SHORT DURATION DISCUSSION ON SITUATION ARISING IN CENTRAL INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION WITH SPECIFIC REFERENCE TO JAWAHARLAL NEHRU UNIVERSITY AND UNIVERSITY OF HYDERABAD
SHRI SITARAM YECHURY (WEST BENGAL): Mr. Deputy Chairman, Sir, I am initiating this discussion on the notice, that you have read out, with a deep sense of anguish, anger and anxiety of what is going to happen to our country because, I believe, what happened in the Hyderabad Central University and what happened in the JNU are not matters confined to only one or two educational institutions in our country. You have seen what happened with the Pune Institute. You have seen what happened with the IIT, Chennai. You have seen what is happening in the Jadhavpur University, apart from Hyderabad and JNU. You have seen what is happening in Allahabad. You have seen what is happening in Burdwan. You are seeing in various places that these sorts of incidents are happening. And I would like to submit here that it is not only the case with Institutes of Higher Education and Universities but also with institutions like the ICHR, ICSSR and the Nehru Memorial Museum. In all these institutions, you see an interference of an order that is not sanctioned by law. Every single institution, every Central University, has been established by an Act of Parliament. It runs on the basis of an Act of Parliament. And if this Act of Parliament is violated, it is our duty to intervene and ensure that such violations are put an end to. Therefore, at the outset, I am demanding that we should constitute a House Committee to, actually, go into all these developments in the Hyderabad University and in the JNU because it is our responsibility to answer these questions that have been raised. Now having made this point, I would come to the substantive points. You see an effort, in the field of higher education and education in general, of what I would describe as an effort to replace Indian history, the synchronic evolution of Indian history, what all of us are products of and what we have gained, with Hindu mythology. To replace history with mythology, to replace the rich Indian philosophy with Hindu theology, is the larger project at work and this project, actually, dovetails with the project which this Government is patronising, the project of metamorphosing India's Secular, Democratic, Republic into what they call the Hindu Rashtra. This, therefore, is an assault on the Constitution of India, as I conceive. And, unfortunately, this Government is leading this insurrection against the Indian Constitution, against the Republic of India. Now, let me substantiate why I say that. Let us take up the issue relating to the Hyderabad Central University briefly. All of us know what happened in terms of how these Dalit students had been treated. Whatever has happened in the past, there were a large number of Dalit students who committed suicides in that University, and we all know that. But that doesn't absolve what has happened now with the tragic suicide of Rohith Vemula. These students were socially ostracised. Their scholarships were stopped. And a Dalit student, whose single parent, his mother, brought up two of her sons in order to reach Institutes of Higher Education through, you know, the kind of jobs that the Dalits can do in our country. Through that, she has brought up her children. And, stopping their scholarships, actually, means virtually murdering them. You do that and then you create a situation where the students commit suicide! Yes, we were told that an hon. Minister of this Government wrote a letter about some clash between two student groups. The proctorial inquiry of the University took place. The matter was settled. After that, there was an intervention and we have been told that all of you write letters to the Minister. Yes, we all write letters to the Minister. There is nothing wrong. I have also written letters to the Minister about various things happening in various central universities. I have written letters to the Minister asking for admission in Central Schools, that is outside my Constituency or my remit. Writing letters to the Minister is no offence. All of us do it. Many a time we get an acknowledgement saying that your letter has been received and the matter is being looked into. Receiving letters with acknowledgement is also the job of a Minister. So, it is not ordinary letters that are being written and answers given. You have five senior officers of the Ministry intervening, telling the University to take action. That is a partisan intervention and that partisan intervention is not according to any Constitutional foundations of basics in our country, and that is what we are saying that the Government has exceeded the brief of answering only letters or that all of us are writing letters to the Minister, we all will do as long as we are public servants and, therefore, the matter here is, through this intervention, a situation has been created that led to this tragic death. We have been demanding, Sir, when we had the two-day Special Session of Parliament, to pay homage to Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar, we have said, mere peroration and speeches is not sufficient to pay homage. Come with concrete legislative agenda. Come with agenda why you will discuss, after 60 years, why is this not being fulfilled, even the limited objective of reservations, how, due to privatisation in the economic policies the public sector is being curtailed and reservations in jobs that the public sector could pervade are shrinking by the day, need for considering reservations in the private sector. We said, bring in this question of implementation of the SC/ST laws. Make it more punitive. But nothing of that was done. If you are really concerned about the role of the Dalits, pay homage to Dr. Ambedkar. And what did he say, Sir, finally? I have quoted it a number of times, and I don't want to repeat the entire quotation, that we have given ourselves a political structure where we have given every citizen of ours a vote. Each vote has the same value. 'One person, one vote'; 'one vote, one value'. Dr. Ambedkar wonders if this 'one vote, one value' does not change rapidly into 'one person, one value'. Then this political structure will not remain. It will be thrown asunder. This is what Dr. Ambedkar warned and what are we doing in that direction? We will discuss that when the Motion of Thanks on President's Address comes. When the Budget comes, we will discuss what we are doing there. But the point is, creating an egalitarian society where, as the Constitution, promises, we give, "irrespective of caste, creed and sex", equality. That is the equality that we have given to ourselves in this Constitution and that is being violated. This is a very serious matter; that goes beyond some trouble in the university. This is a serious matter of what is the State's role in intervention and if the State promotes this role of intervention that is anti-Dalit, that is something we in the Parliament will have to take note of because that University was created by an Act. You and I passed here and if we don't take note of it and suggest interventive action, then, I am sorry, we are abandoning our responsibility and therefore, I raised this with a sense of anxiety, with a sense of anger and anguish. Now, I come to JNU, Sir. We have been products of Jawaharlal Nehru University. The Ministers in this Cabinet have been products of Jawaharlal Nehru University. At the outset, we had said, the day after that I met the hon. Home Minister. He was here a little while ago. I met the hon. Home Minister, along with our colleagues, Shri D. Raja and Shri K. C. Tyagi, and we told him that if there is anybody who has raised anything anti-national, take action on the basis of credible evidence. You assured us that no innocent will be punished; we were assured of that. Immediately comes a reference to a tweet by a noted terrorist -- Hafiz Saeed -- who was let loose by an earlier BJP Government saying that Hafiz Saeed supported the students. Now, can you imagine a situation in any country where the Union Home Minister, the repository of all inputs from intelligence agencies, gives a tweet and retracts? He did that on Pathankot. He tweets on Hafiz Saeed and retracts! And, Delhi Police puts out an alert saying that this is a false tweet account. You are proceeding on a false tweet account! By all means, let me assure this House -- we have done it on umpteen times -- any antinational act or any act that encourages terrorism is something that should be dealt with and strictest action must be taken. But, in the name of that, penalizing the university as a whole, I think, is most unfortunate. It is because, these youngsters today, what Sardar Patel had once called, are the 'Steel Frame of India.' The Steel Frame of India is your Administrative Service, Foreign Service, Police Service, media, academia, intelligence, etc. I can name the officers today in this Government who are the products of JNU and heading various departments, cells, etc. Madam External Affairs Minister is here. The Foreign Secretary of our country is from the JNU. The Home Minister is not here. But the Special Cell you have created to take care of terrorist threats emanating from the ISIS and the impending danger to India is headed by a JNU student.
AN HON. MEMBER: Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman is also from JNU.
SHRI SITARAM YECHURY: Hopefully, they know that she is from JNU. I don't want to remind them of that. Sir, where all do you wants me to go? There is no field where these students have not excelled. And, today, you castigate the entire university as being anti-national! You said that these students are the enemies of our country. What is happening, Sir? Nathuram Godse, the murderer of Mahatma Gandhi, will be national hero and Sitaram Yechury and the Deputy Chairman will be anti-national! Is this the nationalism we have to see? You are saying, to instill nationalism in students, there will be a huge national flag in every Central University. It is about 207 feet. Very good. You put it all over the country. But, remember, the Tricolour in our hearts, the National Flag in our hearts, is much larger than all the National Flags that they can put together and you don't have to teach us desh bhakti. We don't want certificates of patriotism by these sorts of double standards that they practice. I come from a student organisation. I headed JNU representing that student organisation. We all come and with pride we used to say this. One of our colleagues was attacked by a terrorist in Assam. His body was cut. I will name him if you want. But, he is dead and gone as a martyr. He is Niranjan Talukdar. His body was cut, put in a gunny bag and thrown into a well. It could not be found for more than a month. Later, through forensic tests of his teeth, it was confirmed that it was his body. What was the slogan we gave in JNU at that time, Sir? We gave a slogan, “हमारे जिस्म टुकड़े-टुकड़े हो सकते हैं, लेकिन हम इस देश के टुकड़े नहीं होने देंगे।” हम इस टेरिरज्म के ख़िलाफ़ खड़े हैं और आज हमारे लिए देशभिक्त के इस तरीके के प्रवचन होते हैं! अगर यहाँ पर कोई समस्या है, तो आप उसको हल करने की कोशिश करिए।
Sedition Act, उसमें महात्मा गाँधी को जेल भेजा गया, उसमें बाल गंगाधर तिलक को जेल हुई। आज़ादी के समय हम सबसे यह वादा किया गया था कि हम उस Sedition Act को अपने कानून से निकाल देंगे, लेकिन उसे नहीं निकाला गया। भगत सिंह प्यार से फाँसी चूमते हुए इस देश के अन्दर शहीद हुए इसी Sedition Act के अन्दर और आज इस Sedition Act को आप अपने स्टूडेंट्स के ऊपर इस्तेमाल करते हैं। जब वे अपनी बात कहने के लिए उठते हैं, तो उनके ऊपर हमला होता है। माननीय गृह मंत्री जी, दिल्ली की पुलिस आपके अंडर है। दिल्ली के पुलिस कमिश्नर कहते हैं कि 'until they prove their innocence, they are guilty.' पुलिस कमिश्नर किमÌनर कहते हैं कि inverting the principle of jurisprudence. लीडर ऑफ द हाउस, जो माननीय वकील हैं, आप यह बताइए कि सर, कहां से न्याय हुआ? और, वहां पर उनकी पिटाई होती है, मीडिया में दिखाई देता है, सरकार की तरफ या अथॉरिटीज की तरफ जो एविडेंस देते हैं, जो भी है, यह प्रूव होता है कि वह सब डॉक्टर्ड है, वह फेब्रीकेटिड है। अगर आवाज उठाएं, तो उनको कोर्ट में पीटो। सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने उधर पिटयाला कोर्ट में एक टीम ऑफ लॉयर्स सुपरवाइज़ करने के लिए भेजी। उसके अंदर एक सदस्य वह थे, जो हमारे साथ राज्य सभा के अंदर रहे थे, फॉर्मर मिनिस्टर थे, उनकी पिटाई होती है। सर, देश में क्या हो रहा है? यही सवाल मैं गृह मंत्री महोदय से पूछना चाहता हूँ कि क्या हो रहा है? न्यायालय में न्याय दिलवाइए, वह नहीं हो सकता, तो पिटाई? और, पिटाई करने वाले के बारे में आज भी कोई शब्द नहीं। सुना है, बीजेपी के दिल्ली से एमएलए हैं। वे गर्व से कहते थे कि अपॉजीशन इतनी छोटी हो गई कि वे एक सिटी बस में घूम सकते हैं। दिल्ली चुनाव के बाद हमने कहा है कि दिल्ली में तो अब बीजेपी थ्री-व्हीलर में घूमेगी। उनमें से जाकर पिटाई करते हैं और कहते हैं कि मैं देश भक्त हूँ, मुझे पिटाई करने की इजाज़त है। कौन सच्चाई कहेगा? हमारे प्रधान मंत्री जी इतने देश घूम कर आए हैं, उसी विदेश के "न्यूयार्क टाइम्स" का आप एडिटोरियल पिढ़ए। Do you want me to read it out, Sir? Read out the New York Times editorial. It is a leader in the paper. It says, '' India is in the throes of a violent clash. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and its political allies on the Hindu right determined to silence dissent.'' The New York Times says this. "Lawyers and B.J.P. supporters chanting "glory to Mother India" and "traitors leave India" assaulted journalists and students. The police refused to intervene." This is by New York Times. Le Monde is one of the most respected papers in Europe. They have written editorials on to what is happening in India. What are all these foreign tours and getting support for India abroad if this is what is happening? That is where, Sir, I want to really draw your attention to the serious fact that why I have said it is insurrection against the Constitution. The Constitution gives me the rights. A Secular Democratic India, धर्मनिरपेक्ष , जनतंत्र का गणतंत्र भारत है। उस भारत में मैं पैदा हुआ हूँ। मेरे हिसाब से यहां कई सारे लोग हैं, जो भारत में पैदा हुए हैं। हमारे लिए भगवद-गीता, हमारे लिए बाइबल, हमारे लिए कुरान, यह जो कंस्टीटूशन हैऔर इस कंस्टीटूशन के चलते हुए आप हमें जो अधिकार देते हो, हर नागिरक को देते हो, इस कंस्टीटूशन की शपथ लेकर हम यहां पर आए हैंऔर आप वहां पर बैठे हो। यह सरकार यहां कंस्टीटूशन की शपथ लेकर बैठी है। इसके अंदर अगर कोई आपकी नीतियों का विरोध करता है, अगर कोई आपके खिलाफ कुछ नारा लगाता है, तो वह देशद्रोही है? मैंने सुना है कि आज़ादी के नारे लगे हैं।बिलकुल लगे हैं आज़ादी के नारे, हम भी लगाते रहे हैं। हमें अरेस्ट करिए। हम चाहते हैं आज़ादी भूख से, हम चाहते हैं आज़ादी बेकारी से, हम चाहते हैं आजादी मनुवाद से।...(व्यवधान).. हम चाहेंगे आज़ादी संघवाद से भी। ....(व्यवधान)... और यह आज़ादी हम चाहते हैं। ...(व्यवधान)...यह आजादी हम चाहते हैं। इस आजादी के लिए हम लड़ेगे। इसका अिधकार मुझे यह कंस्टीटूशन देता है। इसिलए मैं कह रहा हूँऔर नैशनलिस्म का सवाल आ गया।...(व्यवधान)... गुरुदेव रविंद्रनाथ की किताब है, आप चाहे तो हम आपको भेंट कर सकते हैं। आप इसको पढ़ लीजिए। जिन्होंने जन गण मन लिखा था, जिसको हमने स्वीकार किया था, जिसे सुनकर हम अटेंशन में खड़े होते हैं, वह हमारी अपने देश के लिए इज्जत है। इन लोगों के लिए, आप कहते हो कि वही नैशनलिस्म है, जो हम कहेंगे। इस नैशनलिस्म से ऊपर उठकर रविंद्रनाथ टैगोर, सुभाष चंद्र बोस, महात्मा गांधी, सब लोगों ने लिखा है। What is India, Sir? We are the crucible, these lands are the crucible of civilisational advance of the humanity. It is not just in our country. We gave the world so many things because of which modern civilization exists today as it is. And to say all these are products of Hindu civilization is wrong. Most of these advances came when Buddhism was the reigning religion in our country, and it is only when it came back with the caste hierarchical order, Manuvaad, as we call it, जिससे हमें आज़ादी चाहिए, तब यह जो पूरा advance है, वह रुक गया। And we want to catch those threads. अगर दारा शिकोह की बात कहें, तो ये कहेंगे कि यह बाबर की औलाद है। जिसने संस्कृत पढ़ कर मजमा-उल- बहरीन लिखा और आज अगर दुनिया वेद और उपनिषद के बारे में जानती है, तो वह काम दारा शिकोह ने करवाया। वह बाबर की औलाद है। Majma-Ul-Bahrain of Islamic Sufism and Vedantic Indian Traditions, 'The Mingling Of The Two Oceans', India was moving to a much higher spiritual society, Sir. We were moving to a much higher spiritual society that has been thwarted. And, therefore, I am beseeching this House to seriously think about it, not of one offence or two offences, by all means, if anybody has taken anti-Indian position or anti-Indian activity, take action. But in the name of that, you are castigating an entire university. And is that what all of us here have come to? Sir, I have quoted in this House a number of times earlier, Ashoka, the Trimurti, that you are sitting under, the four-lion pillar, inscribed on that pillar, from where we have taken the symbol of our nationhood. Inscribed on that Pillar is Ashoka's Edicts that irrespective of whatever sect anybody may follow, irrespective of whatever faith anybody may have, the job of the State is to protect that faith. In Bhagavad Gita, what does Lord Krishna say? Madam External Affairs Minister wants that to be the holy book of our country. But what does it say? It says that I shall preserve the faith of every individual in every form that he may choose for his faith. Are we doing that? I am seriously asking this. Are we doing that? Are we realizing today the potential of what India can be? Instead of that, you are confining it into a narrow domestic walls like Rabindranath Tagore said. 'Narrow domestic walls' whereby what I defined as nationalism is nationalism. Sir, I do not want to go into that. We have been, what you call, saying that the Left like witches. But remember, this is the 400th year of the birth of a genius; I don't know there is one man who wrote all that, William Shakespeare. He was one individual who wrote all the corpus that he wrote. Remember his play Macbeth, where there is a song of the witches. If you are comparing us with the witches, then, listen to this song. What does the song say? "Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble". And what does he say that is being produced? "For a charm of powerful trouble, Like a hell-broth boil and bubble". "Hell-broth boil and bubble". This is the song of the witches, and this is what is happening for a charm of powerful trouble. "Charm of powerful trouble, Like a hell-broth boil and bubble". Yes, we are witches; we forewarn. We are witches, Sir, and we forewarn what is going to happen. Like in Macbeth, the witches forewarn. Macbeth can be the king, but the lion of kings will come from Branquo. You may be the king today; the lion of kings in India will come from another Branquo, not from you. So, if you call us witches, then, also understand the prophesy of the witches, which comes out to be true. And being forewarned is being forearmed. That is why we are saying this. We are calling upon the people to be forearmed against this attack that is happening in the name of nationalism that is basically a certain brand of religiosity. Sir, you and I and all of us have grown up in this world. We have grown up in this country, where there are Islamic influences and Christian influences. I was born in a Hindu traditional family, had my Ved path done and thread ceremony done at the age of 11, and have studied all the Vedas. Then, you say, with a name like Sitaram, having read all the Vedas, why have you landed up as a Communist? I have landed up as a Communist because I have studied all of them. So, don't teach us all this. If you want to debate and argue, come, debate and argue, and that is how our philosophy grew, through debate and argument, and that is exactly what they want to suppress today, Sir. I say, do not suppress. Remember, our Prime Minister went to a convocation recently, at the Banaras Hindu University. So did Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru go to a convocation at the Allahabad University. In that Convocation of the Allahabad University, what did Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru say about the universities? I quote: "A university stands for humanism, for tolerance, for reason, for the adventure of ideas and for the search of truth. It stands for the onward march of the human race towards even higher objectives. If the universities discharge their duties adequately, then all is well with the people and the nation." So, it is an adventure of ideas, of tolerance, of humanism. And, you castigate that entire university! You say that it is anti-national and it needs to be closed down! Forty years ago, that used to be in the editorials in the Organizer, which said, 'it is a den of anti-national activity; it must be closed down.' Today, the leaders of the Ruling Party say that it must be closed down. Now, they are thinking of taking a tank there. Not only a flag, but now they want to take tanks there! Sir, whether it is the BJP or the Congress Party, I don't normally take names of parties -- yes, during Emergency, we did not allow the University Court meeting inside the university. Mrs. Indira Gandhi was our Chancellor. We said, "We are protesting against Emergency. We will not allow that meeting to be held here." It was taken to Vigyan Bhavan -- we have fought assaults on democracy. Likewise, today, with renewed vigour, people are fighting assaults on our secular order. They are fighting assaults on our secular order and, therefore, suppressing dissent is not what the Indian Constitution or the Indian democracy is about. Therefore, Sir, I really beseech you, let us decide today, after this debate, to have a House Committee to go into what is happening in all the Central Universities and institutions that we have established through an Act of the Parliament. Each one of them has a separate Act. We are responsible, finally, to the country if something goes wrong there. Bring it to us. And don't say we all write letters. We all do write letters; I am not ashamed of saying that. But our letters do not get the attention that your colleague Minister who gets it. Five officers go on reminding the University to take action against him. Rohit Vemula's death is a result of that. That is why, a Dalit, the slogan of 'azadi against manuvaad' will remain, Sir. If you wish to arrest me for that, arrest me. I will give that slogan. I will give the slogan of 'azadi against hunger'. I am ashamed of my country when of the five children that die every day in the world due to hunger three come from India. That is why I am saying, please do not castigate these students or the University. Please, stop this tirade against them in order to advance your brand of nationalism, in order to advance and transform the secular, democratic, Republic of India into a version of a theocratic, fascistic Hindu Rashtra. That is my sincere appeal. Therefore, Sir, through you, I want to beseech upon this Government, saying, look at the richness of our plural society, the richness of all of us who belong to different faiths, different castes, different languages and different cultures. We are all welded together in this great country called India. I have my point of view, you will have your points of view, they will have their points of view, and only with a debate and discussion do we rise to higher levels. Do not destroy that potential of India. Therefore, my appeal to this august House, my appeal, through you, to the Government and to all my colleagues, is, let us have a House Committee to inquire into what is happening, what is anti-national; let us punish it with the greatest vigour and let us redeem our pledge to remove the sedition clause which can be misused as is being misused. Let us ensure that the job of the police is to maintain law and order, not to assist the disruption of law and order, and let us for Heaven's sake be responsible to our Constitution and to our people, and that is my firm belief. मैं माफी चाहता हूँ। आज़ादी के नारे हम भी लगाएँगे। भूख से आज़ादी चाहिए, मनुवाद से आज़ादी चाहिए, गरीबी से आज़ादी चाहिए, इस देश को बेहतर बनाने के लिए जो भी इसका नुकसान कर रहा है, उससे आज़ादी चाहिए। ...(व्यवधान)... इसीलिए मैं यह कह रहा हूँ, याद रिखए। मैं बाबा साहेब की वार्निंग फिर से दोहरा रहा हूँ कि हर इंसान को एक वोट, हर वोट का मूल्य एक, लेकिन हर इंसान का मूल्य एक जब तक नहीं होगा, यह ढांचा खड़ा होने में दिक्कत होगी। ...(समय की घंटी)... उस आधार पर मेरी विनम्रता से यह अपील है कि इस तरीके के षड्यंत्र और अपने बच्चों पर अटैक बन्द कीजिए। ये ही बच्चे हैं, जो हमारे फ्यूचर हिंदुस्तान को बनाएँगे, भारत को बनाएँगे। अगर आप उनको देशद्रोही कह दो, तो आप और हम क्या कर लेंगे? हमारे देश की तीन-चौथाई आबादी नौजवान है। आप उसको स्वास्थ्य दो, उसको शिक्षा दो, उसको रोजगार दो, तो वह खुद एक बेहतर भारत बनाएगा, आपकी या हमारी कोई जरूरत नहीं है, हमारा काम सिर्फ यही है कि उन्हें वह दिलवाएँ। ...(समय की घंटी)... इसलिए मुझे विनम्रता के साथ यही कहना है कि आप इस तरह के अटैक्स बन्द कीजिए और हमारे देश के विकास के लिए, आगे बढ़ने के लिए हम सामूहिक तरीके से चलें। थैंक यू, सर।
(Disclaimer: This is the uncorrected verbatim version of the speech)