Monday, February 29,2016

NEW DELHI: Anant Prakash Narayan, one of the six people accused of sedition at Jawaharlal Nehru University, has written an open letter to Smriti Irani, following the HRD Minister’s speech in Parliament. “I listened to your speech in Parliament. Before I say what I have to say, let me make it clear that this letter is not of a “child” to a “motherly” Minister, but it is from one political person with a specific ideology to another political person,” the open letter — written in Hindi — begins.

The full text of the letter, translated from Hindi, is below:

“I listened to your speech in Parliament. Before I say what I have to say, let me make it clear that this letter is not of a “child” to a “motherly” Minister, but it is from one political person with a specific ideology to another political person. I also want to make it clear that I do not judge a person’s merit by her educational qualifications, in fact I reject the concept of merit.

As well as taking charge of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, it is expected that you take responsibility of this country’s central universities, while respecting their autonomy. What you did in the matter of Rohith Vemula is evident to everyone; the pressure that you put on the university administration came forth in the form of Rohith’s institutional murder. But I do not want to speak of all these matters right now.

You repeatedly assert your identity as a woman, and you should because women are among those groups who have been oppressed for long. But Vemula’s mother, a Dalit woman, fought with this patriarchal society to raise her kids and gave them her identity so why is your government associating the identity of her children to her husband? Are you standing with a Brahmanical and patriarchal society? Why are you snatching away her right to have an independent identity.

Stating your full name, you asked a question about your jati, and before your speech ended, people had revealed your jati. I am not interested in what your caste is, and I definitely do not believe that if you are from a higher caste, you will necessarily be caste-ist. But the letters that were written by your Ministry, describe Rohith and his colleagues as “caste-ist.”

Madam, do you know the difference between caste-ism and caste assertion? I believe that you do understand the difference, because the RSS – that is running your government and your Ministry – is well aware of the difference.

I hope that you have read the Manu Smriti, and that you are aware that the RSS believes strongly in it, wherein the status of Dalits and women in society is defined. As a Dalit, on reading the Manu Smriti, I feel insulted and anxious. Then, why – being a woman – don’t you feel the same? When you give your speeches, you get very emotional, and you are successful too, at times. But, do you feel the same emotion when you read Manu Smriti? And if till now you have not read Manu Smriti, then I hope that after reading it, as a woman, you will leave the BJP immediately. And along with a Dalit MP, who could be Udit Raj, decry Manu Smriti in Parliament.

In your speech, you screamed that there should be no politics on Rohith’s suicide. Madam, perhaps you’re not that ignorant that you do not know the Rohith’s death was the doing of saffron politics. Rohith was against right-wing politics, of which you are an advocate, and he paid the price for his politics with his life. But even so, look at Rohith’s greatness, that he forgave you. Today, your government and organisations want to make University campuses a cemetery for students. First IIT Madras, FTII, the HCU, AU, and now JNU.

In our matter, you gave the example of the probe committee, but don’t you remember that you were sending letters to Hyderabad and putting pressure on their inquiry committees? What happened in our matter? Without being listened to, we were debarred. But don’t you know the principle of ‘natural justice’ – that without listening to an individual, you cannot take a decision. And isn’t it that instead of reading out our names in Parliament, you should have waited for the inquiry committee’s report.

You spoke of the Mahishasura Martyrdom Day. Don’t you know, that in this country, there are different religious beliefs (that you have no faith in)? And as per the Constitution of India, all have equal rights and freedoms. Don’t you know, that in India, in some areas, Dalits and adivasis, have linked their religious beliefs to Mahishasura? I am a communist, and I do not believe in religion, yet, I believe that every individual has the right to follow his/her own religious beliefs. And when it is concerned with the character of women, then the relevant pamphlets are available with our Sanghi registrar. Kindly get those and read them. You have said that when we go to the courts for judicial remedy, we cannot raise questions against the institution. You have very little understanding. According to you, a worker in a factory, from where he is getting his wages, cannot speak out against abuse and exploitation that he might face there? I do not agree with this at all. I believe that to make any institution better, it is necessary to debate and discuss its defects, deficiencies and weaknesses.

You have also said many other things. After hearing all this, can we take it that you are innocent as far as truth is concerned? Or is it something else altogether? We all know that your government is facing its biggest challenges from students, farmers and intellectuals together. That is why all these sections are being targeted by the RSS.

Students, even before your government came, had been protesting against your fascist attitude and character. You government and RSS’ cultural nationalism, supported by corporates, is fully committed to implementing this agenda. And for that, it is necessary that society is rid of intellect and the ability to reason. And because universities are a place of logic and scientific reasoning, so naturally we come under fire. Your Brahmanwadi RSS Hindutva nationalism and corporate agenda have taken the oath to destroy the principles under which universities are run.

Your political ideology does not believe in multiculturalism, and we stand with multiculturalism. We do not expect any mercy. You can bring in your might, and we will also gather our strength and courage and counter you.

The last thing I want to say. Once somebody had protested outside your house, and you had come before the cameras and pretended to cry and spoke of how scared your children were, but my mother, is not crying. Yes, she is a bit worried, but even so she is going on saying, ‘Modi se ladte rehna, darna mat.’

Signing off,

As you made me, “deshdrohi”

Anant Prakash Narayan

Ex Vice President


The letter, as it originally appeared, is available here.