Throughout history, every jingoistic and uber-nationalistic party that has ever assumed power has compromised with the autnonomy of educational institutions. Dissent, the most vibrant feature of any flourishing democracy is the first value to be attacked by any right-wing, populist force establishing its regime. India takes pride in front of the whole world for its values of Right To Speech and this right is slowly being denied to the Indian citizens.
Since 2014, countless educational institutions are under a siege of terror where the authorities have to either peddle a narrative set by the Centre or they will be branded as “anti-national” forces hell-bent on dividing the nation. The first institution to come under fire was Jawaharlal Nehru University when its student activists Kanhaiya Kumar, Shehla Rashid Shora and Umar Khalid were falsely flagged as anti-national voices and their doctored videos of shouting anti-India slogans were spread all over the Internet.
All India Students’ Association (AISA) President Kanhaiya Kumar was not only arrested over those doctored videos but he was also manhandled and beaten while in custody. His only crime was to have demanded the “Azaadi” from poverty, illiteracy and unemployment. Since he was asking the right questions and was not getting distracted by the chants of Hindu-Muslim and Shamshan-Kabrisatan, he was perceived as a threat by the sitting government. This clearly showed the government’s insecurity that a college level student was branded a threat to the country merely for practicing his right to speech granted to him by the Indian constitution.
In 2018, Satish Gautam, BJP MP from Aligarh sparked a controversy citing the presence of Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s portrait inside the Student’s Union Hall of Aligarh Muslim University. Hindutva goons entered the campus fully armed and injured many students of Aligarh Muslim University. Hindu Yuva Vahini, the student activist group founded and guided by BJP MP and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, stormed the campus and beat many AMU students to the point that they had to be hospitalized. Even the Aligarh Muslim University Students Union (AMUSU) President Mashkoor Ahmed Usmani suffered many injuries. This attack was carefully orchestrated and planned to bruise the identity of minorities in India.
The most recent in the list of educational institutions under attack of BJP Government and its ideologues is Jadavpur University (JU) in Kolkata, West Bengal. On 19th September, BJP MP Babul Supriyo was invited as a guest in the Freshers Party of Jadavpur University. Going by the waning popularity of BJP ideologues all over the country, Babul Supriyo too was protested against by the students of Jadavpur University. He was asked to “Go Back” from the campus by the students who do not agree with the political ideology of BJP and its allies. This enraged ABVP activists inside the campus and they started vandalizing and rioting all over the place. As per reports, many students have been severely injured while the Vice Chancellor of the Jadavpur University has also been hospitalized. Many ABVP activists both on and off campus surrounded the whole University premises carrying swords and other weapons, the police had to interfere to ensure the safety of the students. Many women inside the campus were manhandled and slut-shamed by the ABVP members that is also the ideological ally of BJP and the Sangh.
When a political party starts treating educational institutions as threats, it is a clear indication that fascism is at the doorstep. Educational institutions are centres of learning where free exchange of ideas takes place and it is the anti-dote to any totalitarian ideology aiming to establish homogeneity in a society.