Members of the Indian and international academic community have come together in solidarity with the students and teachers of Jawaharlal Nehru University and condemned the Centre’s actions against them. Two separate statements are being circulated, with their lists of signatories including some of the biggest names in Western academia, including Noam Chomsky, Orhan Pamuk, Judith Butler, Arjun Appadurai, Partha Chatterjee and Homi Bhabha.
The statements decry the police action against the students as being illegal, and state that the university should be autonomous as “a non-militarised space for freedom of thought and expression.” The statements criticise the sedition charge brought against JNU students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar, saying he was arrested without any evidence of wrongdoing. All the protests on campus have been peaceful, they said, and the law stipulates the necessity of a call to violence.
They go on to add that the Centre’s action betrays “the culture of authoritarian menace that the present government in India has generated.” The academics also state that “an open, tolerant, and democratic society is inextricably linked to critical thought and expression cultivated by universities in India and abroad.”