New Delhi: Nearly a year after Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) hosted a freedom run and a flag-hoisting ceremony along with a ‘patriotic’ singing competition to mark Independence Day, a fresh wave of patriotism has engulfed the university – this time with plans to display a military tank in the campus to help instil among students a “love for the army”.
According to an Indian Express report, during the July 23 celebration of Kargil Vijay Diwas – which began with a tricolour march – JNU vice chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar requested Union ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and V.K. Singh to help the university procure a tank to remind students of the “great sacrifices and valour of the Indian army”.
The event also featured performances by the army band and the felicitation of women family members of soldiers who died in the 1999 war.
Commending the university for the event, B.K. Mishra, head of Veterans India, which helped organise it, said: “We will create a situation where people will love the nation. And if they don’t, we will force them to love it.”
While Kumar termed the programme as “historic,” according to a Times of India report, Pradhan said he was surprised by the change in the environment of the university – which last year was the epicentre of a controversy over alleged anti-national slogans and where now slogans of ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’ were being raised.
Crediting the vice chancellor for proclaiming “victory over JNU,” retired Indian army officer G.D. Bakshi added that there were several other “forts like Jadavpur and Hyderabad university which our army will capture.”
According to Indian Express, addressing the audience, cricketer Gautam Gambhir referenced controversies surrounding freedom of expression in the university and around the human shield in Kashmir, saying that while freedom of speech was essential, there were certain things that were “absolutely non-negotiable” – like respect for the tricolour.
“People said that the decision [to tie a Kashmiri man to the front of a military vehicle to deter stone-pelters] taken by Major [Leetul] Gogoi in Kashmir was very wrong, but I always maintained that people who are in extreme conditions should have all the right to protect themselves, their men and the country,” he said.