Statement in Solidarity with the JNU Students by Concerned Academics from West Bengal

We, the undersigned academics, both retired and still in active service, of different colleges, universities, and research centres of West Bengal, are shocked to learn that Jawaharlal Nehru University has variously rusticated and fined several of its students for the events that occurred on the evening of February 9, 2016. The charge levelled against them is that they took part in a rally, commemorating the execution of Afzal Guru on the same date three years ago, and of Maqbul Bhatt even earlier, in which anti-India slogans were allegedly raised. This the University, as much as the police, believed invited the charge of sedition, and several students had indeed been arrested under section 124 of the Indian Penal Code of 1860. The students were later granted bail and now a High Level Committee of the University has enquired and decided on the quantum of punishment to be meted out to them.

We find this painful and absolutely contrary to our understanding of what a university should be. To our mind a university is a place where students are not only offered education in the academic sense, but also where young people mature and mould themselves into full fledged members of the community. A vital part of this process is, or at least should be, that they should learn to think for themselves, and also imbibe the courage to stand by their conviction and understanding of the world around them. We strongly believe that this will be impossible if freedom of speech and thought is denied in university campuses, and only conformism to the state authority is tolerated and even encouraged. We find it incredible that today an old colonial law is invoked to discipline our students. This was the very law that our colonial masters had used to incarcerate our freedom fighters, and it is ludicrous and outright shameful that our present rulers find it so handy.

It is not yet fully established that the accused students had indeed raised such slogans as they are alleged to have done. Notwithstanding that, we do not believe that questioning the policies of the state, even if that pertains to cessation of a part of its territory, amounts to sedition, howsoever sedition is defined. In fact, a lot of the legal experts have opined that the alleged slogan shouting, even if it did occur, does not amount to sedition under the laws of the land. Are we not free to question, or condemn our state, if we happen to believe that it has on some account or other acted illegally or immorally? If such freedom is denied, then we conclude, this state has lost its privilege to call itself a republic.

We stand in solidarity with the students of JNU. We urge upon the Vice Chancellor of the University to reject the recommendation of the High Level Committee, and to open a dialogue with his students. This will not tarnish the image of the University, on the contrary, will enhance its prestige.

  1. Abhijit Mazumdar, Siliguri College

  2. Abhijit Roy, Jadavpur University

  3. Aditi Dasgupta

  4. Amit Bhattacharya, Jadavpur University

  5. Amit Dasgupta, Heramba Chandra College

  6. Amlan Dasgupta, Jadavpur University

  7. Anindya Sengupta, Jadavpur University

  8. Anirban Mukherjee, Calcutta University

  9. Anjan Chakrabarti, Calcutta University

  10. Anup K. Sinha, Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta

  11. Anuradha Roy, Jadavpur University

  12. Arabinda Bhattacharya, Calcutta University

  13. Arijita Dutta, Calcutta University

  14. Arun Hota, West Bengal State University

  15. Arunabha Adhikari, West Bengal State University

  16. Atig Ghosh, Visva Bharati

  17. Avishek Konar, Observer Research Foundation, Calcutta

  18. Bidhan Das, Institute of Development Studies Kolkata

  19. Bijoya Goswami, Jadavpur University

  20. Debashish Goswami, Indian Statistical Institute

  21. Dulali Nag, Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management

  22. Gopa Mukherjee, Gurudas College

  23. Gorkey  Chakraborty, Institute of Development Studies Kolkata 

  24. Janabrata Sil, Retd. Calcutta University

  25. Keya Dasgupta, Retd. Centre for Studies in Social Sciences Calcutta

  26. Kumarjit Mandal, Calcutta University

  27. Kunal Chattopadhyay, Jadavpur University

  28. M.P. Terence Samuel, Visva Bharati

  29. Madhabi Chatterjee, Maheshtala College

  30. Madhumati Dutta, Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology

  31. Mahalaya Chatterjee, Calcutta University

  32. Maidul Islam, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences Calcutta

  33. Manabi Majumdar, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences Calcutta

  34. Manas Joardar, Retd. Calcutta University

  35. Manas Maity, Visva Bharati

  36. Maroona Murmu, Jadavpur University

  37. Mausumi Manna, Scottish Church College

  38. Mrityunjay Prabhakar, Visva Bharati

  39. Nandini Bhattacharya, Calcutta Girls’ College

  40. Nandini Ghosh, Institute of Development Studies Kolkata

  41. Nilanjana Gupta, Jadavpur University

  42. P.K.Sarkar, Retd. Medical College

  43. Parimal Ghosh, Retd. Calcutta University

  44. Partha Chakrabarti, Indian Institute of Chemical Biology

  45. Partha Majumdar, Ramkrishna Mission Vivekananda University

  46. Parthiba Basu, Calcutta University

  47. Partho Sarothi Ray, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata

  48. Prabir Bhattacharyya, Retd. Ram Krishna Mission Bidyamandira

  49. Prabrit Dasmohapatra, Calcutta University

  50. Pranab Kanti Basu, Visva Bharati

  51. Pranab Sarkar, Visva Bharati

  52. Priya Sangameswaran, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences Calcutta

  53. Probal Dasgupta, Indian Statistical Institute

  54. Purusottam Bhattacharya, Retd. Jadavpur University

  55. Rabin Chakraborty, Retd. Calcutta University

  56. Raghabendra Chattopadhyay, Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta

  57. Rajarshi Ghose,Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta

  58. Rajib Chaudhury, St. Xavier’s College

  59. Rosinka Chaudhuri, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta

  60. Ruma Chatterjee, Retd. Kidderpore College

  61. Sabyasachi Chattopadhyay, Kalyani University

  62. Samantak Das, Jadavpur University

  63. Samir Karmakar, Jadavpur University

  64. Sanchayan Ghosh, Visva Bharati

  65. Sanjay Kumar Saha, Jadavpur University

  66. Sanjeeb Mukherjee, Retd. Calcutta University

  67. Sarbajaya Bhattacharya, Kidderpore College

  68. Sarbani Bandyopadhyay, St.Xavier’s College

  69. Sarmila Bannerjee, Calcutta University

  70. Saumya Chakraborti, Visva Bharati

  71. Shobanlal Dattagupta, Retd. Calcutta University

  72. Subhanil Chowdhury, Institute of Development Studies Kolkata

  73. Shyamalendu Chatterjee, Chittaranjan College

  74. Silanjan Bhattacharya, West Bengal State University

  75. Sipra Mukherjee, West Bengal State University

  76. Soma Marik, RKSM Vivekananda Vidyabhavan

  77. Soumyen Sikdar, Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta

  78. Soumik Nandy Majumdar, Visva Bharati

  79. Subhamita Chaudhuri, West Bengal State University

  80. Subhendu Dasgupta, Retd. Calcutta University

  81. Subrata Sarkar, Retd. College of Nursing, R.G. Kar Medical College

  82. Suchetana Chattopadhyay, Jadavpur University

  83. Sudeshna Banerjee, Jadavpur University

  84. Sujato Bhadra, Narasingha Dutta College

  85. Sukanta Bhattacharya, Calcutta University

  86. Sukanta Das, Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology

  87. Sumana Bandyopadhyay, Calcutta University

  88. Suparna Bhattacharya, Retd. Vidyasagar College for Women

  89. Suranjan Chatterjee, Retd. Shovarani Memorial College

  90. Surasri Chaudhuri, Thakurpukur College

  91. Sutanu Bhattacharya, Kalyani University

  92. Sweta Ghosh, Retd. St. Xavier’s College

  93. Tapan Chakraborty, Indian Statistical Institute

  94. Tanweer Alam Mazhari, Ram Krishna Mission Bidyamandira

  95. Tilottama Mukherjee, Jadavpur University

  96. Utsa Ray, Jadavpur University

  97. Uttam Bhattacharya, Institute of Development Studies Kolkata

  98. Uttama Ray, Rammohan College


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