Steel city says yes to azadi & no to hype

Many of Jamshedpur's college-goers listened to JNU students' union president Kanhaiya Kumar's homecoming speech on Thursday night avidly, but while they agreed with his emotive clarion call of wanting azadi in India and not from India, many said he did not clarify during his 60-minute address if the alleged anti-national slogans were at all raised on JNU campus and what his role was as the face of the students' union during agitations.

By Antara Bose
  • Published 5.03.16
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Samiksha (in purple kurti), a student of The Graduate School College for Women, speaks on Kanhaiya on Friday, a day after his speech on JNU campus. Picture by Bhola Prasad

Many of Jamshedpur's college-goers listened to JNU students' union president Kanhaiya Kumar's homecoming speech on Thursday night avidly, but while they agreed with his emotive clarion call of wanting azadi in India and not from India, many said he did not clarify during his 60-minute address if the alleged anti-national slogans were at all raised on JNU campus and what his role was as the face of the students' union during agitations.

"We watched his entire speech. He wanted freedom in India, that's commendable. But, he did not even for once say anything on the alleged anti-national slogans raised in JNU or what he did to stop that or whether they even took place," Mohammad Sarfaraz, a final semester student of Jamshedpur Co-operative Law College and a member of Jharkhand Chhatra Morcha (JCM).

"He didn't tackle the real issue, did he?" Samiksha, a second-year physics honours student of Graduate School College for Women, and her friend Nisha Mishra, a first-year BCom student, said in unison.

What the girls did not know was that the Delhi government's fact-finding report gives Kanhaiya a clean chit. But it has asked for a probe against other JNU students and concluded "anti-national slogans were raised", and "many students from outside, especially some Kashmiri students had joined the group."

There is outrage over the way Kanhaiya and his friends were beaten up at Patiala Court by alleged lawyers last month. "The government should have handled the issue better. Police have miserably failed," Sarfaraz said. "Probe has shown parts of the videos were doctored."

But, echoing the prevalent mood among rival students' unions such as JCM, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and National Students' Union of India (NSUI) that the whole JNU row has been "over-politicised", Sarfaraz added: "Kanhaiya used his opportunity well and now he is trying to be one of the popular faces."

ABM College history honours student Satnam Singh condemned politics on campuses. "Kanhaiya is telling us he belongs to a poor family from Bihar. Has this become a unique selling point for TRPs? His speech was good and inspiring, peppered with humour and sarcasm, but it was one-sided," he said.

LBSM College student Suraj Kumar said they belonged to a region where higher education was considered one of the worst in the country, but their college campuses were more peaceful compared to those in Delhi. "Here too, students belong to poor families like Kanhaiya does. We fight for students' rights but our strategy is different," he said.

How has Kanhaiya Kumar's speech inspired you? Tell ttkhand@abpmail.com