We, the undersigned, are shocked at the police brutality and unleashing of paramilitary forces on peacefully protesting students of JNU on 18 November 2019. The substantial hike in hostel fee is a genuine worry for the students of a residential university. It is appalling that these concerns have been answered by brute force on students, teachers and the press.
JNU has nurtured excellence and offered leadership in various fields precisely because it provides a space in higher education to bright minds, irrespective of their socio-economic backgrounds. Fees is not the only way students contribute to a university and its character. The unique cultural-educational space of JNU has been created by the diversity of its students, who, since its inception, have contributed to the making of it. The overriding of the concerns of students and teachers by administrative authoritarianism smacks of an agenda of cultural destruction of university spaces. Fee hikes, along with models of self-financed and loan-based education, restrict the world of ideas to a coterie who can pay and repay. They change educational spaces into commercial centers and eventually impoverishe cultural, intellectual and academic life. We are concerned at emerging privatisation policies and trends that point towards a dismal future for public funded education. We express solidarity with the students, teachers and other sections struggling to keep education accessible to all, and find public funding of education a well deserved investment of tax payers’ money.
The injuries caused to protesting JNU students is a testimony to the assault on public funded education. We strongly condemn the curbing of dissent by the university administration, the deployment of police and paramilitary forces in and around university campuses, the brutal assault on the protestors and the extreme high handedness with which the government is attacking higher education and opening it up for privatisation.
1. The concerns of all university stakeholders must be taken into account by the administration.
2. Action must be taken against the police personnel who were involved in attacking peaceful protestors, which included a visually challenged student who was beaten and stomped on.
3. There must be an end to the maligning of JNU and its students by an ill informed section of the media who are aligning with politically motivated campaigns for destroying public universities.
4. The government must ensure the cultural health of the future by discontinuing privatisation policies. It must, instead, spend public funds on education to make it accessible and affordable to all.
The signatories can be found here.