने पहुंच गए? क्या वहां पुलिस mainstream के खिलाफ थी? What does the Police do? If, in the heart of Delhi slogans are raised about breaking India, should the Police remain a mute spectator? यह जो misconceived विचार आया कि पुलिस को campus में नहीं जाना चाहिए, Of course, normally, the Police avoids going into the campus.

Is it not allowed? Is it a sovereign territory like a foreign mission?

Let me read. …(Interruptions)…. Let me read two statements. …(Interruptions)…
Let me read two statements. Congress was in power in 1983. Mrs. Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister. Q. No. 2055 says, “Whether it is a fact that on 11th May, 1983 the Police entered the JNU campus without permission of the Vice-Chancellor and the students were mercilessly beaten up.’ The answer was given by the then Education Minister. ‘The Vice-Chancellor and two senior functionaries of the University were held in illegal confinement for 50 hours at the residence of the Vice- Chancellor by a section of students. On the basis of the complaint registered at the Police Station, the Police entered the campus. As the Vice-Chancellor was under illegal confinement, there was no opportunity to even obtain his permission, if any required, to enter the campus. The students resisted the entry. However, no student was beaten up. Three hundred and seventy students, including 50 girls, were arrested for keeping him under illegal confinement.’

After I finish speaking, you please answer. The charge was illegal confinement because there was no “भारत को तोड़ो” slogans. It is much worse if for illegal confinement you can enter the JNU; Just because there are West Bengal elections round the corner doesn’t mean that the Congress Party will now take a stand that you never enter a campus even if slogans to break this country are being raised there. A University campus is not a sovereign territory.

I think, the Jawaharlal Nehru University is an integral part of India.
Therefore, Indian law applies and, therefore, if the penal code is being violated, the Police has a right to enter. The tragedy of 9th February is not only that the slogans were raised, the tragedy also is, how can National Party say, ‘these arrests are bad; police should not have entered?’ You are, indirectly or directly, adding respectability to a movement which was a charter to break this country into pieces.

I have absolutely no doubt that Shri Anand Sharma, with all his best intentions, and his leader have every right to go there. I have no doubt that you would condemn even more strongly these slogan than I have condemned. I have absolutely no doubt. My only problem is, you must realize that issue is not that some course is being tinkered with or some politicization is taking place. You have a situation where slogans against the integrity of India and against the sovereignty of India are being raised. And, let us be very clear. We did not enact Section 124 (a) of IPC which says that ‘whoever, by words spoken or visible representation or any action’ are enough…

Sir, the most celebrated case in post-Independence India — there was only one Constitution Bench — was in 1962. Everybody cites that, because that is from where you get this principle. I will hand over a copy of this to my friend for bedtime reading. I was going through the slogans raised and the speeches made. This was Pandit Nehru’s Government, which leveled the charge. The Trial Court convicted the man, High Court convicted him and the Supreme Court upheld the conviction. There was not a single slogan to break the country. The speech was by a communist leader from Begusarai. It is an old stronghold of Mr. Raja’s party; so, he is smiling. The speeches were, ‘Today these Congress goondas are sitting on the gaddi due to mistake of people. When we drove the Britishers, we shall strike to turnout these goondas as well. These official dogs will be liquidated along with the Congress goondas. These Congress goondas are banking upon the American dollars and imposing various kinds of taxes on the people. ‘This is the speech.

1962 की। उस समय पंडित जी भारत के प्रधानमंत्री थे। हम तो बहुत छोटी पार्टी थे। आपने 124 (A) लगाया, सुप्रीम कोर्ट तक पांच जजों की खंडपीठ ने इसको अपहोल्‍ड कर लिया। जिस लीगल सिद्धांत का आप जिक्र कर रहे हैं, the entire speech is by a leftist leader against the Congress Party. I am reading the judgement; it quotes it. The tragedy of Bengal is that now there are three Congress parties in Bengal. There is a Congress party, there is a Trinamool Congress and there is a Congress (Marxists).

So I yield to Mr. Derek O’Brien, there is a Congress, there is Trinamool Congress and there is a third one.


To come back to a more serious point, Sir, I would only urge this, the accused have been arrested, some of them; the investigations are on. The Home Minister has yesterday said, the Police will be more than fair. Please don’t — by getting into the side lanes — camouflage this great offence which has taken place. It is a very serious offence. These are the tendencies of these ultras of diverse ideologies, one is the Jihadist and the other is the Maoist, which is an alliance of them. हम तो नये सत्‍ता में आए हैं। आप तो बहुत पुराने अनुभवी हैं और इसीलिए मैं कह रहा हूं कि पहले सोच लेते जे0एन0यू0 जाने से पूर्