Action Taken on Complaint Against JNU Professor’s Criticism of BJP, Modi on TV

Kamal Mitra Chenoy referred to the Gujarat “genocide” and called the BJP “anti-Muslim” in his comments on Al Jazeera.

Kamal Mitra Chenoy. Credit: YoutubeKamal Mitra Chenoy. Credit: Youtube

Kamal Mitra Chenoy. Credit: Youtube

New Delhi: The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development is now acting on a BJP parliamentarian’s complaint against a JNU professor for comments made on TV in July. Kamal Mitra Chenoy, a professor of political science, had criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that he should have visited Palestine as well when he went to Israel. According to the Telegraph, Chenoy also referred to the Gujarat “genocide” and called the BJP “anti-Muslim” in his comments, which lasted less than four minutes.

After the telecast, Satya Pal Singh, a former police officer who was elected to the Lok Sabha from UP and became a minister of state in the HRD ministry last month, filed a complaint with parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar on July 6. According to Singh, Chenoy had made “anti-India” comments.

Formerly a Communist Party of India member, Chenoy joined the Aam Aadmi Party and campaigned against Modi in Varanasi in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

The parliamentary affairs minister sent Singh’s complaint to HRD minister Prakash Javadekar. An undersecretary in the ministry forwarded it to JNU registrar Pramod Kumar, asking for inputs. A reminder was sent to the registrar on September 22, and again on October 23.   He has now asked Chenoy to respond to the allegations, Telegraph reported.

While Chenoy did not want to comment on the issue, the newspaper quoted university sources as saying that the professor had sent in his response, defending his views and his right to express them. While Chenoy contradicted some of the points in the complaint, he stood by his criticism of Modi and the BJP, the Telegraph report says.

Nandita Narain, who like Chenoy is a former president of the Federation of Central University Teachers Associations, said that both the complaint and the actions taken thereafter are part of larger efforts aimed at “crushing dissent”. “This is harassment of worst kind. University teachers are expected to have freedom to express criticism of government policies. Nowhere do our service rules prohibit expressing our opinion that may be critical of government. Universities are places where people are trained to look at things critically. This is part of crushing dissent,” Narain told the Telegraph.

This is not the first time the government and its supporters have been accused of trying to silence those who disagree with them by labelling them as ‘anti-national’. This labelling has been used by the Centre several times in the context of university protests – including in the case of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula and Jawaharlal Nehru University students and teachers during their protests in February last year.

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  • Reprehensible and shameful that the voice of dissent is being stymied. The MHRD & the JNU authorities could do well to take a cue from how the Madras High Court today dismissed a petition seeking to revoke the censor certificate issued to “Mersal” over some alleged controversial dialogues relating to GST, and asserting that people’s right to freedom of expression applies to films as well. The MHRD/JNU people need to see reason and not invite opprobrium for their acts against Professor Kamal Mitra Chenoy, who like every citizen of India, has every right to express his views freely and openly. Nor does Professor Chenoy’s expression of views in any way violate the service rules of an academic. Pity that Satya Pal Singh, new to politics and in his swaddling clothes as a minister of state in the HRD ministry, still continues to wear his erstwhile police officer’s cap, and calls Professor Chenoy’s comments as “anti-India”. A few good tutorials will do him much good, rather than learning it the harsh way.

    • Amitabha Basu

      Excellent comment, Sudhanshu ji, sharing with acknowledgement ….

      • Thank you so much, Amitabhaji. As citizens, we must raise our voice against any “wrong” perpetrated by government or for that matter, any other organ of the State. This is the least that we ought to do in a democracy, to make democracy more participative and citizen-centric.

  • alok asthana

    Such simple innocuous dissent just can’t be crushed. Like mercury, you press it at one end, it’ll bulge at the other. Modi is only creating more enemies in society by this. Proves that he is not a good thinker. Had he been one, he would have congratulated Kamal Mitra and thus effectively stolen the wind out of his sails. But he is creating blunder after blunder.