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Make freedom in India: Translated excerpts of Kanhaiya Kumar’s speech at JNU

Translated excerpts of the speech by JNUSU president on JNU campus, March 3

Written by Kanhaiya Kumar |
Updated: March 5, 2016 7:56:19 am
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We have faith in the Constitution, in this country’s law and the judiciary, and that change is truth. And there will be change, we are standing on the side of change. I have faith in our Constitution. As is written in the preamble, we stand by socialism, secularism and equality.

The first thing is, I don’t want to say anything about proceedings that are sub judice. I only want to say the entire country truly believes in the Constitution and wants to make Babasaheb Ambedkar’s dreams come true.

The PM has tweeted “satyamev jayate”. I may have a lot of ideological differences with you, PMji; but this slogan is not his, it’s in our Constitution. So I, too, will say satyamev jayate. Truth will win. I want to tell all those who are part of this fight that I will share my experience. So don’t believe that sedition has been used as a political tool against students, understand it like this:

I come from a village. In railway stations, there are magicians. The magician shows magic and sells rings, all kinds of rings, and he will tell you the ring will fulfil all your dreams. Similarly, we have some policy pundits in our country who say black money will come back, Har Har Modi, price rise will come down. Indians have a tendency to forget such things quickly but this time, the “jumla” is so big that we can’t forget these phrases. So their idea is that we should forget these “jumlas”. And how will they make us forget? They will stop fellowships to all research scholars. And what will people say? “Please give the fellowship, please give the fellowship.” Then they will say, okay, the fellowship of Rs 5,000 and Rs 8,000 will continue. So the question of raising the fellowship grant will never arise. And who will oppose this? JNU.

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So when you get abused, don’t worry. In this country, whoever speaks against this anti-people government, what will its cyber cell department do? Make a doctored video. Abuse you. And count the number of condoms in your dustbin. These are solemn times and we need to seriously understand that the attack on JNU is an organised attack because they want to delegitimise the Occupy UGC movement and also because they want to end the ongoing fight to ensure justice for Rohith Vemula.

nationalism-759I want to tell you one thing: Getting admission to JNU is not easy. So it’s not easy to forget JNU students either. If you try to ensure that we forget things, we’ll remind you again and again. Whenever the political establishment has committed atrocities, JNU has stood up against it. You cannot dilute our fight.

What do they say? On one side, soldiers are dying at the borders. I salute those soldiers. But I have a question. A BJP leader said in Lok Sabha that young men are dying at the borders. I want to ask him, are they your brothers? Or the millions of farmers committing suicide, those who grow wheat for the country and the soldiers, the soldier’s father; what will you say to them? The farmer who works in the fields is my father, the soldier at the border who dies is my brother. So do not try to create a binary and false debate in the country. Who is responsible for deaths of soldiers? And in Parliament, who are you playing politics with? Who will take responsibility for those dying? Not the ones who are fighting, but rather the people making us fight.


So who is responsible for war? And who is responsible for making people fight? How my father is dying and how my brothers die? I want to ask those making these binary arguments on primetime television: Is it wrong to ask for freedom from problems in the country. Is that wrong? They ask, who do we want freedom from? You tell us. Is anyone a slave in India? No. So obviously we are not asking for freedom from India, my brothers, but we are asking for freedom in the country. And there is a clear difference between the two. We are not asking for freedom from the English. That freedom the people of this country fought for, and have already won.

I will now speak of my experiences. The police would take me for food and for medical tests. They’d ask how I survive without talking. So I started talking to them. And it turned out that the policeman was someone like me. In this country, who works in the police? Whose father is a farmer or a labourer or from a weaker section of society? I am also from one of the country’s backward states, Bihar. I also come from a poor family of farmers. And those who work in the police come from such families. I spoke to constables, head constables and inspectors; I did not interact much with IPS officers.

So I spoke to the policemen. They asked me, why do you say “lal salaam”? So I told them, lal means revolution, and salaam is to salute the revolution. So he said, “I do not understand.” And I asked, “Inquilab zindabad?” He said he knew this. So I said revolution in Urdu is inquilab. And he said even the ABVP raises this slogan. Now he understood. Theirs is a fake slogan and ours is real. Please tell me this, the policeman asked, “You people get everything cheap in JNU?” So I asked him why this has not happened with him. He works for 18 hours a day and without overtime. So I asked where he gets the money from? What they call corruption.


They get Rs 110 for their uniform. For this much, you cannot even buy undergarments. The policeman said this. And I told him, this is what we want freedom from. From hunger, from corruption. By this time, the agitation in Haryana had begun. A lot of personnel in Delhi Police come from Haryana. I salute people from Haryana, they work very hard. He said this caste politics is very bad. So I replied that this is what we want freedom from. So he said there is nothing wrong or seditious with this. I asked him who has the most power in the system. He said his baton. I asked if he could use the baton on his own. He said no. So who has all the power? He said the man who makes statements on fake tweets. I told him we wanted freedom from such Sanghi people who make statements on false tweets.

The policeman, like me, is from a common family. He also wanted to do a PhD. But he did not get a JNU. Like me, he wanted to fight the system. He wanted to understand the difference between sakshar and shikshit. But he is now in the police. That’s why you want to stamp us down. Because you don’t want a poor man to do a PhD. Because education being sold is expensive and he will not have the money to pursue it. You want to drown out those voices who can unite. Whether they are on the border or dying in the fields or are asking for freedom in JNU.

Babasaheb had said political democracy alone would not work, we will work towards social democracy. That’s why we speak of the Constitution. Lenin said democracy is indispensable to socialism. That’s why we speak of democracy, freedom of expression, equality and socialism. Because a peon’s son and the son of the president can study in the same school. You want to drown such voices.

Translated by Apurva and Seema Chishti

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First published on: 05-03-2016 at 12:08:43 am
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