By K.N. Pandita
It is almost three weeks that Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), the ‘prestigious” university of India is aflame. What makes it prestigious? In forty-six years of its life, it did not produce a single Nobel laureate, a single outstanding thinker, a Prime Minister or chief minister or a single social figure of national or international repute. It does not figure among 200 top universities of the world.
But of course, it is special for the heftiest budget it annually receives from the HRD Ministry; it is special because handpicked and assorted band of students get about three lakh rupees per head per annum subsidy from the tax payer to pick up knowledge or the tricks of sedition, he does not know. Additionally, they get a slew of facilities like frequent national and international trips, accommodation in hostels at just rupees twelve per month in the heart of Lutyen’s Delhi while non-subsidized student pays a rent of 5-8 thousand rupees for a small private single room in the locality of Munirka just outside JNU Campus. It is prestigious for organizing anti-national and pro-Pakistan propaganda functions under the rubric of cultural programmes; it is prestigious because country’s super intelligence organization is able to perpetrate general loot of tax payer’s money through the instrumentality of so-called “expertise” of its faculties without being called to account. And it is prestigious because the politicians with divisive agenda make deep inroads into its student community assemblies by brandishing ideology of Marx and Lenin without, of course, taking the trouble of understanding or practicing an iota of the same. And, not surprisingly, it is a university of its kind for the bizarre discovery made by an MLA of Alwar of 3,000 condoms, 2000 beer bottles, 10,000 cigarettes, 500 abortion vaccine syringes and bagful of drugs consumed by the Lal Salam offering inmates of the “prestigious” university every day.
How ironic that an institute of learning incepted in the name of the foremost among classical patriots and national heroes, Jawaharlal Nehru, should become the cesspool of sedition and immorality. Can there be a bigger disservice to and defamation of the great national figure?
Little did its founders know that the institution expected to infuse the spirit of nationalism and national integrity into the student community, as enjoined in its constitution so as to become the lodestar for generations of patriotic Indian intellectuals, would be hijacked by elements working for disintegration of the country? Nehru often used to say that India has no external threat; the real threat is from internal subversion. And today here we are face to face with the Frankenstein.
How did JNU transform from a seat of leaning into a cesspool of sedition? It is beyond one’s imagination to compute the enormous funds successive Congress governments have invested in JNU, plus the slew of facilities offered to the student and teaching community. Students and teachers in any other university in the country will not even dream of it.
Around the latter half of the decade of 1930, when freedom struggle was in progress, Congress floated Muslim Mass Contact Programme with Dr. Ashraf, a Rajput Meo from Rajasthan, in the driver’s seat. He set up his work office in Anand Bhawan, adjacent to Nehru’s personal library to which he had easy access. Dr. Ashraf visited Kashmir in 1938 and again in 1939, probably on the behest of Nehru. This was the period when Kashmiri popular leader, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah was having second thoughts about his camaraderie with Muslim Conference led by Jammu and Mirpur Muslim leadership with affinity to Indian Muslim League.
Drawing support from Nehruvian ideology, Ashraf established contact with Kashmiri students at Allahabad University at that point of time, and cultivated two sharpest of them, namely Niranjannath Raina and Dwarkanath Kachru, as he found them amenable to socialist briefings. It was in the private library of Nehru where these young Kashmiri students at Allahabad University rummaged through the primary Marxist-Leninist literature, albeit with the patronage of Dr. Ashraf. Niranjannath Raina once told this writer that he distinctly remembered the passages underlined by Nehru in pencil in various primary works of socialist ideologues.
At this point of time, the Great Game in Central Asia, floated by Lord Curzon was at its zenith. Bolshevik Revolution had succeeded in Russia, and Stalin had formulated Soviet Union’s Central Asian policy based on Lenin’s famous 1917 “Address to the Peoples of the East”. The British Indian Government mounted vigil on Kashmir, particularly Gilgit, where the northern boundary of Dogra kingdom met with that of Kyrgyzstan, the nascent southern State of Soviet Turkestan. The British Agent in Srinagar had claimed that Soviet spies had been spotted somewhere in the area of Chitral.
As part of Great Game in Central Asia, the British Raj carved out Gilgit Agency from the territory of the Maharaja and took it into direct control in 1935. The Gilgit Commiserate was established and a local force called Gilgit Scouts was raised with British officers commanding the columns. For the British the second line of defence in Kashmir was thrown up by polarizing Kashmir politics.
After Sheikh Abdullah dumped Muslim Conference in 1939, and founded National Conference, he pandered to the political philosophy of Indian National Congress, and feigned secularism against two-nation theory. Local Left made strong dent in National Conference and the famous NC Manifesto called Naya Kashmir was drafted in the name of Rajini Palm Dutt, the General Secretary of British Socialist Party in London but in reality authored by Kashmiri Pandit ideologue N.N. Raina, borrowing extensively from the constitution of Uzbekistan, the most prominent state of Soviet Turkestan at that time.
Sheikh Abdullah’s camaraderie with the Left in J&K helped him in consolidating Kashmiri peasantry as NC’s powerful rural lobby symbolized by the party flag. NC’s 1944 annual convention in Sopor was eventful in the sense that Congress heavy weights like Nehru and Maulana Azad were present at its main session. Nehru had not failed to note that Sheikh Abdullah’s address to the annual convention was interspersed with self-rule cacophony. It served precursor to his Quit Kashmir slogan of 1945-46, which warmed up the hearts of India observers in London. The flag of NC (red base and symbol of plough) did more miracles for the Sheikh than his sonorous recitation of scripture from public pulpits.
Yet strangely, Raina rejected Dr. Ashraf’s suggestion that he become Private Secretary to Nehru. On my asking why he had declined, Dr. Raina told me that he found Nehru a half-baked socialist; he could not go along with him ideologically. It was on Raina’s suggestion that Dwarkanath Kachru was taken as Nehru’s private secretary. Unfortunately, shortly Kachru met with his untimely death in an air crash over Banihal pass.
The minority cell in the Congress patronized by Nehru and pushed by activists like Dr. Ashraf made inroads into small tolerant segment of Indian Muslims who gave it the name of progressive movement. It manifested vigorously in Urdu literature to be called Taraqqi pasand tahreek. After independence, Nehru and his progressive team among Muslim intellectuals thought that he had made a great contribution of liberating Indian Muslims from intellectual freeze of several centuries. He strongly defended his conviction, and perhaps on idealistic count, he cannot be faulted.
Nevertheless, the fault line was that Nehru treated Indian Muslims in exclusiveness, trying to delink them from the Islamic world in general and Pakistan in particular. For any astute historian, this was unrealistic and historically indefensible. Surrounded by a circle of diehard sycophants, Nehru, like every half-baked socialist, began to believe in his own myth.
When Jawaharlal Nehru University was incepted in 1969, the “progressive brigade” among the Indian Muslim intellectuals looked at it as the custodian of their ideological metamorphosis. Aligarh Muslim University, the well-established institution founded and nurtured by Muslim scholars, intellectuals and philanthropists was not open to socialist ideological inroads. There was no other institute in Northern India that could become the rendezvous for these “progressive thinkers” and coffee-house goers.
With the passage of time, this group, whether as the faculty of the JNU or as student community, came into ideological conflict with the staunch nationalists on the campus. Realizing the need to reinforce their intellectual exclusiveness, the “progressive” groups took quick and decisive steps to fraternize with JNU Left where, exploiting Nehruvian line, it had become a fashion to be counted among the adherents of Left ideology. Indira Gandhi had little time and less capacity to fathom academic nuances in making at the JNU. For cleverer ones among the JNU alumni, chances were fair to grab sensitive bureaucratic posts in the MEA and other Ministries and organizations. Their tribe increased fairly well when the spoiler of Shimla talks, P.N. Haksar, Principal Secretary to Indira Gandhi held her under a spell. JNU became his private fief.
The “progressives” became camp followers and strong supporters of the Left in JNU student union elections. Then also was introduced the progressive culture of conducting mushairas (poetic symposia), and a host of cultural programmes with palpable though guarded pro-Leftist slant. With this development, subdued tensions among the groups of students also began to grow in JNU. All these developments were accompanied by the proverbial recklessness of the youth. Some thought that the JNU was gradually shifting from an academic institute to political battleground. Its managers stuck out their necks with pride feigning influence in the corridors of power. Actually, student community began to be exploited and used for political motives.
The rise of armed insurgency in Kashmir in later part of 1980s had nothing to do with what was brewing in JNU at that time. However, Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979 had reverberations on the campus. Iranian Embassy in New Delhi became very active in overtly selling the concept of export of Iranian Islamic revolution propounded by Imam Khomeini. A couple of its propagators clandestinely visited Kashmir in early 1980s and even a bank owned by the Shia community in Mumbai opened its branch in Rajbagh, Srinagar. However, alerted by the networking of Iranian Shia revolutionaries among Sunni dominated regions of Asian countries, Saudi Arabia embarked on massive retaliatory campaign in Sunni dominated regions, more conspicuously including Kashmir where Pakistan was already active.
After the armed insurgency broke out with full force in Kashmir in early 1990, and entire Kashmir polity shifted its goal post, Indian policy in Kashmir and safeguarding the secular fabric of the valley proved to be abysmally in shambles. Denigration of Sheikh Abdullah and NC line became a priority with Pakistan-backed separatists. When the western media publicized Kashmir insurgency as freedom struggle, Pakistan felt it necessary to back up her Kashmir perfidy with making dent into Indian intellectual structure. Sections of shameless media continue to be the beneficiaries of their external funding sources.
There was no looking back for Kashmir radicals, separatists and secessionist. Enormous funds provided by the Saudi sources immensely strengthened the engines of anti-India propaganda. Externally abetted secessionists found JNU a haven for their underground seditious activities and then a vast network of anti-national chapter came to be formed. The actors were mostly sections of Indian media persons, pseudo-intellectuals, pseudo-academia and the perverted think tank. Indian polity churned Jaichands and Mir Jafars who built bastions of anti-national propaganda in prestigious educational institutes.
The “progressive” brigades spread over the length and breadth of the country and supported by the orthodoxy as well as the rootless Leftist/lumpen camp followers, now cast aside the long sustained mask and made common cause with the Muslim world projecting itself as the victimized and vandalized segment of humanity at the hands of the blood-sucking leeches in the oil rich Gulf. For the “fundamentali- zed Left” and “radicalized progressive” in JNU, democratic America is the enemy and democratic India is the enemy, not the conservative monarchy of Saudi or the barbaric ISIS of the Caliphate. Therefore, raising slogans against India, disrespecting tricolor, celebrating the massacre of a hundred CRP jawans by Naxals, denigrating Indian army and attacking air base in Pathankot or many other places in J&K, all is what they claim enjoying the right to freedom of speech and action and hence permissible under Indian Constitution.
In our country, the history is in making, events are carried on the crest of waves flowing from different climes and regions of the world. Nehru’s prediction comes true that if India faces a threat it is from internal subversion.