It is more than a week since anti-India slogans rang out in the campus of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).
Mind you, I said anti-India.
There is a difference between anti-India and anti-national. For the common man in every nook and corner of the country, the nationalistic pride is enough to brainwash any intellectual capacity to see the argument in the light it should be seen. Those who see the pain of Kashmir as separate from India are being branded as anti-national.
It is also naive to assume that the young generation is being carried away or a front for the Left-sponsored ideology that also happens to breed the cause for Kashmir or Freedom of Speech in general.
There have been valid arguments about the university campuses being incubators for the youth to debate, delve and develop on a nation and make it stronger. Just like the country president Pranab Mukherjee asked: rebel and complain.
Having said that, I must stress repeatedly, I am not in favour of the JNU students. My personal views on that will mean digressing from the issue here.
It is also clear that the situation at JNU and the whole circumstances before in other universities are not flashpoints on their own but a festering clash of left and right-wing philosophies.
What is a bigger worry is the continued self-goals that the BJP-dominated government continues to make as well as a biased Law & Order apparatus.
The media getting thrashed by lawyers may be a sideshow. But there are a few pertinent questions to be asked. But before that, few points to recap:
In this world of prying mobile phones and television, the words that rang out from JNU campus on that evening on February 9 and reverberate:
“Afzal hum sharminda hain, tere katil zinda hain”
“Bharat tere tukde honge – Insha Allah Insha Allah”
“Hum kya chaahte? Azaadi!”
Before one feels the anger boil within, it was important, especially for mainstream media, to understand what happened that evening from neutral sources.
Says a eyewitness Harshit Agarwal on the public info-sharing portal Quora: “When the permission to host the event was denied, the organisers gathered at the dhaba outside. Just when the event was to start, a group of Kashmiri students came from outside. They were not JNU students.”
Rewind back to a few days when Home Minister announced a crackdown on the #JNU row because Pakistan terror mastermind Hafiz Sayyed had tweeted support. It was a fake account that was created to post that tweet and then deactivated.
So, Question 1: Was it that difficult to track down the actual people in the centre of that gathering who shouted those slogans, and give them a face and name to their identities?
Question 2: What was the provocation for the lawyers and why they acted in a planned way as they did when there was no stake in the controversy for them?
Related is a question on how to discern a practicing lawyer and a mobster with black coats. That is important if we are to give the benefit of doubt to the JNU students, that it was not they but others (Kashmiris / ABVP?) who spoke the offensive words.
Question 3: With all the technology to track down cyber crimes, is it that difficult to trace where the fake Twitter account was created and by whom?
No it is not, and surely intelligence agencies must have been on it. Since nothing has come out in the public domain, Question 4: Given their track record, did the state machinery rig up some purported evidence and circumstance to add oil into the fire?
Atleast one has not seen these being asked. What has come out in public domain by certain media organisations though only is that the charge of sedition does not hold on the student leader Kanhaiya Kumar and the video of his speech.
Given the biased nature by the MSM, who are in any case ignorant of journalistic ethics and mechanisms, is it still too much ask from other media organisations – and there are plenty who are still doing their dutiful diligence – to get pointed answers.
That is a bigger worry than the agenda of the Sanghis and right-wing pseudo-nationalists.
Meanwhile, the rest of the media is busy agitating their right to report and investigate after the roughing up of few brethren; the country reacts in knee-jerk fashion and a political circus drums up another thunderstorm.
And meanwhile, channels like TimesNow and the BJP-driven Zee News continue to spread the moral panic, a term mooted by a scholar on the Hoot.
PS: This article is updated on February 17 after the second gathering in Patiala House where the court convened to hear Kanhaiya Kumar’s sedition charge.
If the inept Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi is to be believed, they have identified the actual four people who uttered those words and they are at large. Among the names mentioned is Umar Khalid who was certainly not the ones to chant those words. So is Bassi lying?
That’s another Q for the media.