A Syllabus on Sedition


Credit: Shome Basu

Getting the story straight for the future generation. Credit: Shome Basu

“Perhaps what has been most baffling about the fallout from JNU, following the February 9 protest, has been the reckless reporting in many quarters of the mainstream media and across the web. Possibly slanderous and libelous, the coverage has no doubt been unethical, irresponsible, and more sensational than informative,” Zack Shlachter told The Wire.

Seeing this coverage,Shlachter, a writer and member of the Indian diaspora based in Austin, Texas, decided to a create what he has called the “JNU Distance Learning Sedition Module”. “This syllabus is an attempt at curating some of the more reliable articles, presenting vital counter-narratives, and providing slightly deeper context on some of the issues at play than the news cycle permits in the era of Arnab and Twitter,” Shlachter explains. “…the goal is to arm readers with information, context, and arguments that might help clarify their own positions and prepare them to better engage, or at least understand, those for whom this whole snafu is as inscrutable as the right is to us. Aside from the media’s propensity to misinformation, this unfolding drama has shown how ideas now passé to academics and activists — ideas questioning the nation-state and nationalism, the caste hierarchy, the Indian state’s jurisdiction over Kashmir, or the monolithic and suspect nature reflexively ascribed to “Muslims” — are utterly foreign and inflammatory not just to the right, but to wide swaths of mainstream society. These are not all “raving sanghis” but very often our own family members, friends, classmates or coworkers, and neighbors. We need to do better at communicating, and at understanding the appeal of the right, if we are to ever realize the ideas that have become so self-evident to us”.

The syllabus that he created is doing the rounds on social media. It is reproduced below.

Primary Sources

Umar Khalid Speech at Admin Block on 22 Feb. 2016” (English transcript)

Kanhaiya Kumar’s speech” (English transcript)

JNU Sedition-Accused Anant Prakash Narayan’s Open Letter To Smriti Irani

‘Patently false’: JNU faculty rips into the Bar Council report justifying the Patiala House attack

Zee News Journalist Quits in Disgust Over JNU Coverage, Tells All in Letter

Delhi High Court judgment on Kanhaiya Kumar’s bail

The Trial by Franz Kafka



Caste. Sedition. Oppression: How a Student’s Suicide Sparked an Uprising in India

The other sedition arrest — SAR Geelani

Why Does No One Care About The Sedition Case Against SAR Geelani?

Mulakat Afzal: The first interview Mohammad Afzal gave from inside Tihar jail, in 2006

The hanging of Afzal Guru is a stain on India’s democracy

The Country Without a Post Office

How The Left Won JNU” (excerpt from JNU: The Making of a University)

Bahujan discourse puts JNU in the crosshairs

“Emergency Files: How the students of JNU fought the Emergency”

Part I, Part II, Part III
Contrary to popular belief…

Why JNU’s Kanhaiya Kumar Did Not Commit Sedition, And Won’t Get Convicted For It

How Zee TV fuelled state action against JNU students

Sedition frenzy: How the media painted atheist and communist Umar Khalid as an Islamist

Fact Check – Some of the points made by HRD minister Smriti Irani in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday and how they fare in an accuracy test

Rohith Vemula’s Family, Peers Cry Foul at Smriti Irani’s Claims

Smriti Irani is a liar! Read comprehensive and pointed rebuttal by Rohith Vemula’s friends

The art of manufacturing international outrage

Missing the Story: Lessons for Indian journalism from Dalit mobilisation online

Three out of seven JNU clips ‘doctored’

Times Now First Denies Airing Doctored Video, Then Concedes it Did


Sedition, Speech and Censorship

A History of the Infamous Section 124A

Sedition and the government

No matter who’s ruling, they just won’t brook dissent” (a timeline of sedition cases across India, 2009 — present), in chart form

The Second Coming of Sedition

Mridula Garg, Soli Sorabjee, Fali Nariman and Others on the Use and Abuse of Sedition Laws

Between Sedition and Seduction: Thinking Censorship in South Asia

Sedition Laws Have No Place in a Democracy and Should be Repealed

Sedition and the Status of Subversive Speech in India

Love Language or Hate Speech

What is Sedition? – I: The Kedar Nath Singh Case

Sedition as Anti-Democratic Speech: The Paradox of Liberal Neutrality?”

Evolution of the Law of ‘Sedition’ in the Context of the Indian Freedom Struggle: 1837-1922

Savarkar (1883-1966), Sedition and Surveillance: the rule of law in a colonial situation

Sedition Laws and the Death of Free Speech in India” (Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusion Policy; National Law School of India University, Bangalore; Alternative Law Forum)
An Analysis of the Modern Offence of Sedition

Once Again, Sedition is at the Heart of Defining the Nation

Emergency Provisions in the Indian Constitution: A Study of the ‘Internal Disturbance’ of 1975

Pilate’s Paramount Duty: Constitutional ‘Reasonableness’ and the Restriction of Freedom of Speech and Assembly

A treatise on the law of sedition and cognate offences in British India, penal and preventive: with an excerpt of the acts in force relating to the press, the stage, and public meetings” (1911)


Editorials and Commentary

On Kanhaiya: It is Time to Stand Up and Be Counted

“‘I Respect My Brother’s Courage,’ Says Umar Khalid’s Sister

Speech by Manikant Kumar, Kanhaiya’s Brother

Speech by Rajendra Singh, Kanhaiya’s Uncle

If Kanhaiya Kumar is to be Prosecuted, then Charge Me With Sedition Too

Umar Khalid is no jihadi. BJP is pushing him the Rohith way

Umar Khalid, my son

An Open Letter to DSU’s Umar Khaled From a JNU Alumnus

A Thousand Kanhaiya Kumars and Umar Khalids Will Bloom

Umar Khalid, My Student

Concerned Kashmir Scholars on current crisis at JNU

I see Rohith in each one of you, says Radhika Vemula

Be Warned, the Assault on JNU is Part of a Pattern

Come on man, be clear, what comes first—Nation, or Democracy?”

JNU stir: Why ‘anti-nationalism’ is an empty abuse that has no place in a free society

Anti-fascist movements — how inclusive are they?”


Know thy Enemy

Why I Joined the Sangh, and Why I Left

My Years in the R.S.S.” (1988)

All Our Goddesses Are Armed.: Religion, resistance and revenge in the life of a militant Hindu nationalist woman

More Paola Baccheta on Hindu nationalist women here, here, here, and on representations of Muslim women in Hindu nationalist discourse

Walter Andersen’s 1972 articles for the Economic and Political Weekly on the RSS: Parts I, II, III, IV

A Prelude to Sedition: The ABVP’s Campaign Against Anti-National Activities At JNU Did Not Occur Overnight

A Conversation With Vikram Chauhan, The Face Of The ‘Nationalist’ Movement Against JNU


Across the Divide?

The need for communication: The broader issue that Delhi police’s confusion reflects

Why Does This Black Guy Hang Out With the Klan?”

Is Bad Writing Necessary?”