Wednesday, February 24, 2016

#JNUStories no 12. Money Matters!!

There is a slogan that communists often use. "Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh, We shall fight We shall win". The fight can happen on several issues and the fight can also happen with fellow comrades over a few thousand rupees. Communism is very much like christianity, you can find them in different shades and colours. CPI-ML is one such communist party which has never ruled in any state of India but they claim to be purer than other communist parties.

All India Students Association (AISA) is the student wing of CPI-ML and it acts as the nursery from where CPI-ML gets regular supply of leaders. They have presence in several universities of India but JNU is the place where they are the strongest. Many JNU professors are card holding members of CPI-ML.

AISA has won JNUSU President elections several times. Chandrashekhar Prasad alias Chandu who was shot dead in Siwan by goons of Shahabuddin in the phase of Jungle Raj in Bihar, was member of AISA and JNUSU President. Kavita Krishnan is president of All India Progressive Women's Association and also member of polit bureau of CPI-ML. She has also won joint secretary post of JNUSU. Seniority wise, there are many AISA Leaders who are senior to Kavita Krishnan as far as leadership is concerned as she never became the President of JNUSU.

But somehow, she became a public face of communists when she was being regularly invited by NDTV as a women's rights activist. Other channels also followed the trend and she became a popular face of left in India.

Till this moment, everything was going well, she was outraging on every issue related to women and nobody knew her background so she could not be countered for her biased views towards BJP. 

Appearing on TV debates has several benefits. One of them is that News Channels give a cheque of 5000 rupees to every panelist. This helps motivate people to participate again even when they know that they shall get bashed by other panelists. This is the reason why retired pakistani Generals appear on News Hour as they know that getting a mouthful from Arnab Goswami brings an appearance fee.

Kavita ji got addicted to the cheques. Five thousand rupees for appearing on a show of 30 minutes is not a bad deal at all for a comrade who has always talked about 'Das Kapital' but never experienced the warmth of it first hand. The problem started when fellow comrades of AISA got wind of this income. An ugly fight ensued between Kavita ji and other Comrades. Their argument was that Kavita ji was getting that money because of the organisation and all the income should be equally divided between comrades. Being a comrade is not an easy task as life has to be lived via free loading. When all the academic extensions possible in JNU are utilised, Comrades have to leave The hostel and most of the times, Comrades live in the hostel rooms of fellow comrades as PIG(permanent illegal guest). In such case, any hope of some extra income is nothing less than a dream come true.

While comrades asked for the division of the capital earned through appearance on channels run by corporate houses, Kavita ji realised that Marx might have erred while talking about equal division of capital as she argued that she was the one who was doing the labour and that cheque was rightfully hers. But this has led to one repercussion and that is jealousy among fellow comrades. They have started gossiping against her and how she has compromised the cause. She is given less imporance in the meetings, and, a silent boycott by unhappy cash starved comrades is in process.

Her appearances on Television have decreased drastically and other comrades have decided to take the plunge so that future NDTV Cheques bear their names on them and they can also argue how Marx was incorrect when he talked about equal division of Capital.

As they fight over a few thousand rupees, we ridicule communism by paraphrasing their slogan.

"Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh, Chhodo Bharat Jao Cheen"

You can read other eleven stories by scrolling through this thread.

Please do read, share and let me know your comments.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

#JNUStories No. 11: Geelani and his Advocates

On 17th August, 2004, Democratic Students’ Union planted posters across JNU Campus that said that SAR Geelani was coming to Sutlej Hostel as a speaker to talk on the topic of 'Indian State Repression,POTA and Kashmir'. DSU is a party with a few cadres but they represent the extreme left whose ideology openly talked about freedom from Indian state by using guns. While DSU could not have built the momentum for the meeting, all left parties cheered DSU in the name of freedom of expression. It is DSU which was celebrating the death Anniversary of Afzal Guru this week.

In the evening, ABVP decided to protest against it but the mode of protest was not getting finalized. Older students were in favor of showing black flags and the young lot was adamant that Geelani should not be allowed to enter the campus. We had decided to assemble at Ganga Dhaba which was located close to the main gate. It was my second year in JNU Campus and I had started giving French tuition to school children to fund myself. The 615 bus that ran between CP and JNU dropped me at Ganga Dhaba and we had no time to have dinner and return. With no plan of action at hand, the young cadres had decided to let the things be and handle whatever befell as they deemed fit. Basically, adrenaline was the only factor taken into consideration. In fact, even we had no idea what we were going to do.

Often, in such situations, when people realize that scuffles between groups can't be ruled out, many disappear from the scene. We were hardly 30-40 students shouting slogans and straining our vocal chords. Students’ meetings at JNU usually took place post dinner when the dining halls were cleared and no mike etc was used. A dining hall at JNU could easily accommodate 400 people. While we were proceeding towards Sutlej Hostel, we saw around 500 activists from SFI, AISF, AISA, DSU and NSUI barricading the Hostel gate so that Geelani could arrive for the meeting.

Now, who is SAR Geelani! Geenlani is a Kashmiri professor of Arabic Language in Zakir Hussain College, Delhi University. He’s the one who trained the suicide bombers who had attacked the Indian Parliament on 13th December 2001 by preparing them for death by giving  them Quranic lectures. His telephone calls were traced while he was talking with Afzal Guru, Saukat Guru and others. In 2004, he was still an accused. Later on he was acquitted as the proof against him was not sufficient. It is always difficult to find proof against a terrorist who brainwashes suicide bombers who are already dead. Many security personnel died in that attack and it led the Vajpayee Govt. mobilize the biggest army attack team in the deserts of Rajasthan for almost eight months.

Coming again to the night of 17th August, we were shouting slogans against Geelani, and, although our group was small, we were motivated enough that whatever it might take, Geelani shall be chased away. The adrenaline levels were so high that none of us were thinking about our future, like, in case we would be expelled from JNU, or, even if we ended up getting hurt badly, even getting killed in the process as we foresaw a mob of leftists charging towards us.

Around 9:30 PM, SAR Geelani came in a black Scorpio car belonging to Nandita Haksar, another Human Rights’ Activist living in a posh locality of South Delhi. As the car carrying Geelani approached, every one of us charged at it, without thinking again. A few of us jumped on to the bonnet of the car, while some surrounded it and Geelani could only see us banging our fists on the car windows and body. Communists were pushing us away and many of us had our shirts ripped apart by the end of it all. Geelani tried to hide himself in the car and the driver also panicked and hit the reverse. Within a few seconds, the car was speeding towards JNU Main Gate and we were running behind it to chase it out of the campus. Enough chaos and confusion was created and we being new to the campus, were not seasoned leaders of ABVP. Even leftists were unable to take stock of the situation.

After chasing SAR Geelani away from the JNU campus, we retreated to Ganga Dhaba and continued shouting the slogans. As more joined the protest, a ‘Victory Juloos’ was planned. Meanwhile, a security guard of Sutlej Hostel, who was sympathetic to our cause called one of us to inform that Geelani had returned in a burqa and was giving a speech. As it was announced, all of us started running towards Sutlej Hostel which was around 200 meters from Ganga Dhaba. Leftists were still standing at the gate and this time many groups of guards were put to stop us from entering the hostel mess. As the entrance gate was blocked, we started moving towards the hostel boundary wall. Since there were those protective pieces of broken glass lining the top of the wall, we looked for and found an empty sack and put on top of it. Commies did not expect that we could take such a step. When almost ten of us jumped into the hostel garden area, there began the chaos, again. Geelani panicked as the sounds of loud shouting of slogans approached him, and he was taken out from the hostel via the backyard.

Once Geelani was gone, leftists were so enraged that they started pushing us. A few of us lost our eye glasses, shirts were torn, but this episode led to one thing that I can never forget. Many of my batch mates who were earlier supporting NSUI under the influence of their seniors, all of them participated in our victory march and loud chants of ‘Vande Mataram’ were resonating in JNU Campus.

Most students returned to their hostels by 1:00 AM. Meanwhile, another source informed us that left had filed an FIR against twenty people. Now this could create issues for all of us. We took autos and reached Safdarjung Hospital. We had to file a counter FIR for which we needed a medical certificate. We stayed in the Hospital till the next morning and returned to Vasant Vihar Police Station with a counter FIR against twenty leftist student leaders. Senior police officers did not bother much but the constables brought tea for us and they could not hide their happiness as many of their colleagues had lost their lives in the Parliament attack.

The next day media reported this issue in different way. The Hindu took a pro- left stance, The Indian Express declared that Geelani had not come which was a lie nailed by the picture used by The Hindu. The Pioneer reported the facts.

It was the Congress Government and ultimately nothing happened against the leftist parties. We had to report to a fact finding committee for almost two years and we remained under constant threat of expulsion. Finally we were given letters threatening us of action if this was repeated again and we could finish our degrees. FIRs had been dropped against all of us as the Police gave a clear message to leftists that if they (The leftists) perused their FIR, they (The Police) shall be under the obligation to pursue our FIR as well.

Now when I see this incident after 12 long years, SAR Geelani has been arrested, no nationalist student has been expelled and leftists are under arrest too. It is a moment of pride.

The wheel of time has turned.

Vande Mataram! Kashmir Ho Ya Guwahati, Apna Desh, Apni Maati!

You can read more stories on this series by following #JNUStories on Twitter. You can follow me on twitter.