After a series of protests by students, now teachers and academicians of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) have openly come forward in support of the students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). The teachers of TISS not only issued an open statement in support of the JNU students, but also did not conduct lectures on Thursday to mark their protest.
The teachers have condemned the incident unfolding over the past few days and extended their support to the student community.
The statement by the TISS faculty members stated: “We are deeply shocked and dismayed by the ongoing targetting of students, faculty and staff at HCU over the last few months and JNU recently.The events at HCU and JNU are unprecedented assaults on academic freedom and autonomy that follow from the constitutional guarantee to freedom of expression. Institutions of higher education across the country are facing similar challenges in the wake of systematic efforts aimed at creating fear and polarisation on campuses. It is not merely the right, but the duty of all institutions of higher education, to safeguard and foster such freedoms. We demand that the government immediately take action against those involved in abetting of Rohith Vemula’s suicide and meet the demands of Joint Action Committee at HCU. We also demand the release of Kanhaiya Kumar, the president of the JNU students’ body, and withdrawal of charges against other students. We demand a halt to the continuing targeting and harassment of the student body. We demand that all police personnel be withdrawn from the JNU campus. We demand that strong action be taken against those responsible for the brutal assault on students, teachers and mediapersons at Patiala House Court.”
JNU Students’ Union (JNU-SU) president Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested last week in connection with a case of sedition and criminal conspiracy, registered over the staging of a protest against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru in the varsity’s campus during which students allegedly shouted anti-India slogans.
Kumar’s arrest has triggered widespread outrage among students and teachers and drawn severe criticism from various political parties.
TISS teachers, academicians and students held a meeting in the campus Thursday, outside the institute’s convention centre. All the teachers and students wore black badges and decided to not conduct lectures on the campus for a day.
Meanwhile, All India Federation of University and College Teacher Organisation (AIFUCTO) too has come forward to extend its support to the JNU students. AIFUCTO general secretary professor Arun Kumar and president professor Kesab Bhattacharya, in a joint statement released Thursday, condemned the arrest of JNU-SU president Kanhaiya Kumar on sedition charges without any substantial proof. They said in the statement that it was a political move to malign the face of JNU and a direct attack on freedom of speech and thought to downsize the autonomy of
AIFUCTO stated: “AIFUCTO expresses its deepest concern over a series of incidents which have occurred in the JNU campus and outside, in the past few days. Shouting anti-India slogans in support of terrorists and their patrons is a grave threat to our national security and this cannot be tolerated. AIFUCTO condemns the action of subversive elements. But at the same time, AIFUCTO appeals to the central government not to use the incident as a ploy to defame and tarnish the image of JNU which has been one of the most democratic institutions of higher education in the country. The internal mechanism of the university should be allowed to operate and take appropriate action. The present government has remained apathetic to higher education in general and incidents like the one at JNU must not be used to unleash an era of repression on the democratic functioning of institutions of higher education.”
On Thursday, even TISS director S Parasuraman spoke to the students and teachers about the JNU incident. However, none of the media representatives were allowed inside and all the teachers and students were asked to switch off their mobile phones.