Thursday, June 28, 2007

Out of prick of conscience!!

There is something interesting going on in the most happening place in India, the XXX University. Allow me to begin the story from the middle: On one March evening this year, residents of Sutlej hostel, one of the 18-20 hostels in the university, blocked the traffic inside the university. The reason: the long standing demands for basic amenities in the hostel and the timely maintenance of its electrical appliances and wooden furniture have been consistently ignored by the university administration. There shouldn't have been anything interesting in this apparently apolitical demonstration by a group of university students if it had nothing to do with the agitations that rock the U campus today. But destiny had it different.

Further to the demonstration and road blockade, an enquiry committee was constituted to look into the matter and to book the students behind the 'anti-social' act. From a demonstration in which scores of students participated, the enquiry committee, without any rhyme or reason, picked up one PhD student and imposed on him a fine of Rs. 5000/-. A number of tables and benches in the mess hall were used for the blockade. The punishing authority conveniently ignored the fact that a single individual cannot carry these pieces of furniture without being helped by others. And how about the enquiry committee report? Has anyone seen the report? Has it been tabled before any forum? No one knows. Later, when some friends of Suhail, the student who was fined, and other supporters of the cause approached the administration to make them understand the illogicality of the punishment order, the administration pacified them by making the hostel president also party to the punishment. The hostel president was fined a lesser amount, Rs. 1000/-. Suhail, who has been in the forefront of many agitations, and hence, a target of JNU administration, apologized. But, contrary to University tradition, the administration hesitated to reduce the fine amount.

Interestingly, members of University Students' Union (**USU) and University Teachers' Association (**UTA), the organizations which now fight against the rustication/out-of-bounds awarded to their cronies, were conspicuously absent from the scene. When Suhail yielded to the autocratic ways of the university administration, remitting the fine which he managed to collect from his well-wishers and supporters, the first part of the story ends. Suhail withdrew to his room in Sutlej to complete his PhD thesis which is to be submitted in a few months' time (It is well known to everyone around him that the administration targeted Suhail taking advantage of the crucial period which he passes through at present, and that the former knows very well that any student in such a situation will neither have the time nor the resources to organize a mass students' movement against it.).

But while remitting the fine imposed on him, which was not reduced even after his apology, Suhail did not forget to prick the conscience of the administration through a statement in his affidavit. And this refers to an incident in which the university Registrar Avais Ahmad was illegaly confined for six hours by a group of students demanding the intervention of University administration on a series of issues. It is assumed that the revolutionary model confinement, in which a few girl students played the lead role, gave a boost to the students' struggle for MPhil/PhD scholarships, minimum wages for hired construction and mess workers, abolition of caste discrimination and functionalization of Gender Sensitization Committee Against Sexual Harassment or GSCASH, as it is generally called.

How is it justified that when **USU, taking responsibility to the confinement incident, apologized with the university administration, the administration was ready to show leniency towards the activists, whereas the apology of a student who was falsely implicated in an equally genuine issue fell on deaf ears, was the question raised by Suhail. What is the rationality that links together both the judgments - the judgment in the illegal confinement case and traffic blockade case? This was an eye-opener for the **U administration, it needs to be inferred now. Mulling over Suhail's affidavit, the university administration was forced to revoke its decision on the confinement case which it had dropped earlier in a university general body meeting. So far so good. Personally, I feel that rustication and out of bounds are too harsh a punishment. But, in the same token, justice should not show partiality and should not be prone to bias.


anu said...

it is a bullshit.

gokul said...

True. Individual students do not always get adequate support from the JNUSU or the so called social activists of the campus.