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Emeritus Professors of JNU write to VC protesting against punishing students

“As Emeritus Professors of the JNU we are disturbed by the turn of events. The current administration has clamped down on free discussion by imposing severe punishments of fines and rustication on those who organised a meeting on 9th February 2016," says the letter.

JNU, Jawaharlal Nehru University, JNU VC, Emeritus professors JNU, JNU professors write to VC, Romila Thapar, JNU professors protest punishing students, protest against punishing students in JNU, JNU protest letter to VC The professors argued that JNU “has always been a space where we allowed free discussion of issues raised by students and faculty”.

Ten Emeritus Professors of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) including noted historian Romila Thapar, Hindi author Namwar Singh and former Delhi University (DU) vice-chancellor Deepak Nayyar, have written to the vice-chancellor asking him to “reconsider” his decision of giving “severe” punishments to students, and issuing an “order” prohibiting the entry of outsiders in the campus.

Others who have signed the letter include economists Amit Bhaduri, Prabhat Patnaik, Utsa Patnaik and Sheila Bhalla, political scientists Zoya Hasan and S D Muni, and Emeritus Professor of German Studies Anil Bhatti.

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“As Emeritus Professors of the JNU we are disturbed by the turn of events. The current administration has clamped down on free discussion by imposing severe punishments of fines and rustication on those who organised a meeting on 9th February 2016. This, despite the fact that they were arrested and sent to jail. Now an order has been issued prohibiting the entry of outsiders to the University premises,” the professors wrote in their letter.

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“We are writing to protest against both these measures. We request that the University administration reconsider both these decisions neither of which is required, and act according to the accepted norms of the JNU,” they further wrote.

They also argued that JNU “has always been a space where we allowed free discussion of issues raised by students and faculty”. “In the course of such discussion whether in seminars or at other informal gatherings, speakers from both within the University and from outside were invited to participate,” they wrote.

The letter comes in the context of an “appeal against inviting outsiders” for participating in events on campus, issued by the JNU Registrar on May 4. He had said this could “undermine peace and security in the campus”.

On the basis of a High Level Enquiry Committee (HLEC) report, the JNU administration had earlier punished and fined 21 students. While Anirban Bhattacharya was rusticated for a semester and declared out of bounds for five year after submission of his PhD, Umar Khalid was fined Rs 20,000 and rusticated for a semester. Kashmiri student Mujeeb Gattoo was also rusticated for two semesters. The hostel facility was temporarily withdrawn of two students and 14 others were fined.

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JNU students and teachers both have been sitting on a hunger strike, demanding that both these decisions by the university be taken back.

First published on: 10-05-2016 at 13:50 IST
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