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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 10 New Delhi February 27, 2016

Stop Harassment of Delhi University Professors

Sunday 28 February 2016

We, the undersigned, condemn the ongoing harassment of senior professors of Delhi University Dr Ali Javed, Prof Nirmalangshu Mukharji and Dr Vijay Singh in the name of questioning over a seminar which is construed as an anti-national event. These professors were kept in the police station till 3 am at night and have been subjected to questioning for nearly 12 hours a day. Dr Tripta Wahi was also called for questioning on Monday (February 15) but allowed to leave in the evening.

All this is related to a meeting held at the Press Club in which Dr Ali Javed, Prof. Nirmalangshu Mukharji, Dr Vijay Singh and Dr Tripta Wahi had participated and spoken. It seems a case is being tried to be made that it was an anti-national meeting and these four academics who are involved in it.

Dr Ali Javed has made it very clear in his letter to the Press Club and in his statement to the police that he was not the organiser of the event. His role was confined to get the venue for Dr S.A.R. Geelani booked at his request. All four of them had spoken very clear in the meeting that for them the Indian Constitution was supreme. All problems, including that of Kashmir, needs to be resolved in the framework of the Constitution. They had also made it abundantly clear that they did not regard Afzal Guru as a martyr.

We also want to emphasise that India has a long tradition of various types of anti-establish-ment campaigns which have only strengthened Indian democracy and made it more robust and resilient. The state alone does not represent India. It is the people, of different shades and hues, of differing ideas of democracy which make India. India has witnessed protests in Mizoram, Nagaland, Bodoland, Manipur, Gorkhaland and other places. To criminalise expression of dissent and protest would subvert the very idea of a free and democratic India.

The Indian state cannot be allowed to turn into a police state which believes in only one kind of ‘nationalist’ ideology. Expression of frustration and even anger by people who have a feeling of being wronged by the state cannot be termed seditious.

Kashmiri people, as Indian citizens, have a right to express themselves, however disagree-able their protest might be to some of us, as long as it is not a violent act.

The atmosphere of fear and intimidation that has been built in the last week bodes ill for Indian democracy. The capitulation of the Press Club before the police, its alacrity in lodging a complaint against the organisers of the above- mentioned event and its act of termination of the membership of Dr Ali Javed shows that autonomy of institutions is under severe stress.

For the last four days the four academics are being harassed by keeping them at the police station for long hours. It’s very distressing and disturbing that all this is happening in the Capital of India and involves four well-known academics who have all their life fought for democratic and secular values of India and are being subjected to constant harassment.

We demand that the Delhi Police stop subjecting these senior academics to needless harassment and indignity.

Anil Chowdhary,

Social Activist;

Apoorvanand,

Professor, Delhi University;

Dhruv Narain,

Publisher; Dilip Simeon, Historian;

Harsh Kapoor,

Social Activist;

Kavita Krishnan,

Secretary, AIPWA;

Manisha Sethi,

JTSA;

Manoj Jha,

Professor, Delhi University;

Manoranjan Mohanty,

Former Professor, Delhi University;

Mansi Sharma,

Social Activist;

Nandini Sundar,

Professor, Delhi University;

N.D. Pancholi,

Advocate;

Ovais Sultan Khan,

Social Activist;

Rahul Govind,

Professor, Delhi University;

Ritwik Agarwal,

Professor, Delhi University;

Sanghmitra Mishra,

Professor, Delhi University;

Shabnam Hashmi,

Social Activist;

Sohaib Ahmad,

JTSA;

Sumit Chakravartty,

Journalist (February 17, 2016)