Ten JNU professors emeritus, including noted historian Romila Thapar and academician Deepak Nayyar, have written to Varsity Vice Chancellor Jagadesh Kumar, alleging “clampdown” on free speech by imposing “severe” punishments on students in connection with the controversial February 9 event.
Noting that they are “disturbed” over the turn of events at JNU, the professors have also appealed to the VC to reconsider the administration’s decision to punish students in connection with the event during which anti-national slogans were allegedly raised.
“The current administration has clamped down on free discussion by imposing severe punishments of fines and rustication on those who organised a meeting on February 9. This despite the fact that they were arrested and sent to jail,” the letter said.
“Now, an order has been issued prohibiting the entry of outsiders in the university premises. We request that the university administration reconsider both these decisions neither of which is required, and act according to the accepted norms of the JNU,” it added.
Besides Thapar and Nayyar, the signatories to the letter are Namwar Singh, Amit Bhaduri, Sheila Bhalla, Anil Bhatti, Zoya Hassan, Utsa Patnaik, SD Muni and Prabhat Patnaik. There are 25 professors emeritus in JNU.
“The university has always been a space where we allowed free discussion on issues raised by students and faculty. In the course of such discussion whether in seminars or at other informal gatherings, speakers from both within the varsity and from outside were invited to participate,” the letter said.
Meanwhile, the hunger strike by students against the punishment by the varsity in connection with the event entered 13th day today.
So far, ten students, including JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid, have withdrawn from the fast.
The university had yesterday formed a four-member team to discuss the demands of the students.
The students union, however, is yet to take a decision whether to enter into negotiations with the administration or not.
Kanhaiya, Umar and Anirban Bhattacharya were arrested in February in a sedition case over the event and are out on bail now.
While Kanhaiya has been slapped with a penalty of Rs 10,000, Umar, Anirban and a Kashmiri student, Mujeeb Gatoo have been rusticated for varying durations.
Financial penalty has been imposed on 14 students. Hostel facilities of two students have been withdrawn and the university has declared the campus out of bounds for two former students.