If there is a place in India where JNU students have found an uncritical, wholehearted support it is Kashmir Valley. The videos of the Afzal Guru event which triggered the controversy have gone viral and the JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar has become a hero.
“A proud moment for Kashmir to express solidarity with the students, scholars and professors of JNU and Jadavpur University, who dared to raise a voice in favour of resistance, truth, and self-determination of Kashmiris,” Gowher Geelani, a columnist, posted on Facebook. “These courageous and truthful sons and daughters of India, though not many in number, deserve Kashmir’s solidarity”
“At a crucial juncture when the fascist regime is, by design, hellbent on moulding the narrative and casting it anew, the sensible people are duty bound to resist it,” wrote G U Wani. “JNU is vigorously withstanding the pressure of being pushed to wall”.
Similarly, Dr Nyla Ali Khan, a US based Kashmiri academic also expressed her disappointment at the state of affairs. “The process of nation-building is messier than some of us thought it was,” she wrote in a post. “Sloganeering is not a sufficient condition for successful nation-building”.
Interestingly, along with Kanhaiya Kumar’s speech, the speech of JNU Vice President Shehla Rashid, a Kashmiri, has also gone viral. “They ask us what do you want azadi from, what type of azadi do you want,” Shehla says in her speech. “Today we will define this azadi … this entire country wants azadi from WTO, from casteism, from discriminatory laws”.
Shehla hails from the Haba Kadal locality of the downtown Srinagar, the hub of the political turmoil of the past 25 years. She went to JNU after finishing her engineering and management courses from National Institute of Technology and Indian Institute of Management Bangalore. An engineer-turned-activist, she has worked around gender issues, human rights, juvenile justice and the free speech.
In her post on FB , Shehla reaffirmed her commitment to a peaceful march in JNU. If Bajrang Dal or RSS goons pelt stones at us, we will respond with a shower of roses. If they abuse us, we will ignore,” she posted on her FB account. “They will try their best to spoil Kanhaiyya’s case and they will try their best to provoke violence from us. But we will quietly march and not engage in any aggression”.
Independent MLA Engineer Rashid led a march in Srinagar in support of the JNU students. The march which started from Rashid’s residence at Jawahar Nagar was stopped near the Abdullah Bridge. The MLA was detained and taken to Rajbagh police station. The protesters dispersed peacefully.
On the other hand, activists of National Panthers Student Union (NPSU) tried to disrupt classes in Jammu University during a protest over the JNU row and sought slapping of sedition charges on the culprits. The students raised slogans of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’, ‘Azad Hindustan Zindabad’ and barged into classrooms urging the students to boycott classes.
What major J&K politicians said
Former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah
“If the Delhi Police and the home ministry want to unleash a dictatorial and tyrannical crackdown on dissenting voices and students in Delhi, they should not make Kashmiri students convenient scapegoats, stigmatize them and ruin their careers. This is unacceptable,” Omar said
Engineer Abdur Rashid, Independent Legislator :
“Whatsoever is happening from JNU campus to Delhi’s Courts should act as an eye opener for all those who have been branding Kashmiris as anti-nationals and traitors only for the reason that they seek resolution to Kashmir issue. Let the ultra-nationalist forces understand that they should give up arrogance and ask GoI to resolve Kashmir dispute before it is too late.”
J&K Congress in a joint statement :
“BJP was bringing a dangerous political culture in the country by unleashing its hoodlums, the statement said while condemning the attack on its leader Anand Sharma on the JNU campus.
PDP has so far maintained silence on the JNU event and its fallout.