The police crackdown on JNU students has brought many of the university’s teachers and students together as they protest against the charges of sedition against students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar. But not all the teachers of the university are backing the ongoing agitation in the university campus.
“There’s an alternate opinion of many teachers against what’s happening in JNU,” Dr. Sudhir Kumar, Associate Professor at JNU’s Special Centre for Sanskrit Studies told ScoopWhoop
“This is the first time India has been abused in JNU and vows to destroy the country have been shouted openly on the campus. We totally disagree with kind of line JNUTA has taken on this whole issue. They don’t represent our point of view,” Kumar said.
When asked about the police action so far, Kumar justified it. “The matter [slogan raising] was of such high sensitivity that university’s internal mechanism was not enough to deal with it. That’s why an external agency had to be involved,” he said.
In multiple departments of the university, teachers remain present in their offices and also take classes despite thin attendance. Among those unaffected by the current stand-off are centres of science studies, the law and governance department and language centres like Special Centre for Sanskrit studies.
Several professors of these centres said that they don’t endorse the views of the official body representing teachers: Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers’ Association (JNUTA).
Kumar, who specialises in Vedic literature, also said that while police and university administration are investigating the matter, students and teachers should carry on with their duties of teaching and studying in the university.
According to Kumar, who is also a member of JNUTA, about 500 of JNU’s total faculty of 650 are against the current wave of campus protests. He claims it’s “only a few teachers” who are claiming to be the representatives of the protest.
“Those who want to study have nothing to do with the strike,” Kumar said, pointing to a group of M Phil scholars leaving his office chamber.
Professor Ram Nath Jha from the Sanskrit centre said that his classes are being conducted on and the strike hasn’t held students back from attending.
“We have around 175 students in the centre and classes have been going on continuously. Why should 8000 students suffer for a controversial event?”Jha, who’s one of the nine teachers at centre, said.
Jha said they have expressed their point of view before the JNUTA office bearers in the general body meeting few days ago.
“We told them not to call for a strike and let the administration continue with its inquiry. JNU has a semester of three-and-a-half months and everyday is precious. We don’t want students to lose their time,” he said. Jha, who specialises in Indian Philosophy and Philosophy of Science and has been teaching at JNU for 14 years.
In order to iron out the differences among the faculty members, JNUTA had called for a General Body Meeting of the teachers’ body in which various aspects of the controversy were discussed two days ago.
The teachers opposing the strike had put forth two recommendations before the JNUTA: End the strike, and drop the demand for creating a “representative” internal inquiry committee constituted by the Vice Chancellor to investigate the February 9 incident. The protesting students and JNUTA has opposed the committee since its inception for being “non-representative and unilateral.” They have also refused to appear before the committee, which has to submit its report by February 25.
According to Jha, it’s not just them. The 1500-strong non-teaching staff is also against the strike, he said.
“Why should teachers get involved in this?” he said. “30-40 teachers and several hundred students are claiming JNU is on strike but what about the other thousands of students who are not part of the protests and have come here for studies?”
“We are not against any student, but since law is doing its function and investigations are on, guilty should be punished and innocents should not be bothered, ” he said.
Another vocal opponent of the ongoing strike is professor Amita Singh, who is the head of JNU’s Centre for Law and Governance. According to Singh, the current situation is the result of politics played by members of Communist political parties.
Singh said all the proponents of the strike against Kanhiaya’s arrest were “Communists pampered by Congress during its rule” and by other governments prior to that. She also claimed all the teachers of JNUTA who are backing the strike are members of Communist Party of India and it’s wings.
Contrary to Kumar’s claims, Singh acknowledges the majority of the teachers side with JNUTA and students in the ongoing protests. But, according to her, “many are doing so because of the fear of Communists who hold top positions in the university.”
“We are totally against any change in internal inquiry committee made by the university. It’s a huge conspiracy carried out by Communists and Kashmiri militants to spread a venomous wave of anti-national rhetoric in India,” Singh said.
While backing the university’s decision of allowing the police on the campus, Singh said the university had no other option when the students crossed “all limits on February 9 and defied the law when they observed an anti-national event.” She also said Kanhaiya Kumar was at the”centre” of the “anti-national” event on the third anniversary of Afzal Guru’s hanging on February 9.
The professor said about 100 teachers are in the process of officially announcing their split from JNUTA in coming days.