Preserve freedom of speech: JNU emeritus professors write to VC
Ten emeritus professors of JNU on Tuesday wrote to Vice-Chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar saying they were disturbed by the curbs on freedom of speech on the campus.
The letter said the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus had always been a space where free speech was allowed and speakers from outside the university were also invited.
“As emeritus professors, we are disturbed by the turn of events at the campus. The university has always been a space where we allowed free discussion of issues raised by students and faculty,” the letter read.
“In the course of such discussion whether in seminars or at other informal gatherings, speakers from both within and from outside the university were invited to participate.”
They also criticised the university administration over the punishment handed out to the students who organised the controversial February 9 event on Kashmir on the campus.
“The current administration has clamped down on the free discussion by imposing severe punishments of fines and rustication on those who organised (the) meeting. This despite the fact that they were arrested and sent to jail,” the letter stated.
The letter also requested the university administration to reconsider its order banning the entry of outsiders in the campus.
JNU Students Union leader Kanhaiya Kumar and 18 other students had gone on a hunger strike from April 28 to protest against the punishment handed out to them by a high-level committee that probed the February 9 event where anti-national slogans were allegedly raised.
Following the event, Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid, and Anirban Bhattacharya were arrested on sedition charges.
The committee report, released on April 25, fined Kanhaiya Kumar Rs.10,000 and rusticated Khalid and Bhattacharya.
Kanhaiya Kumar has since withdrawn from the hunger strike. On day nine on Tuesday, the remaining 14 students continued the hunger strike despite the authorities calling the activity “unlawful”.