HYDERABAD: If Jawaharlal Nehru University is not safe to air your opinions where else can you do it? This is the question being asked across various discussion forums of professors and JNU alumni.
Culture of universities is predominantly free speech, debates and discussions on diverse views, albeit in a peaceful manner. Attack on students and teachers is an attack on this culture of free speech, say professors, who are concerned at the increasing politicisation in university campuses.
Though solidarity has been pouring in from all corners, the moot question remains as to why the anti-social elements attacked and how could they enter the campus.
Professor Abdul Kalam, ex-professor of JNU who is now with MANUU says, “The culture of JNU is that of debate and discussion. At every point in the campus, there are divergent opinions and that is the spirit of JNU campus. The attack on campus is an attack on their free thinking process and an attempt to curb it. However, this is not going to stop the culture of free thinking. It will only further strengthen it.”
Anger and violence has been witnessed in state universities. But such a thing happening in a prestigious central university in the heart of Delhi has shattered one and all. University students and faculty have demanded immediate identification of culprits and booking of cases against them.
“How were they allowed to go scot free? Why were the streetlights put off,” are some of the questions doing rounds both among educationists and common people as well.
Professor Rekha Pandey of Hyderabad Central University said, “Dissent has always been peaceful inside the campus. It is part of the learning process for students. But what is being witnessed now is increasing politicisation. This has allowed outside elements to interfere in university affairs. Students have become punching bags for these anti-social elements. They come from outside, create havoc on the campus and students get blamed for it. It is the student body, which is bearing the brunt. This aspect needs to be addressed objectively,” she underlined.
There is anger and condemnation all across. But there is also fear that there will be repercussions deep within the community. Irrespective of religion, caste or creed, people have been shaken by violence inside the campus.
Parents have been calling proctors across universities to check on the safety aspects for students. Proctors are also responding over phones and emails and pacifying parents that they are in charge and due measures are being taken.
A proctor with a state university explained, “University campus is considered safe. But the JNU violence has shaken faith. There is now doubt in minds of parents and this will harm educational institutes across the country. Measures need to be taken for safety and security.”
The worst fears weighing on professors is the attack on girl’s hostel in Jawaharlal Nehru University. Professor Vinod Pavarala of the University of Hyderabad says, “It has taken a lot for parents to send their daughters to universities. They came to believe universities are safe and women’s safety is a priority inside the campus. The attack on JNU girls’ hostel has negated this hard work.”...