Even if you've never been to JNU, chances are you might know it as a university where 'intellectuals' study. However, of late, the university has been in the news for all the wrong reasons.
It has been accused of harbouring 'anti-national' elements who'd been wasting the tax payer's money.
For years, JNU had been an embodiment of how India ideally should've been; a place where different opinions (no matter how polarised) were respected and existed in perfect harmony.
A place where a debate was countered with a debate, an argument with an argument.
But all that changed on the night of February 9 when a meeting was called to protest the judicial killing of Afzal Guru & Maqbool Bhat.
What was supposed to be a peaceful gathering that involved poetry recital and an art exhibition, snowballed into a national crisis when ABVP allegedly intervened. A crisis, that lead to sedition charges being pressed against JNU Students Union President Kanhaiya Kumar & lawyers taking the law into their own hands under the guise of 'janakrosh'.
I DON'T support anti-Indian slogans.
I DON'T sympathise with Afzal Guru.
I DON'T support anybody who poses a threat to the nation's integrity and unity.
But I also DON'T support how the entire issue is being handled. I DON'T support lawyers thrashing Kanhaiya Kumar outside Patiala Court.
I DON'T support the media trials.
And I definitely DON'T support BJP MLA OP Sharma ruthlessly beating CPI leader Ameeque Jamai.
We need to ask ourselves some serious questions.
Did the students at JNU really cross the line?
Or have we as a nation become used to getting our thoughts and beliefs dictated?
So much so, that the students exercising their basic right to express themselves and differ from popular belief came across as an aberration.
Nobody is supporting the 'Pakistan Zindabad' slogans. At least I'm not. But there are a lot of people out there who sincerely believe that Afzal Guru didn't get a fair trial.
And while I have the right to disagree with them, and tell them that no, he did get a fair chance considering his role in the Parliament attacks, they too have an equal right to disagree with me and tell me that he didn't.
All I can do is have a debate with them using relevant points. I can try to convince them about the way I think. If they agree, well and good. If they don't, that's fine too.
Because that's the essence of a democracy. It allows you to disagree.
But we absolutely hate it when somebody disagrees with us. You're either with us, or against us, right? Have our ideologies become so weak that we feel threatened by even the faintest voice of dissent?
Well, they must have, since we allow anybody in a nice suit, who screams and shouts at his panel members, and who takes special pride in 'shutting down' anybody who dares to disagree with him without giving him/her a chance to open his/her mouth, to overwrite our beliefs every night.
It's funny how when they ask us for votes, they treat us like the most intelligent beings on the planet. We know everything.
Then how come when they come to power, they stop listening to us? Why is our right to disagree taken as a threat to national security?
The 'unknown people' who'd raised slogans of 'Pakistan Zindabad' haven't been caught.
Kanhaiya Kumar never said anything against the country. On the contrary, he'd said that he'd never support anybody who went against the country. There's proof right here. Yet he was taken into custody. What does that say about our judicial system?
The people who asks questions are never a threat to the country.
The people who suppress those questions are.
So while I might be a staunch BJP supporter, I might not agree with every action that the government takes.
Just like the 3 ABVP members of the JNU wing who quit in the wake of the JNU crisis saying that 'while they'll never tolerate anti-national slogans, what's happening is hooliganism and not nationalism.'
You might hate someone's slogans. You might hate their ideology. You might even hate the person for expressing their opinion. That's perfectly okay.
Just don't get violent about it. Otherwise, every random religious fundamentalist can claim that what you said has hurt their sentiment and take you to court for it. And as a nationalist, I can't see that happening to my country.
Agree with me? Good. Don't agree with me? Even better. Let's give each other the right to disagree. Let's begin with this article itself.