An overpowering Left ambience that generally looms over the rock strewn arena called JNU has somehow not been able to allay fears about minority rights taking a nosedive. And, thus, a new group shuns both the Left and Right by inviting Justice Rajinder Sachar to the campus to talk about the issue, writes Abhinav Raj
It is said that the Jawaharlal Nehru University is one of the most politically active campuses in India. Like its most famous canteen located within the premises, namely 24/7, students of JNU are 24/7 prepared to take to streets for social and political cause.
The campus is considered to be a Left bastion which has been quite vocal over social and political issues pertaining to national and international affairs.
In the recently held JNU students union elections, AISA, which has been at the helm of affairs for years could only manage two seats in the central panel losing the post of joint secretary to ABVP’s candidate which had no presence in the central panel in the last 14 years.
Of late, the number of Left political organisations has increased in the premises thereby causing division of votes which makes ABVP the inevitable beneficiary .This point was clinched by the incumbent president of JNUSU, Kanhaiya Kumar from AISF, who was the lone candidate from his political party. The incumbent president had launched scathing attacks on Left parties for failing to combat rightist menace within the campus, and, had accused the left parties of keeping self-aspirations over ideology of Left politics.
However, amid the fierce fight between the Left and the Right, Muslim students of JNU found their issues being overlooked, prompting them to create a non-political group called Youth Forum for Discussion and Welfare Activities.
The objective of the forum is to academically engage in discussions over issues pertaining to Muslims and other marginalised groups like Dalits that are generally sidelined by mainstream media and other liberal forces.
One of the forum members went on to say that the symbolic acts that some parties in JNU have adopted seldom served the purpose of minorities and other marginalised groups. It, somewhere, reflects the same insensitivity which political parties of India have shown towards Muslims and other marginalised groups over the years where a face from a particular community is given ticket in elections and day-to-day problems confronted by these groups are generally ignored.
And, the best part of the story was that they invited former Justice Rajinder Sachar to be the guest speaker at the inaugural public talk. Mr. Sachar is known for his comprehensive report on social, political and educational status of Muslims in India in which he found under representation of Muslims in civil service, police, military and politics. It was a landmark report on Muslims which triggered a debate on the problems Muslims face today.
On October 20, 2015, Rajinder Sachar, the 91-year-old former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, ushered into the Koyna Mess (JNU) amidst a resounding applause by about 600 students, an unprecedented and comparatively high turnout after a long time, sending shockwaves across the rank and file of Left parties ,triggering anticipation of changing political equations.
Justice Sachar expressed strong disapproval of the recent spate of attacks on Muslims over beef; he said that about 98 percent of the beef trade in India is in the hands of Hindus and if beef exports were to decline, it would impact India’s GDP. Defending the famous Sachar Committee report against criticism of its exclusive focus on Muslims, he asserted that minorities are an integral part of India. He commented on several other issues, such as the misrepresentation of Aurangzeb in history, the authoritarianism of the Modi government stemming from the mandate of a mere 31 percent, and the failure of the Haryana Government to assuage the fears of Muslims in Atali village during a Jat-Muslim conflict over building of a mosque. Justice Sachar also quoted Prophet Mohammad’s egalitarianism of Arabs and non-Arabs, blacks and whites; he also read out a section of Swami Vivekananda’s remarks on advaita and the equality preached by Islam. He said that Urdu is an Indian language, and not a Muslim one. He asked the JNU students present there to keep up their spirit of resistance for righteous causes.