Pravesh Kumar says for last 70 days, Left-linked students’ union has not given him access to his chamber.


New Delhi: Amidst the ongoing tension following violence in the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus, The Sunday Guardian spoke to Pravesh Kumar who teaches Comparative Political Theory in JNU, to know his views about the persistent violent situation in JNU. Excerpts:

Q: As a teacher, tell us how do you see the ongoing protests in JNU and whether studies are happening on a daily basis in the university.

A: Honestly speaking, as a teacher it pains me that I am not being allowed to take classes or meet my students for more than two months and that is due to the ongoing lockdown situation maintained by the Left-linked students’ union of my university where I am hired and paid to perform this primary role. Being a teacher, my duty is to teach, research and carry on publication works, but for the last 70 days, I am not being able to access even my chamber which is hampering all this work. If doing agitation is right for a few students, then the rights of teachers and students who want to stay away from the brawl and continue with their studies, should also be respected.

I think the entire episode of protests is scripted as the issue of nominal fee hike can’t possibly prompt a long drawn protest like the one that is going on in JNU and it seems that the fee hike issue is being raised only for eyewash and the real motive behind the ruckus in JNU is something else. 

Q: What is your view on the violence that occurred on JNU campus on 4-5 January? Do you think that the probe that is underway is satisfactory enough? 

A: Delhi Police and the JNU administration are both probing the violence that occurred on 4-5 January. The basic question that arises is why a group of students vandalised the data centre which also houses the CCTV data on 4 January? What was their motive? In my view, the violence, and counter-violence, needs to be probed and proved by a court-assisted special task force and then only the truth can come out.

Q: Do you think that the Vice-Chancellor of JNU is efficiently dealing with the ongoing situation in the campus?

A: Yes, absolutely. M. Jagadesh Kumar, the JNU V-C, is an enlightened person and a great academician. Ever since he has joined JNU, he has started many initiatives, including the opening of engineering centers, and has paved the way for achieving greater excellence. The Left-affiliated students’ union of JNU has always been critical about the V-C and has been demanding his ouster since 2016.

Q: Do you think that JNU has become a battleground of two ideology-based groups—Left and Right?

A: Absolutely, the JNU campus has turned into a battleground due to the ideological contestation between Right and Left groups. Nowadays, a proverb is in use that the Left is only left in JNU and here also, they are facing challenges from the Right-wing affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and a subaltern group like BAPSA (Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association). So far, the Left has formed a united wing to sustain these new challenges to retain its last citadel and several times, it has resorted to violence on the campus. You check the students’ union polls data and you will be surprised that if the Left-wing contests elections without forming an all-party alliance, it will be difficult for them to win even a single post.

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