What The World Is Saying About JNU
The JNU protests have sparked much outrage in the country since student union Kanhaiya Kumar's arrest. The rapid developments in the case along with the bigger issue of the right to dissent in the world's biggest democracy were bound to catch the curiosity of the international media. Almost all news houses have come out in overwhelming support for JNU students, while condemning the government for unwarranted arrests and blowing up the matter beyond proportion.
The Guardian carried a piece during the early days of the protest:
The reaction of authorities to the protests at JNU – which is well-known for its politically active student body – comes against a background of what critics say is rising intolerance in India since Narendra Modi's BJP came to power in a landslide election 2014.The government has repeatedly been accused of seeking to repress free speech and of encouraging extremist nationalists who systematically intimidate critics.
The Guardian also carried an opinion piece by Priyamvada Gopal on the issue:
Kumar had noted correctly that the forces of “Hindu India” now most vociferous in laying claim to true patriotism were not only notably absent in the actual freedom struggle but were often to be seen collaborating with the British. Subject now to open thuggery – as well as state force, there have been astonishing scenes of lawyers beating up JNU students in court – dissenters have been arrested or are being hunted down.
The BBC too carried a piece on l'affaire JNU by Sanjoy Majumder:
JNU is often seen as an Indian Berkeley, strongly influenced by the political left and frequently rallying around diverse causes - from ideological debates on India's education system, to communal riots, to global issues such as the war on terror.
The Washington Post carried a report on the issue:
Hundreds of angry students protested Kumar's arrest and are accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government of trying to control student activism on campuses.
A report in the Los Angeles Times reads:
Critics have pounced on the Indian government for what they describe as a widening crackdown against student protests over the past year. In each case, the student demonstrators have been accused by BJP officials and authorities of anti-national behaviour. Kumar is the first student to face charges of sedition, under a colonial-era statute that was enacted to protect the country's former British rulers but is now often used to discipline government critics.
Nilanjana Roy wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times:
Flowers and words of hope: These are small things to hold out against the toxic lies of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (B.J.P.) and its violent pseudo-nationalist propaganda. The (government's) message is clear: Violence in the name of ultra-nationalism is acceptable. Not even the courts are safe spaces. Challenge the state, or the B.J.P., at your peril.
On Feb 22, the editorial board of the New York Times published a piece on what they called India's crackdown on dissent:
Thousands of students and faculty at universities across India have turned out to protest in recent days. These Indian citizens are right to voice their outrage at government threats to the exercise of their democratic rights. Mr. Modi must rein in his ministers and his party, and defuse the current crisis, or risk sabotaging both economic progress and India's democracy.
Al Jazeera too carried a piece on the protests students in JNU:
Modi is perceived by his critics as a deeply polarising figure and has been accused of fostering sectarian prejudice and authoritarian tendencies. The government has also been accused of trying to repress free speech and tacitly ignoring extremist nationalists who intimidate critics of the BJP.
Amnesty International has also issued a statement joining the chorus accusing India for "supporting a climate of intolerance by cracking down on dissent through arbitrary arrests, caste-based discrimination, extrajudicial killings and attacks on freedom of expression."
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