We shall fight, We shall win!
Bhagat Singh Ambedkar Students Organisation
Our campus for the past few months witnessed an unprecedented attack by the Brahmanical fascist forces. For some, it was the first time to witness what witch-hunt really means. For some, it was the first time that we were confronted with the horrors of a lynch-mob baying for blood. For many of us, it was the first time that we encountered the vulgarity and viciousness of media-trial and the power of lies. But, then there were many other first times too. First time of being enthralled and emboldened by the massive support from democratic sections across the world. First time to see such historic and unprecedented scenes of teachers and students marching, singing, sloganeering, fasting together against the witch-hunt.
However, alongside, this has also been an occasion for many of us to realize and reflect probably for the first time, that for the oppressed millions in this country – the Muslims, Dalits, Adivasis, women Kashmiris, people from the north-east – many of these experiences are everyday realities – a part and parcel of their lives and many a time their deaths. And above all, it is this realization of the movement that makes it more than just a struggle against certain police cases, an enquiry committee or punishments against certain individuals. For many of us for the first time this movement has broadened the idea of the multifarious assaults we face. At the same time it has also widened the spectrum of resistance that we find ourselves a part of.
Right since the 9th of February and the subsequent arrests, till the 10th Day of the Indefinite Hunger Strike which we are going to enter today, this assault has never been about some individuals. It was a coordinated assault of the Brahmanical Hindutva fascist state machinery upon those spaces, those voices who still dare to question, challenge and rebel against the powers that be. The Organizer (mouthpiece of the RSS) had identified JNU and had started building the slanderous hate-profiling of this campus a year back. The intent was, and continues to be to destroy every democratic space so painstakingly built over the years that teaches us to break status quos and to speak truth to power. So, the fight back today is also not about some individuals, some fines, some rustications/evictions, or some out of bound orders. The fight back today is about whether we would defend or expand this democratic space or no; the fight back today is about whether we would retain our right to dissent or no.
By no means are we fighting this battle alone. As we know, today campuses across the country have been turned into battlegrounds wherein ideological challenges are no longer debated, contested or tolerated; but crushed with force. The jackboots of CRPF, the batons of the police, the jail lock-ups and draconian laws are being generously put to use to silence difficult questions and promote obedience. Much before the mayhem of “nationalism” unfolded in JNU, we had seen the script being played out in HCU, FTII, IIT (Madras), Allahabad and so on. Rohith for instance committed the dangerously volatile “crime” of connecting the concerns of the oppressed Dalits with the concerns of another oppressed community – the Muslims. Such “crimes” could not be tolerated and hence he was institutionally murdered under the express orders of the RSS/BJP/MHRD. Whether in HCU or in JNU, or anywhere else, such are the times, that if one speaks up against Brahmanism or speaks for annihilation of caste, one is termed a “casteist”. If one speaks up against planned pogroms like Muzaffarnagar, Hindutva terror and communalism, one is termed “communal”. If one speaks up for justice, against oppression, persecution, exploitation, one is termed “anti-national”.
The state is using the trident of Brahmanism, saffronization and privatization to scuttle social justice, to spread communal venom, and to destroy whatever remains of the public institutions in order to turn education more and more into a commodity with a price tag. What had been set rolling by the erstwhile UPA governments to turn higher education into a profit-making venture is being carried forward today with renewed vigour by the NDA. We must not forget that the Lyngdoh Committee Recommendations a brainchild of the Birla-Ambani Report brought to force by the UPA had the of curtailing “unnecessary politicization” that was seen as the biggest impediment to their agenda of privatization and commercialization.
The present regime is of course more ruthless in implementing this neo-liberal agenda. And hence its desperate bid to brow beat (or even beat) every contrary voice. The attempts to get rid of Non-NET Fellowships; the saffron carpet being laid out to foreign universities; the thrust towards SEZ-like campus models wherein no laws of the land including reservation would apply; the moves towards loan-based education; the whooping fee hikes like the ones in IIT (90,000 to 2 lakh rupees); the brahmanical agenda of discrimination being pushed in admissions & appointments; the saffron appointments from ICHR to FTII to HCU, JNU and so on; – are all moves directed towards making access to education far more restrictive (in the hands of dominant caste and class) than it already is.
In the rising tide of students spring, none of these moves are going unchallenged. Starting from FTII to Allahabad, from IIT Madras to Jadavpur, from Chandigarh to Patna, from EFLU to TISS, from HCU to JNU – campuses are turning into battlegrounds wherein students are putting up a stiff resistance to each of these moves. The fight for Rohith Act and justice for Rohith, the struggle for removal of Gajendra Chauhan or Appa Rao, the Occupy UGC struggle, and the present JNUSU’s Indefinite Hunger Strike against the government-administration witch-hunt of students are all bits and pieces of the same struggle.
If campuses are turning into battle-zones, it is only symptomatic of the war that wages outside in the society at large. The farmers today are faced with a human-made crisis being called ‘famine’ and are being pushed towards a staggering rate of suicides. Through the farce called ‘Make in India’, the workers of the country are being steadily dehumanized in the name of “reforms” and curtailment of labour laws. The mounting assault on Dalits – in terms of their material well-being and dignity, their persecution, discrimination as well as physical violence are only on the rise. The women and other oppressed genders today are at the receiving end of a renewed vigour of state sanctioned violence, patriarchal control and moral policing. The Hindutva fascist agenda of creating the Muslim “other” dovetailing the imperialist agenda of “war on terror” has meant – persecution, humiliation, witch-hunt, branding, terror, rape, arson, pogroms, and denial of justice for the Muslim minorities.
There is a renewed spate of repression as well as resistance in the oppressed nationalities (Kashmir and North East) as the attempts to crush their struggles for right to self-determination is only going to get more bloody under the oppressor’s jackboots. Today, under the Modi-Raman Singh-Kalluri combine, the Indian state has intensified the all out war on adivasis codenamed Operation Greenhunt, started by the previous UPA and its new Mission 2016 in Bastar only entails more fake encounters, razing down of entire villages, sexual violence, corporate loot and silencing all voices of dissent. So, as we can see, there are several fronts in this war that looms large in the society, that ails the society that today jails the society behind the bars of oppression and exploitation. It is onto us whether we choose our sides categorically in this war, or not.
As Bhagat Singh prophetically said in his last petition, “Let us declare that the state of war does exist and shall exist so long as the Indian toiling masses and the natural resources are being exploited by a handful of parasites. They may be purely British Capitalist or mixed British and Indian or even purely Indian…The war shall continue.”
As to how long shall this war continue, Ambedkar while presenting the Constitution had an answer. He said, with the adoption of the Constitution, “we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality…How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life?”
So, as long as this contradiction exists between notional equality and real equality, between notional democracy and real democracy – the war will not, and must not cease to exist. We believe, the fight for real democracy can only be fought by adopting in our revolutionary praxis Ambedkar’s vision of Annihilation of Caste & Bhagat Singh’s idea of Revolutionary Social Transformation. We believe, we are required to shun the narrow, deterministic, and faulty conception of class struggle wherein other democratic struggles whether against caste or patriarchy are seen as obstacles/diversions from the “real” struggle. Rather, we must consider the struggle against patriarchy, the struggle against Brahmanism in our society as very much integral to the process of class struggle, as part of the struggle for real democracy, for revolution. Today, as we are faced with an unprecedented fascist attack, we need to understand that at the core of fascism in our country lies oppression on the basis of caste and patriarchy. And this monster of caste, patriarchy, Hindutva fascism, and imperialist onslaught cannot simply be voted out of power through opportunistic alliances, permutations and combinations. We need to fight and defeat these forces on the ground through uncompromising struggles by striking at their very social basis. Today, the radical ideas of Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar, assume immense significance for us to understand and fight back these attacks.
Bhagat Singh Ambedkar Students’ Organisation will strive to take forward radical politics in this campus and outside. As an immediate task, we are faced with the challenge of resisting the witch-hunt of students by the JNU administration acting as the loyal puppet of the sangh. We appeal to all students to actively strengthen the ongoing movement and the Indefinite Hunger Strike which is going to enter its 10th Day today.
Even as the health of our comrades continues to deteriorate with many, including the JNUSU President, hospitalized, the JNU administration remains unmoved. It is instead issuing threats to the students and calling our movement unlawful. We need to intensify the struggle in the days to come. If we pay up today, if we accept the punishments today, if we compromise today, it would mean admission of “guilt” on our part. And with that a dangerous precedent would be set to criminalize any and every form of dissent in the coming days and take any arbitrary action, any authoritarian step to curb progressive democratic politics. We have committed no crime, and hence there can be no punishment. We must fight back!