NEW DELHI(PTI): Agitating students at JNU have set up a wall at the varsity’s administration block “To the jailed, with love” for supporters to leave messages for their friends charged with sedition.
The solidarity wall was full of messages not just from the students but also well-wishers from across the city, who have been participating in the ongoing protest. “For how long will you stifle our voices? We will rise from the ashes. This struggle will continue till we have you all back with us,” read a message. Scores of supporters gathered at JNU’s administration wing where students’ union organized an open house session.
Participants shared their opinion on issues such as freedom of speech, right to expression and the attitude of the police and government towards the ongoing row. “This issue is no longer about JNU it is about the general trend of silencing any voice that goes against a certain ideology. By giving participants a chance to voice their opinion we are encouraging a culture of debate and discussion which is the need of the hour,” Shehla Rashid, Vice-President, JNU Students’ Union, said.
The open house was followed by a lecture by Lawrence Liang, from Alternative Law Forum in Bengaluru, on freedom of speech. “There is a major need for creating a healthy environment of dissent and freedom of speech and expression. The whole legal framework which deals with sedition creates a wounded nationalism when there is any criticism,” Liang said. Liang compared the concept of freedom of speech to a gnat fly which buzzes in the ears of the king’s cavalcade
“Instead of shutting the buzz we need to include it as an element of nature,” he said. As a typical JNU event, music and sloganeering filled the air, but there was also a lingering disappointment. “These students do not deserve to be rotting in jail as victims of our judicial process. They are supposed to be here with fellow students to discuss and debate their ideological differences. What message are we sending to the coming generations? That you are only free to think till your ideas suit the majority conscience? This is a catastrophic situation,” said a student protester.