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Why Kanhaiya’s JNU Speech After Release is Problematic



Prerna Bakshi 



I have been in solidarity with the #StandWithJNU movement from the start and as happy as I am about comrade Kanhaiya getting bail, his whole “complete faith in the judiciary” statement (along with several other statements) didn’t go down well with me.

How can you have ‘full faith in the judiciary’ when the very judiciary continues to fail several millions of our people on a daily basis – those who live on the margins. Those who are militarily occupied. Those who are on the receiving end of state persecution. Those who are constantly under surveillance.

Those who get branded as “Maoists” like Prof. Saibaba did (a 90% disabled man in tortuous condition in prison who gets denied bail repeatedly, who gets denied any help in jail for use of toilet or washing, who has developed severe problems in multiple organs, such as his heart, spinal cord, kidney, liver and gall bladder during his year-long stay at the jail).

Those who even speak out about it, like Arundhati Roy did, and get issued a ‘contempt notice’. Those Adivasi women who get gang-raped by our security forces in the name of ‘Anti-Naxal Operation’, yet not a single FIR ever gets registered. Those Adivasi women activists, like Soni Sori, who are subjected to gross sexual violence and assault in police custody while officials like Ankit Garg get gallantry awards. Those Dalit women who get raped and assaulted by upper caste men. Those workers who go on strike and find themselves without a job and behind bars.

Those religious minorities, like Muslims, who are witch-hunted and demonized as “terrorists”, whose ‘Indianness’ is forever questioned, who go mysteriously missing, who get shot at in broad daylight and the police, bureaucracy and the Indian state justifies it by saying they got killed in an ‘encounter’, that they were a ‘threat to the Indian state’.

Those who get framed, sentenced to death without evidence. Those who get their mercy appeals turned down to satisfy the ‘collective conscience of the people’. Those who have to live with the draconian laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Those whose homelands have virtually been turned into heavily militarized zones and virtual prison houses.

Pretty sure if you asked some of these people, they would tell you that they don’t have much faith in the judiciary (as would many other people).

There is also very little to celebrate about a judgement, as in the case of Delhi High Court that granted bail to Kanhaiya, that uses terms like “amputation”, “infection”, and “gangrene” as ‘cures’ to the ‘problem’ of ‘anti-nationalism’. The judgement in itself should be a cause for worry. The precise words used by the Delhi High Court in its judgement were:

“Whenever some infection is spread in a limb, effort is made to cure the same by giving antibiotics orally and if that does not work, by following second line of treatment. Sometimes it may require surgical intervention also. However, if the infection results in infecting the limb to the extent that it becomes gangrene, amputation is the only treatment.”

Kanhaiya’s statement ‘we want freedom in India, not freedom from India’ is also problematic, especially for those who happen to be some of the most marginalized people on the receiving end of the brutality of the Indian state, from Chhattisgarh to Manipur to Kashmir.

It is also important to note that the judiciary is not divorced from the Indian state or from the idea of this Indian state, not for those, at least, who often have to bear the brunt of this very judiciary. Seen in this light, why would they not aspire towards freedom ‘from’ India?

(Prerna Bakshi is the author of the recently released Burnt Rotis,).


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Comments (3)

  1. Sujit

    What Kanhaiya said is obviously about his faith in the judiciary in respect of the eventua correction if injustice meted out to him. How would you expect him to have an opinion on the judiciary that addresses all the issues ever handled by judiciary? Seems you have written whole article based on your personal views of the judiciary expecting Kanhaiya to have been your sounding board! Where’s the reasonableness in your expectation?

  2. As far as I know, Kanhaiya mentioned in his speech “jo log sache deshbhakt hai wo samajh jayenge”, and “jo subjudice hai mai uss par comment nahi karna chahta”. What I understood was he wants to say lots of things but he can’t because one of the conditions of the bail was “you should not involve yourself in any ‘anti-national’ activity”. Hence he does not speak about few things but expects us to understand. It is obvious that he doesn’t have “full faith” in the current judiciary or constitution but he has full faith that these things can be changed by using constitutional methods.

    I think we all know how stupid the high court judgement was. It will be interesting to see how Kanhaiya deals with those ppl now and how events unfold. He is quite intelligent, he knows what to say that would offend the government and yet not get him into trouble. He is toeing the line very carefully.

    He is not exactly making emotional speeches or declaring his views. He is making political speeches. So as long as we know what side he is on, we should be satisfied and not dissect his speeches for words that he is saying in order to be politically correct under this threatful government.

    I disagree with you when you say “Kanhaiya’s statement ‘we want freedom in India, not freedom from India’ is also problematic, … “. Why is it problematic? Kanhaiya’s main objective is to fight against atrocities done to all the people of India in India. The marginalised people of Chhatisgarh, Manipur and Kashmir are also Indians. Kanhaiya does not think that they should separate from India, he thinks they should fight for their rights which has been given to them by the Indian Constitution. However, he also believes that if any people feel and want separation they have the right to express themselves and discuss the issue to find common solutions. Just wanting separation does not make one anti-national.

  3. Muhamad

    My thoughts after reading the articles are already given above by Shreya Ray.

    Just imagine Kanhaiya saying that he has little or no faith in judiciary? What would have happened? How would the media have taken and twisted it?This would have armed the right-wing and all the efforts would have gone down the drain.

    Regarding why it shouldn’t be freedom from India, if the state act against the minorities and deprived sections, then that state doesn’t represent my idea of India. Do not confuse the state with India. In such situations we should try make that India rather than distancing ourselves from the very idea of India.

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