In a public statement issued on Facebook, on July 6, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Umar Khalid took on the varsity’s high-level enquiry committee report that upheld his expulsion. In his statement, calling the high-level inquiry farcical, Khalid said, “We are all being targeted in a systematic and a malafide manner by an enquiry that was prejudiced against us from day one.”
The committee was investigating charges against Khalid and others in connection with the February 2016 event on Afzal Guru’s hanging, during which anti-national slogans were allegedly raised on campus. The committee had upheld its order of rusticating Khalid and fining the former JNU Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar with a sum of Rs 10,000 on July 5. Although the official order has not been made public, university sources and Khalid himself confirmed the news.
In his statement, Khalid has also said: “We reject this farce of an enquiry along with its findings and verdict. It is against all principles of natural justice, and is riddled with contradictions, lies and malice which will soon be exposed again. We will once again challenge this in court.”
This is the third time in the last two years that Khalid has been issued a rustication letter by the university administration. Earlier, in May 2016, the Delhi High Court had stayed the disciplinary action taken against Kumar, Khalid, and Anirban Bhattacharya. In October 2017, the Delhi High court after setting aside the disciplinary action yet again had asked the university administration to look into the matter afresh and to allow students to submit evidence and present their side.
Calling the HLEC report “shameful” and “rabidly vindictive”, Khalid also questioned the timing of the report. He said, “They have conjured this HLEC order just two weeks before the deadline of our final submission which is shameful and rabidly vindictive. It is symptomatic of their larger assault on public-funded education, on research on social justice and on criticality.”
Newslaundry spoke to, Balaji, an MPhil scholar at the university. Speaking about the report, Balaji said, “The decision of the HLEC has come due to the pressure on the administration from the central government.”
Speaking to Newslaundry, Sucheta De, former president of the JNU students’ union, added, “The 2009 chapter has been re-opened by the VC who is an RSS man, even before the students could be given a punishment media outlets are running hashtags against the university again.”
In its coverage of the story, Times Now used #JNUIndiahaterspunished as its hashtag before stating that “Tukde Tukde gang” was politicising treachery. Communist Party of India’s Atul Anjan and activist John Dayal who critiqued the report of the administration were labelled as ‘lobby’ backing the Tukde Tukde gang.