A group of 11 JNU teachers, seen as sympathetic to the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh students’ wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, have alleged that “JNU has become a den of organised sex racket”. In a 200-page document compiled last year and submitted to the university administration, the group led by Amita Singh, professor at the Centre for Law and Governance, contended:
“Over one thousand boys and girls (sic) students have been fined from Rs 2000/- to Rs 5000/- for consuming alcohol, for indulging in immoral activities in their hostels. On a casual glance at the gates of the hostel one can see hundreds of empty alcohol bottles. Sex workers have been openly employed in hostel messes, where they not only lure JNU girls into their organized racket but also pollute the boys. How come big and high brand cars are moving around the hostels particularly in the night hours. Some security staff is (sic) also involved in this racket. Freshers are particularly inducted in this ring of vice by luring through money, sex, drugs and alcohol, so that they become tied up with the cause of foreign agencies.”
Accusing a few JNU teachers for encouraging a decadent culture in JNU and legitimising separatist movements in India, the dossier titled ‘Jawaharlal Nehru University: The Den of Secessionism and Terrorism’ contends:
” …A few academics of JNU particularly Prof. Ayesha Kidwai, Prof Kamal Mitra Chenoy, Prof. Anuradha Chenoy, Prof Nivedita Menon have been misusing JNU and their coveted position of senior teachers in the university for propagating secessionism in Kashmir and North-East, legitimizing and rationalizing terrorist activities in these states, stoking the fires of hate and anti-nation sentiments by organizing seminars, lectures, issuing pamphlets, posters, publications and nukkad nataks, rallies, demonstrations, sit ins, hunger strikes and strikes in JNU for several years without any fear. The main goal of their activities is to attack Indian sovereignty in Kashmir, North-East, keep the Indian state in a destabilized state through Naxal, Maoist violence, secessionist movements. They are actively recruiting young minds in JNU campus and elsewhere by addicting them to night parties/revelries, alcoholism and cash payments to carry forward their agenda through mass campaigns, strikes etc. In this process JNU has become a den of organized sex racket in which some hostel karmacharis, maid servants, beauty parlours being run in Munirka village and the activists of DSF, DSU, AISA and other rogue elements are coordinating their activities. They have turned the autonomous body like GSCASH to strike at those students and faculty who do not fall in line with their nefarious agenda.”
The document notes:
“It is a matter of serious concern that some JNU academics masquerading as liberals and feminists have been engaged in nefarious and anti-national activities of maligning India publically through their statements, lectures, publications and extra-academic activities of their NGOs which receive liberal funding from foreign hostile agencies.”
Hari Ram Mishra, assistant professor in the Special Centre for Sanskrit Studies and a part of this group told The Wire, “The reason we compiled and submitted the dossier to the university administration was to prevent future disturbances in the university. JNU has become a place where communists terrorise others in the name of freedom of speech. Our point is that students should be apolitical. If you want to enter politics, there is a huge field outside. But JNU Students’ Union should be limited to campus work only. But unfortunately, here communists are preferred over meritorious students. The interview board selects you for teaching and research positions only if you are a communist. We want to make JNU a world-class university but politics in the campus prevents it from becoming one. The previous university administration was reluctant to take any action against the anti-national elements in the campus despite our complaints. In fact, it victimised the complainants.”
“I plan to tell the JNU teachers’ association to propose a complete ban on alcohol and motorcycles on campus. We need to strictly adhere to the JNU manual. In the manual, girls are not permitted to enter boys’ hostels. But no one follows it here. In a hostel raid, occasionally conducted by wardens, at least 40-50 boys are always fined for sheltering outsiders. In the same raids, so many girls are found to be present in the hostel rooms meant only for boys. Who knows where these girls are from? That is why I proposed to the present vice-chancellor to install CCTV cameras in hostels. I told him that unless you sanitise the hostels, the university cannot be run properly,” he added.
The dossier assumes added importance in the context of the university high-level enquiry committee (HLEC) report that found a number of students guilty of raising anti-national slogans in the campus. On 25 April, 2016 the university administration, acting upon the HLEC’s recommendations, announced harsh punishments for many students including Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya, Ashutosh Kumar, and Kanhaiya Kumar. However, a large section of JNU teachers and students have been opposing the HLEC report on the grounds that it violated many rules and regulations of the JNU constitution and did not take into account the versions of the students who have been claiming that they did nothing that can be called ‘anti-national.’
Compiled in 2015, the dossier can be seen as setting the script for the hate-campaign against JNU over the last two months. For example, it mentions many of the punished students as promoting and propagating ‘anti-national activities’ in the campus. Both the BJP and the RSS had launched an offensive campaign against the university with arguments similar to what has been stated in the dossier. The Organiser and Panchajanya, RSS’ mouthpieces, did a cover story in November, 2015 highlighting how JNU was ‘anti-national’ and ‘immoral’ in character. Similar allegations were advanced by the Rajasthan’s BJP legislator Gyandev Ahuja who was quoted as saying, “More than 10,000 butts of cigarettes and 4,000 pieces of beedis are found daily in the JNU campus. 50,000 big and small pieces of bones are left by those eating non-vegetarian food. They gorge on meat… these anti-nationals. 2,000 wrappers of chips and namkeen are found, as also 3,000 used condoms — the misdeeds they commit with our sisters and daughters there. And 500 used contraceptive injections are also found. Besides this, 2,000 liquor bottles as also over 3,000 beer cans and bottles are daily detected in the campus.”
The Delhi police report against JNU also mentions many of the points made in the dossier. To name a few, both the Delhi police report and the dossier claim that beef was served in hostel messes. Both also claim that a bunch of leftist students in the year 2010 celebrated the killing of 76 CRPF personnel in Dantewada. Similarly, both the reports interpret campus public meetings on human rights abuses in Kashmir valley and Chhattisgarh as ‘separatist’ activities. The Sangh Parivar machinery circulated many of these allegations in mobile messengers like WhatsApp over the last two months. During the nationalism versus sedition debate triggered by the much-highlighted controversy over ‘anti-national’ sloganeering, the Sangh Parivar continually tried to brand JNU as ‘anti-national’. Since JNU has had a strong Leftist political tradition, the Sangh Parivar has ideologically been opposed to JNU and its education practice since the 1970s. In this campaign, the Sangh Parivar has often resorted to sexist-feudal insinuations against the university, much like the allegations the 11-member group of teachers have made.
A majority of the students and teachers in JNU term these allegations as completely baseless and a part of the Hindutva propaganda against JNU’s liberal culture. The dossier provides only a set of pamphlets brought out by students’ organisations and discussion forums as evidence to establish JNU’s ‘anti-national’ character and make sweeping conclusions against a few teachers. However, many students The Wire spoke to were of the opinion that the pamphlets are a part of JNU’s tradition to discuss and debate different political thoughts freely and without any fear. This, they say, goes on to hone critical abilities of a research student. “How can the pamphlets be seen as evidence for anti-national activities in the campus? All political organisations, including the ABVP, bring out pamphlets to let the students know of their political standpoints,” said Om Prasad, a research scholar associated with All India Students’ Association (AISA).
Similarly teachers who have been named in the dossier as promoting ‘anti-national’ activities in the campus said that the dossier is a set of ridiculous allegations, borne out of whims and fancies of a right-wing group. “This highly ludicrous set of allegations against a number of JNU faculty (members), including myself, is laughable. This Nazi-Germany style denunciation document actually reveals the basic plot of the conspiracy that has unfolded over the past few months. The wilful misrepresentation of JNU faculty and students’ positions on various issues like the death penalty, AFSPA, communal, gender discriminatory, and casteist politics, the celebration of Mahishasur Divas, etc was used to set the script of the #shutdownantinationalJNU campaign. It should be noted that this script has been assiduously adhered to by a wide range of players starting from the government to MPs, MLAs, and bhakt trolls loyal to the Sangh Parivar down to the JNU administration, right down to the wild fantasies about sex, all night parties and alcohol consumption in the campus. The fact that this dossier was submitted to the previous JNU administration shows the plot hatched well in advance,” Ayesha Kidwai, professor in the Centre for Linguistics, told The Wire.
Professor in the Centre for Comparative Politics & Political Theory Nivedita Menon said, “Basically what this semi-literate, scurrilous, shoddily produced document ‘accuses’ some JNU faculty and students of, are publicly conducted intellectual and political acts that are basic rights in any democracy. This ‘dossier’ painstakingly puts together, as if secretly gathered through underground means, ‘evidence’ of ‘anti national activity’ – and what is this evidence? Copies of posters advertising events that have been publicly pasted all over campus – in the names of organisations, not anonymously; leaflets publicly distributed and fact-finding reports released at press conferences!”
“What this defamatory document provides no evidence of at all are filthy (but really hilarious) accusations. With all of this sex and alcoholism and night-parties to ‘co-ordinate’, it’s a wonder we find the time to co-ordinate our ‘attacks on Indian sovereignty’, while ‘keeping the Indian state in a destabilized state’. The gratuitous addition of wild and unsupported allegations of rampant sexual activity and alcoholism only proves they are desperate to paint JNU as a general ‘den of vice’, knowing that ‘anti-national’ is an unsustainable charge,” Menon said.
Professor of School of International Studies Anuradha Chenoy who has been mentioned in the dossier as one of the principal faculty members to encourage and legitimise secessionist movements in Kashmir told The Wire, “The dossier sees Prof. Kamal Mitra Chenoy and my visit to Muzaffarabad for a seminar as evidence of my ‘anti-national’ character. However, as a researcher of international relations, my role is to engage with different opinions. We had duly taken all permissions from the university authorities to participate in the seminar. Only because of the visit, we could know that there was a lot of negative sentiment against Pakistan in Muzaffarabad and that India has full right to talk about the problems of the contested territory. How does that make me anti-national?”
The former vice-chancellor S.K. Sopory confirmed to The Wire that due permissions were taken by Professor Anuradha Chenoy and Professor Kamal Mitra Chenoy to visit Muzaffarabad and it was within their academic right to engage with different international opinions.
In the light of recent developments in JNU, the 2015 dossier that was released only recently to a few journalists, assumes critical importance. The arguments put forward in the dossier have become central to how the Sangh Parivar and the Modi government have portrayed JNU over the last few months. The right-wing group of teachers, which has clearly gained confidence under the BJP-led government, seem to be the brain behind the hate campaign against JNU.
For a comment on the article by Amita Singh and reply by Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta, click here.