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There has been an ongoing onslaught on university campuses all over the country, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) being no exception. A threat to the status quo, who are the most powerful critiques of governments be it the left or the right have been students. From China in the late 1980’s to Hong Kong and India at present, ruling governments have tried to unleash violence to subdue and silent the dissenting voices.

Image Source: Live Mint

What happened in JNU on the 5th of January, 2020 can be seen through variegated lenses. This incident can be seen either in isolation particular only to Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) or in the larger context of alleged right-wing violence all over the country especially against universities and students. It, hence becomes crucial to analyse such incidents through different positions so that one gets a clearer picture. 

A mob of almost 25 masked miscreants entered hostels and beat students mercilessly while threatening women residents of an acid attack. JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh was badly injured along with 34 other students who faced the brunt of this violence. Many students have claimed to identify the masked miscreants as belonging to RSS affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.

JNU Students Attacked By “Masked Miscreants

A mob of almost 25 masked miscreants entered hostels and beat students mercilessly while threatening women residents of an acid attack. JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh was badly injured along with 34 other students who faced the brunt of this violence. Many students have claimed to identify the masked miscreants as belonging to RSS affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad. The whole attack unleashed in the campus is in response to the ongoing movement against fee hike which had entered its 69th day of protest. 

Violence in any form is highly condemnable and must not be tolerated. The security guards who were meant to be 24*7 guarding the hostel gates, at such critical juncture disappeared and were no where near to be seen. The police when needed against the perpetrators, acted as onlookers was highly resented by the student community. As the main gates of the campus closed down, sloganeering of “Bharat Mata ki Jai” was started by some Hindu right-wing groups. This whole problematic idea of the Hindu right wing which, “reminds the Hindu right wing women that their body is akin to the nation,” only perpetuates victimisation of the women. 

The Need To Contextualise The Violence Against A Larger Framework

The whole movement against the fee hike must be seen with respect to the National Education Policy, a neo-liberal agenda to commercialise public education. Unlike other universities around the globe and in India that mirrors the narratives and discourses of the society and the majority, Jawaharlal Nehru University challenges it. It has provided a democratic space to all students to propose and question opinions, however different it might be.

Image Source: The Hindu

However, at this point in time, students and universities questioning, criticising and thinking against the mainstream majoritarian opinions have been threatened to conform. The violence inflicted on students in Aligarh Muslim University, Jamia Milia Islamia and now Jawaharlal Nehru University are prime examples. These perpetrators be it the police that enjoyed state impunity or the right-wing forces, threaten the very core of our country based on non-violence, justice, liberty and equality.

With the right-wing government launching one regressive act after another, women all over the country have taken it upon them to helm the protests and secure an egalitarian society based on the spirit of our constitution.

Women Helming The Protests: University Campuses To Shaheen Bagh

What threatens the powerful? Women who speak up, criticise and are fearless to voice their opinions. History remembers how, stalwarts like Rani Lakshmi Bai and Phoolan Devi have been at its very receiving end.

With the right-wing government launching one regressive act after another, women all over the country have taken it upon them to helm the protests and secure an egalitarian society based on the spirit of our constitution. Women have had a long history of leading social movements all over the world, India being no different. Women today, have geared up to raise their voices and make systemic changes in the political fissures that try to threaten the very democracy of universities in specific and our country at large. 

Also read: What Is So Feminist About The JNU Protests? #FeesMustFall

Ladeeda and Ayesha have become the face of protests by Jamia Milia Islamia against the draconian Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019. We saw them in videos fearlessly shouting slogans against the CAA and also trying to save their acquaintance from the violence of police forces. These two women have shown unwavering bravery in the face of fear and crisis.

Image Source: Al Jazeera

As the violence ensued on JNU campus, Aishe Ghosh, President of the Students Union who has been leading the movement against the fee hike was, “continually hit on the head with iron rods.” This atrocious cruelty against the president is an attempt to silence dissenting voices. Several other women of JNU who have been at the forefront of this movement to save public education were also injured on Sunday. The whole movement in JNU against the fee hike has received nation-wide solidarity because many understand its repercussions especially on women and other marginalised communities on campus. 

Image Source: HuffPost India

The protests held in Shaheen Bagh, helmed by women has become a site of resistance against the discriminatory law and also a source of inspiration to all. The women leading the protests in Shaheen Bagh gives us hope for a better tomorrow, hope that the spirit of our constitution will be safeguarded after all. These fearless acts will come to reverberate with extraordinari-ness in the annals of social movements. 

Image Source: Live Mint

Lastly, the persistent attacks on universities all over the country especially threatens womxn, Transpersons, Kashmiris, Dalits, PWDs and Tribals for whom universities ought to be safe spaces. Spaces where they can move and express freely, voicing their opinions without inhibitions while the patriarchal heteronormative society denies it. At this crucial juncture where students bear the brunt of violence on campuses we need to question the university administration and the government. The onus lies on the citizens of our country to condemn such brutal acts by the police and the right-wing forces, as it tends to destroy the future of million of students, the pillars of our country. 

Also read: Women Of JNU: What Right-Wing Media Will Not Tell You

References

Taylor & Francis Online
TandF Online
Times of India
The Hindu
India Today


Featured Image Source: Outlook

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