New Delhi: Accusing ‘masked goons’ of perpetrating a ‘culture of fear’ by attacking students and faculty members of JNU, a solidarity statement endorsed by more than 8,700 people said the events of January 5 led them to the ‘forced’ conclusion that the university’s administration and the police were “complicit in facilitating the attack”.
The statement was initiated by scholars based in India and abroad, who were “shocked by the events that unfolded” on the JNU campus. The signatories said there was “a complete breakdown of campus security”, asking why masked attackers were allowed to freely walk all across campus and “systematically go from one hostel to another intentionally searching for students involved in the protest against the fee hike”.
They also criticised the JNU administration for its “extremely slow” response even as students reported continued violence. They also questioned why the police did not take any action against the attackers and why the street lights on the road leading to the JNU main gate were switched off.
“At a time when protests all over the country are emphasizing the need to protect the Indian Constitution and the basic principles of liberty, equality and the right to freedom of speech, the unprecedented attack on JNU students and faculty is unacceptable,” the said.
The signatories demanded that JNU registrar Pramod Kumar and the vice chancellor Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar take “moral responsibility” for their failure to guarantee the safety of their students and faculty members. “Such a total breakdown in campus safety is unconscionable,” they said, asking that the injured receive prompt medical aid and a fair and impartial inquiry be conducted into the events of January 5 to hold the perpetrators accountable.
Read the full statement below.
Solidarity Statement condemning the attack on the Students and Professors of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi on 5 January 2020
As teachers, researchers, students and concerned individuals in India and abroad, we strongly condemn the attack by masked goons (allegedly belonging to the ABVP) on unarmed JNU students and faculty on the evening of 5 January 2020 with rocks and rods while the police looked on.
Timeline of the attack and context:
The JNU students have been on strike over the past few months against a steep fee hike, which will make the university inaccessible to the economically and socially marginalised sections. The unprovoked violence on the protesting students was started by the JNU security staff on January 4, who were ordered to break the strike. Later in the day, some ABVP activists were caught on camera attacking the protesting students. It was against this violence that the JNU Teachers’ Association had given a call for a peace meeting on campus on January 5, 2020. While the meeting was taking place, a group of masked goons from outside the campus started attacking the peacefully assembled students and teachers with rods and bricks. Eyewitnesses interviewed on NDTV suggest that more than 50 armed goons entered the campus around 6:30 pm.
Breakdown of campus security:
There was a complete breakdown of campus security on January 5. Masked attackers were allowed to freely walk all across campus and systematically go from from one hostel to another intentionally searching for students involved in the protest against the fee hike. Videos have emerged from specific hostels with broken windows, showing large stones thrown around, and cars vandalized by masked goons. They entered women’s hostels even as campus security stood by silently.
News media is showing horrifying images of the attack on the JNUSU President, Aishe Ghosh — visibly bleeding and seriously injured. Currently, thirty students and thirteen faculty have been injured and are in the trauma centre of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). At least three of them including Ms. Ghosh are reportedly in critical condition. Media shared images of at least one faculty member, Professor Sucharita Sen who was also attacked and suffered head injuries.
Campus lock down and slow response of university administrators:
Throughout the shocking attack, the JNU administration was extremely slow to respond even as students reported continued violence. Videos emerged from JNU showing very little visible presence of the police while the attack was underway. The Registrar of JNU issued a statement only at 9 PM, two hours after the attack had begun. The Vice Chancellor at the time of writing this statement has done little to reassure students or faculty of their physical wellbeing.
Why such violence? And why now?
JNU is a premier research university with a long history of inclusive admissions policies and a questioning academic culture. This attack has come twenty-three days after the police violence in Jamia Millia Islamia University, Aligarh Muslim University, and Cotton College against students and those peacefully dissenting against discriminatory policies of the government in India.
Instead of police, this time masked goons are deliberately creating a “culture of fear” on public university campuses. Except for one NDTV reporter, media was not provided access into the university. Yogendra Yadav, President of the Swaraj party, was stopped from entering the campus and was attacked for speaking to the media. Street lights were turned off outside the North Gate. Police inaction at JNU on January 5 enabled the attackers to proceed unhindered.
Public university campuses offer a safe, unarmed space for debate, discussion and learning for students from diverse regional and class backgrounds. They are the lifeblood of democracy.
At a time when protests all over the country are emphasizing the need to protect the Indian Constitution and the basic principles of liberty, equality and the right to freedom of speech, the unprecedented attack on JNU students and faculty is unacceptable.
We are forced to conclude that the administration and the police were complicit in facilitating the attack.
- We demand that the Registrar Pramod Kumar and the University Vice Chancellor Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar take moral responsibility for their failure to guarantee the safety of their students and faculty. Such a total breakdown in campus safety is unconscionable.
- We demand prompt medical aid to those injured.
- We demand a fair and impartial inquiry into the events of January 5 that will hold the perpetrators of the attack accountable.
We stand in solidarity with our colleagues, students and faculty at JNU.
Below are names of some prominent people who have signed the statement. Click here for the full list.
- Jinee Lokaneeta, Professor, Drew University
- Bhavani Raman, Associate Professor, University of Toronto
- Gopal Guru, Former Professor, JNU, Editor, EPW
- Arjun Appadurai, Professor, New York University and Hertie School (Berlin)
- Veena Das, Professor, Johns Hopkins University
- David Harvey, Distinguished Professor, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York
- G N Devy, Chairman, People’s Linguistic Survey of India
- Faisal Devji, Professor of Indian History, University of Oxford
- Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Distinguished Professor, Syracuse University
- Joan Scott, Professor Emerita School of Social Science Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
- Natalie Zemon Davis, Professor of History Emeritus, Princeton University
- Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, Professor, New York University
- Chayanika Shah, Member, LABIA – A Queer Feminist LBT Collective Mumbai
- Geeta Seshu, Joint Founder-Editor, Free Speech Collective
- Nandita Haksar, Advocate and Writer
- Romila Thapar, Professor Emerita, Jawaharlal Nehru University
- Akeel Bilgrami, Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University
- Alladi Sitaram, Professor (Retd.), Indian Statistical Institute
- Soni Sori, Activist, Bastar
- Nirjhari Sinha, Chairperson Jan Sangharsh Manch, Ahmedabad
- Rajesh Mahapatra Journalist
- Shabnam Hashmi, Founding Trustee, Anhad
- Ali Kazimi, Filmmaker and Associate Professor, York University, Canada
- V. Geetha, Independent Scholar
- Sugato Bose, Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs, Harvard University
- Prof. C. Lakshmanan, Dalit Intellectual Collective
- Saheli- Women’s Resource Centre, Autonomous Women’s Group
- Anand Patwardhan, Filmmaker
- Rinaldo Walcott, Professor, University of Toronto
- Utsa Patnaik, Professor Emeritus, JNU
- Dolly Kikon, Faculty. The University of Melbourne
- Anjali Monteiro, Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
- Tarun Bhartiya, Raiot Collective
- Partha Chatterjee, Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University
- Jodi Dean, Professor, Hobart-William Smith
- Prabhat Patnaik, Professor Emeritus, JNU.
- Premesh Lalu, Professor, Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape
- Jayant Kripalani, Writer Actor
- Francis Cody, Associate Professor, University of Toronto
- Ujjwal Kumar Singh, University of Delhi
- Chinnaiah Jangam, Associate Professor, Carleton University, ON, Canada
- Rohan D’Souza, Associate Professor, Kyoto University
- Sangay Mishra, Assistant Professor, Drew University
- Malavika Kasturi, Department of History, University of Toronto
- Dr Subir Sinha, SOAS, London
- Aparna Balachandran, University of Delhi
- Ruchi Chaturvedi,Senior Lecturer, University of Cape Town
- Deborah Sutton, Lancaster University
- Avinash K Jha, SRCC, DU
- Nandini Bhattacharya, University of Dundee
- Rochelle Pinto, Fellow, L’Institut d’Études Avancées
- Mira Kamdar, Author
- Deepak Mehta, Professor, Ashoka University
- Sudipta Kaviraj, Professor, Columbia University
- Prof. T. Dharmaraj Professor and Head, Madurai Kamaraj University
- Reena Mohan, Filmmaker
- U. Sabasiva Rao, Desi Disa , Bahul Bahujan voice
- Shuddhabrata Sengupta Artist, Writer, Raqs Media Collective
- Zoya Hasan , Professor Emerita, JNU
- Deba Ranjan, Ganatantrik Adhikar Surakhya Sangthan, Odisha
- Aienla Ozukum Publishing Director, Aleph Book Company
- Seema Chishti, Journalist
- Barbara Harriss-White, Visiting Prof CIS&LS JNU and Wolfson College Oxford University
- Zillah Eisenstein, Prof Emerita, Ithaca College, NY, USA
- Caren Kaplan, Professor Emerita, UC Davis
- Shromona Mandal NYU Asian American Political Activism Coalition
- Ambarish Rai, National Convener, Right to Education Forum
- Priyamvada Gopal, University of Cambridge
- Mary E John, Professor, CWDS
- Vivek Shanbhag, Writer
- Tejaswini Niranjana, Professor, Lingnan University Hong Kong
- Geeta Kapur, Art Critic
- Neeladri Bhattacharya, Former Professor, CHS, JNU
- Rajeev Bhargava, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies
- Mimi Choudhury, Independent publisher
- Sarbari Sinha, Deputy Editor Frontline
- Gyan Prakash , Professor, Princeton University
- Ania Loomba, Professor University of Pennsylvania
- Chandler Davis, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto
- J Devika, Professor, Centre for Development Studies.
- Satya P Mohanty, Professor, Cornell University
- Keval Arora, Teacher, Delhi University
- Nityanand Jayaraman, Writer, Social Activist, Chennai
- Adrija Roychowdhury, Reporter, Hindustan times
- Aditi Nigam, Journalist
- Christopher Pinney, Professor UCL and GIAN lecturer at JNU
- Imran Khan, Artist, Theatre I Entertainment Trust
- Veena Bakshi, Director, Film Industry
- Bedabrata Pain, film-maker and ex-NASA scientist
- Usuf Chikte, Emeritus Professor, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
- Ajantha Subramanian, Harvard University
- Farzana Doctor, Author
- T. Jayaraman, Professor, School of Habitat Studies
- Tariq islam, Former Elected Member Executive Council and Member Academic Council, Court, Former Chairman and Professor in Philosophy, AMU, Aligarh
- R Vijaya Sankar, Editor, Frontline
- Tapati Guha-Thakurta, Professor in History (retired), Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta
- Abhijit Roy, Professor, Department of Film Studies, Jadavpur University
- Paranjoy Guha Thakurta , Journalist, Author, Publisher, Documentary Film-maker and Teacher
- Mahesh Rangarajan, Professor, Ashoka University
- Srinath Raghavan, Professor, Ashoka University
- Shabnam Minwalla, Writer
- Annie Zaidi, Writer/teacher
- Satish Deshpande, Professor, Delhi University
- Purushottam Agrawal, Former Professor, JNU
- Shilpa Phadke, TISS, Mumbai
- Ranabir Chakravarti, Retired Professor, Centre for Historical Studies, JNU
- Ashish Awasthi, Vice president PUCL Lucknow
- Anita Dube, Artist
- Priyanka Basu, Curator, The British Library
- Hugo Gorringe, University of Edinburgh
- Pratap Raychaudhuri, Professor, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
- Poulomi Saha, Professor, UC Berkeley
- Brian Larkin, Professor, Barnard College, Columbia University
- Batul Mukhtiar, Filmmaker
- Pritam Singh, Visiting Scholar Wolfson College University of Oxford and Professor Emeritus Oxford Brookes Business School
- MP Ahirwar, Professor of Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology, BHU
- Amrita Chhachhi, Associate Professor International Institute of Social Studies
- M Madhav Prasad, EFL University
- Madhavan K. Palat, Professor, Former Dean of the School of Social Sciences, JNU
- Vivek Dhareshwar, Scholar-in-Residence, Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology
- K Srilata, Poet and Professor, IIT Madras
- Veena Naregal, Professor, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi
- Carin Runciman, Associate Professor, University of Johannesburg
- Kama Maclean, Professor, University of NSW
- William Gould, Professor of Indian History, University of Leeds
- Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee, Poet and writer.
- Pushpamala N, Artist, Bangalore
- Jayati Sarkar, Professor, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai, India
- Constance Penley, Professor, University of California-Santa Barbara
- Amman Madan, Professor, Azim Premji University
- MMP SINGH , Editor , Naya Path, General Secretary, Janwadi Lekhak Sangh & former DUTA president
- Karuna Mantena, Professor of Political Science, Columbia University
- Shail Mayaram, Professor, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies
- Tom Tomlinson, Emeritus Professor, SOAS, London
- Lalit Vachani, Filmmaker, University of Göttingen
- Surabhi Ranganathan, Senior Lecturer, University of Cambridge
- David Gordon White , Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
- Rahul Mukherji, Professor, South Asia Institute, Heidelberg
- Uttara Ramaswamy, The Tribune, Chandigarh
- Thierry Di Costanzo, University of Strasbourg, France
- Shannon Wells-Lassagne, Professor, Université de Bourgogne-Franche Comté
- Sarah Bracke, Professor of Sociology, University of Amsterdam
- Boddu Bhaskar, Senior Journalist , Hyderabad
- Jane Buckingham, Associate Professor of History, University of Canterbury, NZ
- David Petts, Associate Professor, Durham University , UK
- Christian Gutleben, Professor, Université Côte d’Azur, France
- Smarika Lulz, Humboldt University, Berlin
- Monique De Mattia-Viviès, Professor, Air Marseille University
- Françoise Dupeyron-Lafay, Professor, Université Paris est Créteil
- Bordet Geneviève, Senior Lecturer Université de Paris
- Benjamin Nolan, UMass, Amherst
- Chris Moffat, Lecturer, Queen Mary University of London
- Ian Cook, Professor, Exeter University
- Marysia Zalewski, Professor, Cardiff University, Wales, UK
- Henriette Gunkel, Professor, Ruhr-University Bochum
- Irfan Ahmad, Prof. Max Planck Institute for Religious & Ethnic Diversity, Gottingen, Germany
- Dr Helen Pritchard, Lecturer, Goldsmiths University of London
- Dr. Ellen Berry, Editor, Rhizomes:Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge
- Lars Peter Laamann, Senior Lecturer, SOAS (University of London)
- Brian Hatcher, Tufts University
- Rochona Majumdar, Associate Professor, University of Chicago
- Susan S. Bean, Emerita Senior Curator of Southern Asian Art, Peabody Essex Museum
- Moulinath Banerjee, Professor of Statistics, University of Michigan
- Maria Fernandez , Political Scientist, UCM (Madrid) & University of London (Refugee Protection & Forced Migration Studies)
- Joan Martinez-Alier, Professor, Autonomous University of Barcelona (Catalonia / Spain)
- Richard Fung Professor Emeritus, OCAD University, Toronto
- Isabel Huacuja Aonso, Assistant Professor, South Asian History Cal State San Bernardino
- Patricia Simonson, Associate Professor, Universidad Nacional de Colombi
- John Greyson, Professor, York University
- Sergio Villamayor, Ramon y Cajal Fellow, Autonomous University of Barcelona
- Siobhan Lambert-Hurley, Professor, University of Sheffield
- Clara Han, Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins University
- Alexandra Poulain, Professor of Postcolonial Studies, Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris (France)
- Daniel Morgan, Associate Professor, University of Chicago
- José-Manuel Barreto, Lecturer, University of the Andes, Bogotá
- Miles Larmer, Professor of African History, University of Oxford
- Tyler Williams, Assistant Professor, University of Chicago
- Shrenik Rao, Editor, The Madras Courier
- Shivani Tibrewala, Writer | Director, No License Yet
- Pascale Amiot, Professor, University of Perpignan, France
- William Mazzarella, Professor, University of Chicago