Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar on Sunday requested union ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and General V K Singh to help in “procuring an Army tank” that could be displayed at a “prominent place” on campus to serve as a “constant” reminder to students of the sacrifices the Army makes.
The idea of showcasing a military tank to “instill nationalism” was first brought up in the aftermath of the February 9, 2016 event on campus, where the alleged raising of anti-India slogans led to students being arrested for sedition.
Kumar was speaking at the first ever celebration of Kargil Vijay Diwas on the JNU campus, organised by the university administration and Veterans India. Besides Pradhan and Singh, cricketer Gautam Gambhir, Major General (retd) G D Bakshi and author Rajiv Malhotra were part of the event, which began with a Tiranga March from the main gate to the Convention Centre, carrying a 2,200 foot-long tricolor.
“It’s an important day for us to remember the sacrifices made by men in the defence forces to keep the safety and security of this country… We would like to request V K Singh and also Pradhan ji to help us procure an Army tank so that we can put it in a prominent place in JNU. The presence of the Army tank will constantly remind thousands of students who pass through this university about the great sacrifices and valour of the Indian Army,” Kumar said.
Gambhir spoke about the February 9 controversy, and said respect for the tricolor should be non-negotiable, and that the Army had the right to take extreme decisions. “Those standing on the borders are the real heroes, not cricketers or Bollywood celebrities. Standing in JNU, it takes me back to when there was a lot of talk about freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is important, but there are certain things which are absolutely non-negotiable. One is the respect for the tricolor,” Gambhir said.
“There are people sitting in AC rooms and comfortable positions should never try and make a comment about the defence forces. People who stay in extreme conditions and risk their lives should be given all the rights to take extreme decisions… Some time back, people said that the decision (to tie a Kashmiri man to the front of a military vehicle to deter stone-pelters) taken by Major (Leetul) Gogoi in Kashmir was very wrong, but I always maintained that people w’o’re in extreme conditions should have all the right to protect themselves, their men and the country,” Gambhir added.
MoS External Affairs V K Singh said the Indian Army had the “best record” on human rights across the world.
Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that in no other country was the Army undermined in the way some people did in India. “JNU is always making headlines. But I am happy that under the current VC, the university has installed the Wall of Heroes and organised this Tiranga March where slogans of Bharat Mata ki Jai reverberated,” Pradhan said.
Rajiv Malhotra, who has written a book called Academic Hinduphobia, said he was “glad we’re capturing JNU”. “This is not only a victory of taking over Kargil in the external war, but also the victory of taking over JNU in the internal war,” he said. He was supported by Bakshi, who said, that while the gadh (stronghold) of JNU was being captured, the other qilas (fortresses) of Jadavpur University and Hyderabad Central University remained to be captured as well.