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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 9 New Delhi February 20, 2016

If Anti-National Means this, God Save Our Country

Kanhaiya Kumar’s Address at JNU campus on February 11

Monday 22 February 2016

Kanhaiya Kumar, the JNU Students’ Union President, addressed a gathering on the campus of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi on February 11 evening. The following day he was arrested on the charge of sedition for taking part in a march on February 9 in the JNU where anti-India slogans were raised.

The following is the near-complete Hindi speech Kumar delivered on February 11, translated by J.P. Yadav of The Telegraph, Kolkata from a recording uploaded on YouTube. The recording does not feature the beginning of the speech. Other than that, the translation below reproduces the speech in full. It is being published here with due acknowledgement to www.telegraphindia.com for the benefit of our readers.

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They are the ones who burnt the Tricolour. They are followers of Savarkar who apologised to the British. They are the ones who, in Haryana, have changed the name of one airport. There was one airport named after Bhagat Singh. The Khattar Government has now named it after one Sanghi (a person associated with the RSS).

What I mean to say is that we don’t need the certificate of patriotism from the RSS. We don’t need a nationalist certificate from the RSS. We belong to this country. We love this country. We fight for the 80 per cent of the poor population of this country. For us, this is nation-worship.

We have full faith in Babasahab (Ambedkar). We have full faith in the Constitution of India. We want to say this very forcefully that if anyone tries to challenge the Constitution, be it the Sanghis, we will not tolerate.

We have faith in the Constitution. But we don’t have faith in the constitution that is taught in Jhandewalan (RSS headquarters in Delhi) and Nagpur. We don’t have faith in Manusmriti, we don’t have faith in the caste system in this country.

The Constitution and Babasahab Ambedkar talk about corrective measures. The same Babasahab Ambedkar talks about abolishing capital punishment. The same Babasahab Ambedkar talks about freedom of expression. And we want to uphold the Constitution, we want to uphold our right.

But it’s shameful and sad that the ABVP, in association with their media friends, is running an orchestrated campaign.

Yesterday, the ABVP joint secretary said that we fight for fellowships. How ridiculous it sounds! Their government, Madam Manu-Smriti Irani is ending fellowship and they accuse us of fighting for fellowships. Their government has reduced the higher education budget by 17 per cent.

Our hostel has not been built for the past four years, there is no Wi-fi. BHEL gave us one bus but the administration has no money for oil. And ABVP people stand like Dev Anand claiming that they will get hostels built, they will get Wi-fi and they will get fellowships.

They will be exposed if there is a debate on the basic issues in this country. We are proud of being JNU-ites because we discuss and debate the basic issues concerning this country. We raise issues related to the dignity of women, Dalits, tribals and minorities in this country. And so, their Swamy (Subramanian Swamy) says that jihadis live in JNU, that JNU students spread violence.

On behalf of JNU, I want to challenge RSS ideologues. Call us and hold a debate. We want to debate the concept of violence. We want to raise questions about the frenzied ABVP’s slogans, their slogan that they will do tilak with blood and aarti with bullets. Whose blood do they want to spill? They aligned with the British and fired bullets on the freedom fighters of this country. They fired bullets when poor people demanded bread; they fired bullets when people dying of hunger talked about their rights; they have fired bullets on Muslims; they have fired bullets on women when they demand equal rights.

They say that five fingers are not equal. They advocate that women should emulate Sita and give agnipariksha. There is democracy in this country, and democracy gives equal rights to all—be it a student, a worker, the poor or the rich, Ambani or Adani. And when we talk about equal rights of women, they accuse us of destroying Indian culture.

We want to destroy the culture of exploitation, the culture of caste, the culture of Manuwad and Brahminism. Till now, the definition of culture has not been resolved. They have a problem when people of this country talk about democracy, when they give blue salute along with red salute, when people talk about Ambedkar along with Marx, when people talk about Asfaqulla Khan (the freedom fighter), they can’t tolerate. It is their conspiracy. They were British stooges. I dare them to file a defamation case against me. I say that the RSS’s history is of siding with the British. These traitors today are distributing certificates of nationalism.

Check my mobile phone, friends. Dirty abuses are being hurled at my mother and sister. Which Mother India are you talking about? If my mother is not part of your Mother India, your concept of Mother India is not acceptable to me.

My mother is an Anganwadi sewika, my family runs with the Rs 3000 she earns and they are abusing her. I’m ashamed that in this country, the mothers of the poor, Dalit farmers are not part of Mother India. I will hail the mothers of this country, I will hail the fathers of this country, I will hail the mothers and sisters of this country, I will hail the poor farmers, Dalits, tribals and labourers. I will tell them that if they have courage, then say ’Inquilab zindabad’, say ’Bhagat Singh zindabad’, say ’Sukhdev zindabad’, say ’Asfaqulla Khan zindabad’, say ’Babasahab Ambedkar zindabad’. Only then will I believe that you have faith in this country.

They are enacting the drama of celebrating Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary. If they have courage, they should raise the issues Ambedkar raised. Caste system is one of the biggest problems in this country. Talk about caste system, bring reservation in every sector, bring reservation in the private sector. Raise these questions, then I will believe that you have faith in this country.

This nation had never been yours and will never be yours. A nation is made by its people and if there is no place for hungry and poor people in your idea of the nation, then it is no nation.

Yesterday, I said in one TV debate that we are in difficult times. The way fascism is coming in the country, even the media would not be spared. The media would be provided with written scripts from the RSS office, just as written scripts came from the Congress office during the Emergency.

Some media friends told me that JNU runs on taxpayers’ money, on subsidy. Yes, it is right that JNU runs on subsidy. But I want to raise the question: what are universities for? Universities are there for critical analysis of the society’s collective conscience. Critical analysis should be promoted. If universities fail in their duty, there would be no nation. If people are not part of a nation, it will turn into a grazing ground for the rich, for exploitation and looting.

If we don’t assimilate people’s culture, beliefs and rights, a nation would not be formed. We stand firmly with the country, we stand for the dreams of Bhagat Singh and Babasahab Ambedkar. We stand for equal rights. We stand for the right to live. Rohith (Vemula) had to lose his life to stand for these rights.

But we want to tell these Sanghis—“shame on your government”. We challenge the Central Government—we will not allow in JNU whatever it did in the case of Rohith. Rohith will not lose his life here. We will not forget Rohith’s sacrifice. We will stand for freedom of expression.

Leave aside Pakistan and Bangladesh, we call for unity of the poor and the toiling masses of the world. We hail the humanity of this world, we hail the humanity of India.

We have identified those who are against humanity. This is the biggest issue before us today. We have identified that face of casteism, the face of Manuwad, the face of the nexus between Brahminism and capitalism. And we have to expose these faces. We have to usher in real freedom, and that freedom will come through the Constitution, through Parliament. And we will achieve it.

I want to appeal to you friends that despite all the differences, we have to safeguard this freedom of expression, we have to safeguard our Constitution, we have to safeguard the unity and integrity of this country. For this, we have to remain united and fight the forces trying to divide our country, the forces that give shelter to terrorists.

One last question before I end my speech. Who is Kasab? Who is Afzal Guru? Who are these people, who are in a state to wrap bombs around their body and kill? If these questions are not raised in universities, the existence of universities becomes pointless. If we don’t define justice, if we don’t define violence and how we see violence? Violence is not only about killing somebody with a gun. There is violence when the JNU administration denies the constitutional rights guaranteed to Dalits. This is institutional violence.

They talk about justice. Who will decide what justice is? Brahminism did not allow Dalits to enter temples. The British did not allow dogs and Indians to enter restaurants. That was justice then. We challenged that justice and today we challenge the justice of the ABVP and the RSS because their justice does not accommodate justice for us. If their justice doesn’t accommodate justice for us, we will not accept their justice and this freedom. We will accept this freedom when every person gets his constitutional right. We will accept justice when there are equal rights for all.

Friends, the situation is very serious. Under no circumstances does the JNUSU (the JNU Students’ Union) support any violence, any terrorist, any terror incident and any anti-India activity. I want to reiterate that the JNUSU strongly condemns slogans of “Pakistan zindabad” raised by some unidentified people.

I want to share one thing with you, friends. It is a question related to the JNU administration and the ABVP. Thousands of things take place on this JNU campus. Listen carefully to the slogans being raised by the ABVP now. They are calling us ’communist dogs’. They are calling us ’Afzal Guru’s dogs’. They are calling us ’children of jihadis’. If the Constitution gives us the right to be citizens, then is it not an attack on our constitutional right when they call our parents dogs? We want to ask this question to the ABVP and the JNU administration.

We want to ask the JNU administration for whom, with whom and on what basis it works. It is now clear that the JNU administration first gives permission and then withdraws it on receiving a call from Nagpur. This thing of first giving permission and then withdrawing, it has intensified. First, they will announce fellowship and then tell that it has been withdrawn. This is the RSS and ABVP pattern with which they want to run this country.

We want to ask the JNU administration: permission (for the February 9 programme where eventually the anti-India slogans were shouted) was granted despite the fact that posters had been put up and pamphlets distributed. When it gave permission, on whose directive was it withdrawn? We want to ask this to the JNU administration.

At the same time, understand the truth of these (ABVP) people. Don’t hate them. I feel sad for them. They are jumping today because they feel that the way they got Gajendra Chauhan (in the FTII), they would get people like him in every institution. They feel that with people like Chauhan everywhere, they would get jobs. Once they get jobs, they will forget nation-worship and Bharat Mata. What to tell of the Tricolour, which they have never respected? They will also forget the saffron flag.

I want to know what kind of nation-worship are they talking about? If an owner doesn’t behave properly with his employees, if a farmer doesn’t do justice with his workers, if a highly paid CEO of a media house doesn’t behave properly with the meagrely paid reporters, then what is this nation-worship?

Their nation-worship ends with an India-Pakistan cricket match. After that when they go out on the road, they misbehave with the person selling bananas. When the person selling bananas tells them that a dozen comes for Rs 40, they abuse him and accuse him of looting customers. They demand a dozen for Rs 30.

The day the person selling bananas turns and tells them that you are the real looters, they will term the poor fellow anti-national. Nation-worship begins and ends with wealth and facilities. I know a number of ABVP people and I ask them whether the fervour of nationalism moves them. They tell me: “What to do, brother, this government is for five years and two years are already over. Three years’ talktime is left and whatever has to be done, should be done in this period.”

But I ask them what will happen if, tomorrow, one of their own members, who is going around in trains checking for beef, holds them by the collar and accuses them of being anti-national since they are from JNU? They could be lynched. I ask them whether they realise this danger?

They tell me that they realise this danger and so are opposing #JNUShutdown (a Twitter hashtag). First, they build an atmosphere against JNU and, then, oppose it when they realise that ultimately they have to live in JNU only.

This is why I want to tell all JNU-ites that elections are coming in March. The ABVP people will seek your votes with the “Om” flag. Ask them: “We are jihadis, we are terrorists, we are anti-nationals and by taking our votes, will they also become anti-national?” Do ask them these questions. I know when you ask them these questions, they will tell you: “Not you, but a few people are anti-nationals.” Then ask them: “Why did they not tell this in the media then?” Ask them why their Vice-Chancellor and Registrar too did not tell then.

Tell them that those few people too are saying that they did not raise slogans of “Pakistan zindabad”, nor did they support terrorism. Those few people are asking why at first permission was granted and then withdrawn and why this is an attack on their democratic right. These few people are saying that if somewhere a democratic struggle is being fought, they will stand for it.

They will never understand this. But the people, who have gathered here on short notice, understand the issue. They will go around the campus and tell the students that the ABVP is not only breaking this country but also JNU and we will not allow this to happen.

Long live JNU. JNU will continue to actively participate in all democratic struggles taking place across the country, continue to strengthen the voice of democracy, the voice of freedom and freedom of expression. We will struggle and win and defeat the traitors of this country. With these words, I thank you all and appeal for unity.

Jai Bhim, Lal Salaam.