#Metoo against the State when University is turned into an occupied territory


The present Indian state is treating JNU as an occupied territory. State-sponsored violence and molestation against the students call for a #metoo moment against the state.

Co-Written by Amrita Datta and Arani Basu

A piece of land with people – young and old, vibrant, thinking beings. Police posts in and around the land. Random police raids of homes of these people. Police picking up some of them on false allegations. Sudden disappearance of one of them one day. Groping and molestation of the females from this piece of land by the police in broad day light. Resistance from these people on state exploitation and violence. Police lathi charge on peacefully protesting marches.

No, this piece of land is not India occupied Kashmir, it is not the North-East that Indian state treats like colonies, this piece of land refers to a university – Jawaharlal Nehru University in India’s capital, New Delhi.

JNU has been under attack, for last two years. The Indian state has turned it into an occupied territory from one of the best universities in South Asia and may be in the world, that has produced the finest of the critical and free thinkers. But thinking beings raise questions, uncomfortable, destabilising questions regarding the functioning of the government, regarding the way individuals and communities are treated by the state, regarding state policies that the present Indian government does not like to entertain. But stopping a thinking mind to grow is not an easy task, that even Ray has showed in his classic Hirak Rajar Deshey – the state needs to control the thinkers, brainwash them, if not, then inflict violence upon them.

So when a state systematically and surreptitiously inflicts violence and torture on a land, a community, a territory, what is it called? It is simply termed as state-sponsored violence. This is precisely what we are witnessing in JNU – state-sponsored violence and terror on a university campus in a free country that the present state has turned into an occupied territory.

This entire pre-meditated plan of the state is being operationalized through the latest VC recruited by the current BJP government in JNU – M. Jagadesh Kumar. The VC is ridiculously and systematically ensuring that JNU is deconstructed to the level of C-Grade degree-selling call centres aka most of the ‘private universities’ across the country. It is apparent and visible that his mission is not a discrete act of ego-boosting of a technical guy who understands nothing of social sciences and university-academic cultures. This is not the first time that JNU has a non-social science VC, Mamidala’s predecessor Prof. Sopory, a person from the world of natural sciences is still remembered fondly by JNU’s teachers and students alike.  So this VC’s problem is not about pedagogical differences or lack of institutional vision. It is rather, a simple and dangerous trend of state-mandated spreading of terror in academic institutions.

When Najeeb disappeared from JNU campus, his mother was man-handled several times by the police as she would desperately seek answer from the government, later, fake news were disseminated on social media that he has joined the ISIS. When students lodged FIR against a serial sexual offender impersonating a professor (Atul Johri), one of the complainant’s name was deliberately blurted out on national television by Johri’s lawyer, when students and teachers took to the streets to peacefully march to the parliament in protest of the government’s decision to autonomise academic institutions including JNU, police threw water canon, groped female students at random, lathi charged them. Which part of this entire process does not resemble state-mandated violation of human rights, state-sponsored molestation and attempt to rape?

The BJP government is clear in its agenda to not let a single voice of dissent grow in India. It is already evident that the attack on JNU through Mamidala as the stooge is one of the biggest political agenda of the ruling party. However, the impending doom does not end there. It now has extended to direct physical violence inflicted upon civilians i.e. students by the state i.e. the police force (referring to the police attack on peacefully protesting students on road on 23rd March, 2018). This clearly indicates that the public space i.e. the road is neither safe for JNUs students nor is it for the teachers. It is also a direct violation of fundamental rights of free speech and freedom of expression to assault peaceful protesters. Lastly, this means that while BJP stooges like Atul Johri will continue commenting on female students’ breasts within the campus, Delhi police under the central government will go on tearing their clothes and groping them.

The bigger question is, how does one respond to a #metoo moment against the state? Implicating a sexual predator with full governmental support is not easy. The students protesting against a sexual assaulter were molested and groped by the police in return! Such response against the state can only reinforce rape culture in an already massively conservative society like India. This also implies that the state wants the students, the free thinkers and the intellectuals in JNU and in the rest of the country (read Kashmir and the North East, especially) to stay as sack of potatoes, in Marxian sense of the term, if they ever want the state occupation and state-sponsored terrorism to ease.

Amrita is a JNU alumni. Arani is a former Visiting Fellow at CSSS, JNU.



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