On Sunday, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar requested union ministers to help in “procuring an Army tank” to be displayed prominently on campus to serve as a “constant reminder” to students about the sacrifices the Army make.
Of course, it sounds more like a constant reminder to the students of JNU about the relentless and often cruel power of the State, and a reminder of the government’s truly vicious responses to protests in JNU and other colleges early last year, which saw several students arrested, beaten and slapped with the now-meaningless epithet of “seditious anti-national”.
The VC was speaking at the (first ever) celebration of Kargil Vijay Diwas in JNU, which began with a “Tiranga March” where they carried a 2,200 foot long Indian flag. Which to me seems longer than necessary for any practical purpose, but really, okay. The other people present at this event, including cricketer Gautam Gambhir, did actually allude to the February 2016 protests in their various speeches. Gambhir said, “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.”
Some people hope that this Napolean-complex type plan from JNU will be repeated in other universities, especially those that have active cultures of much-needed student protest. Indian Express reports that other people (I shy away from using the word dignitaries here) present at the JNU event on Sunday, including Rajiv Malhotra, author of Academic Hinduphobia, said they were “glad we’re capturing JNU”. Major General (retd) G D Bakshi added “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.”
Which is ominous, because it’s hard to believe the Hyderabad Central University has more attacks coming its way. Back in March 2016, in the aftermath of the protests around the institutional murder of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula, it was reported that the students were being trapped inside the university with no food, water or money in the ATMs.