Enquiry Committee Chaired by YFE Man Flouts All Norms of Natural Justice to Declare Students ‘Guilty’!
Reject Politically Motivated High Level Victimisation of Students Under the Dictation of the Saffron Regime!
The ‘show cause notice’ served by the Proctor to Comrades Ashutosh, Umar and Anirban states that the ‘High Level Enquiry Committee’ Report finds them guilty of “Arousing communal, caste and regional feeling and creating disharmony among students.”
Don’t these words echo those of Modi Minister Bandaru Dattatraya’s letter accusing Rohith Vemula and his comrades of being ‘casteist, extremist and anti-national’?
Who is Casteist and Communal?
In both HCU and JNU, fighters against casteism and communalism are being branded as casteist and communal by the most casteist and communal forces in India!
In JNU’s specific case, it is not surprising at all that a committee headed by YFE fund-raiser Rakesh Bhatnagar found Ashutosh, Umar and Anirban guilty of casteism! After all, the YFE brands reservations as ‘casteist’ and its anti-constitutional rants against reservations as ‘equality.’
The Modi Government had also accused Teesta Setalvad – the anti-communal fighter – of being ‘communal.’ Now it is doing the same to JNU students.
In the world of the RSS, it is casteist and communal to raise slogans of azaadi from Manuvad and Sampradayikta. When the University Administrations start reading from this RSS script, it must be resisted at all costs.
HCU had expelled five ASA students based on a biased enquiry report. JNU’s biased enquiry process must be exposed and we must ensure that what was done to Rohith is not repeated with a single JNU student.
We would like to tell the JNU Administration: none of the JNU Left students are ‘casteist, communal’ or guilty of any ‘indiscipline.’ But we would like to ask the JNU Administration, when does it plan to take action against the Chairperson of the Centre for Law and Governance Prof. Amita Singh, for her interview in which she said that a handful of ‘Dalit and Muslim’ JNU teachers are anti-national ‘because of their grudges’? Can there be any more blatant, brazen display of casteist and communal sentiment?
Administration Shows No Crime – Yet Asks Students to ‘Show Cause’!
Several students have been served ‘show cause notices’ by the proctorial board which states they have been ‘found guilty’ on the ‘9th February incident’ by the High Level Enquiry Committee formed by the JNU administration.
Misuse of Administrative Power to Witch-hunt of Ideological Opponents of RSS-ABVP : Apart from the three notices mentioned above, several of the ‘show cause notices’ state that the students have been found guilty of: “Any other act which may be considered by the VC or any other competent authority to be an act of violation of discipline and conduct”.
So, students have not been told what specific ‘indiscipline’ they are accused of having committed, or what evidence has been found against them! The ‘competent authorities’ have found them ‘guilty’ nevertheless. Since these ‘competent authorities include the JNU Registrar who has been working in cahoots with BJP’s agenda and actively masterminded the political witch-hunt on JNU, their conclusions are not surprising.
In sum, the ‘competent authorities’ under BJP rule have taken upon themselves the arbitrary power to declare anything and everything that goes against the ideology and politics of the Sangh brigade as ‘indiscipline’ and ‘punishable’!
Just as the ‘competent authorities’ – under BJP pressure and MHRD dictation – found Rohith Vemula guilty of ‘indiscipline’ in HCU, the same ‘competent authorities’ helped the MHRD name ‘guilty’ JNU students on the floor of Parliament even before the enquiry process had begun, and have now produced a ‘report’ that confirms that preconceived ‘guilt’!
Violation of All Principles of Natural Justice: It must be noted that none of the Left student activists who have been served show cause notices, were never informed of the specific charges against them, or informed of the witnesses or evidence against them, or given any opportunity to cross question witnesses against them. When the defendants were served ‘show cause notice before taking action for guilt’, neither their ‘guilt’ nor the ‘enquiry report’ and not even the recommended punishments were mentioned! Today, after demand, the defendants, are being given only a truncated version of the enquiry report minus the recommended punishments! However, the ‘punishments’, while not being told to the defendants, have been selectively leaked to the media to create a hostile climate on the day that the bail plea of Umar and Anirban was being taken up.
The Sham ‘Enquiry’: We share the many glaringly unjust and biased aspects of the HLEC report that various print media journalists have noted:
- The news item in the Indian Express quotes a student saying, “Aishwarya Adhikari was first suspended and has now been issued a showcause notice, which does not mention any details. But her name is not mentioned even once in the report. Then, on what basis have they found her guilty of anything.”
- The same news item notes that the ‘report also lists the names of two Kashmiri students from JNU as being in “close proximity” of the group of outsiders’ who allegedly raised objectionable slogans. Since when is it a crime to be in ‘proximity’ to others?!
- Most significantly, a news item in the DNA notes, “Though the internal committee report relies heavily on video evidence to identify students present at the venue, when it comes to identifying which student raised what slogans, the report cites ‘depositions’ of security guards present at the spot along with ‘unidentified eye-witnesses’.” Why has the ‘High Level’ Enquiry Committee been unable to do the obvious: state exactly which student raised which slogans based on video evidence? Why rely on the (fabricated) evidence of security guards and ‘unidentified eye witnesses’ (i.e ABVP cadre)?! Hasn’t the Delhi govt DM enquiry already noted the changing versions of the depositions by the security guards? Remember, the ABVP cadre biasedly deposed in the SC/ST Atrocities case against Prof Burton Cleetus as well – but a Court that recently granted Prof Cleetus anticipatory bail noted that there was no credible evidence to suggest that the SC/ST Act could be invoked at all.
- According to some news items, the HLEC report suggests that ‘masked outsiders’ raised the slogans of ‘destroying India’ – if so, why punish any JNU student at all? The Registrar had, weeks ago, declared that these slogans were being raised by the JNUSU President and other JNU students – based on videos later found to be doctored. Now, based on the undoctored videos, why is the JNU Administration unable to substantiate the guilt that the Registrar had declared long ago?! And if according to the JNU administration slogans are criminalised, then why no action being taken against the hate-filled violent sloganeering by the ABVP (khoon se tilak, goliyon se aarti etc)?
- The Registrar has told news papers for the past several days that “JNU clarifies that Registrar had a meeting with the following JNUSU representatives… Kanhaiya Kumar, Rama Naga and Saurabh Sharma. The meeting was held on February 9 in the Registrar’s office at 3 pm.” Today’s papers state that the HLEC report repeats this claim, adding that on 9 February “Around 3 pm, Kanhaiya Kumar and Rama Naga were at the Registrar’s office to discuss some bus route. After 10 minutes Sharma joined them, who showed them copies of the posters.” Such a deposition by the Registrar of “a meeting with Kanhaiya, Rama, Saurabh Sharma on 9 Feb 3 pm” is being made to establish that the JNUSU President was aware of the impending controversy of the 9 Feb incident hours in advance. We demand of the administration to make public the CCTV footage at Registrar’s office of 9 February 2.30 pm onwards – let the campus and media see if the Registrar’s claims about JNUSU President’s presence at his office (on 9 Feb) are proved true or false.
- The Indian Express news item also quotes teachers pointing out that ‘it was strange for the report to make note of “lapses” which seemed to be routine,’ since ‘There are many events which are held with incomplete information and bookings,’ – has the HLEC checked whether all bookings by, say ABVP, are free of similar ‘lapses’? ‘Lapses’ in booking are not a crime. If the organizers of the 9 Feb event did not give every detail of information, did the JNU Administration ever ask for such information?
- Why has the HLEC failed to probe the role of the ABVP in fomenting violence on 9 February, and in inviting a chosen media channel(Zee TV) which subsequently indulged in highly provocative airing of videos later found to be doctored?
- Why has the HLEC failed to probe into the role of JNU authorities in facilitating the illegal police crackdown on JNU?
Finally, many news items have stated that the HLEC has found Left student activists guilty of ‘defiance’ in holding the 9 February event. It is is crucial and important that Left activists and democratic student community all come together to defend any event when it is arbitrarily canceled by the Administration under ABVP pressure – because ABVP cannot be allowed to act as a censor board on free speech in JNU. In JNU as well as in DU, Allahabad University, or Lucknow University, ABVP routinely disrupted film screenings and forced pliant administrations to cancel talks by journalist Siddharth Varadarajan or AIPWA leader Kavita Krishnan on honour crimes, branding the films or speakers as ‘anti-national’!
The entire enquiry procedure of the HLEC has been proven to be a sham. Since the beginning, the HLEC has flouted every norm of natural justice. And now the outcome of the enquiry has once again established what the motive was.
They wish to punish us for not sharing RSS’s world view- a world view of Manu Smriti, of hatred, of communal frenzy and patriarchal chauvinism. We must ensure that not a single student is victimised by such a biased report – we will not allow what happened to Rohith and his comrades in HCU, to be repeated in JNU!