Fear and terror’
daylight only goes to show the brazen impunity that some people feel they enjoy under the present regime. I do not know who he was or what the forces behind him are. That is for the police to investigate. But I want to state here that if something untoward had happened yesterday, or if it were to happen tomorrow, do not just hold that unidentified gunman responsible. The real culprits are those who from their seats of power have been breeding an atmosphere of hatred, of bloodlust and fear. The real culprits are those who have provided an atmosphere of complete impunity for assassins and mob lynchers. The real culprits are those spokespersons of the ruling party and the prime time anchors and TV channels who have spread canards about me, branded me anti-national based on lies and virtually incited a lynch-mob against me. This has specifically made my life extremely vulnerable.
For the past two and a half years, based on absolute lies, they have been saying that I am anti-national. I want to challenge them. If you are so confident that I gave those slogans, why don’t you bring this to court? [The university had rusticated him for allegedly raising “anti-national” slogans in a February 9, 2016, incident.] The Delhi Police have not been able to file a charge sheet to begin with.
Some people have implied that the attack is a publicity stunt.
BJP MP [Meenakshi Lekhi] and BJP supporters are saying this. I find it quite funny and I pity them. I have not yet accused the BJP, but they are being defensive. Do they have something to hide? I am saying let the investigation begin. Why is it that even before the investigation has begun they are commenting on the specifics? There is a saying in Hindi: chor ki dadhi mein tinka [have a guilty conscience]. I am alive, that’s why they are saying this. Had I been dead they would have said this was a task of left-wing extremism. The BJP should be worried how a gunman arrived at Constitution Club. There was a programme of the BJP going on at Constitution Club that day. Aren’t they concerned?
Are you getting police protection?
I made a formal request for police protection for the first time in March 2016 but haven’t received it yet. I have been given death threats several times and have received threats and [there are] inciteful messages on social media every day. After Gauri Lankesh’s assassination, my name featured on a hit list. Two months ago, Jignesh Mevani and I got a threat from the don Ravi Poojary that he would kill us if we did not stop talking against the government. An environment is being created so that certain people can be attacked if they continue to express their views. There is danger to their families and friends as well. But if they think this will silence the people, then no. After Gauri Lankesh, [Narendra] Dabholkar and [Govind] Pansare’s murders, the voices didn’t diminish, they increased. Rohith Vemula died, but several Rohith Vemulas are standing up today.
Your PHD submission was a longdrawn out and frustrating process.
It was bizarre that for two and a half years it was said again and again on television that we are students who are not interested in academics, that we have taken admission in JNU because it offers us subsidised food and accommodation, and that we have come here for our political canvassing and networking. Or worse, to engage in anti-national activities. Now two and a half years later, when I go with a body of work that proves my academic credentials, proves that I have also been academically researching through all this period while being involved in so many other things, I am not allowed by the administration to submit it. The administration is made up of faculty members, and I was thinking which faculty member in the world has a problem with a student submitting his PHD thesis?
The Vice Chancellor may be a supporter of the BJP, I may be an opponent of the BJP, but that is not the primary relationship in the university for a student and a teacher. Here was the first teacher I saw who has a problem with a student pursuing academics. It was also ironical that in the last two and a half years, twice the Vice Chancellor tried to throw me out of the university, but when I actually went to submit my PHD, he wouldn’t let me submit it and leave. It was extremely frustrating to run around courts to submit a piece of academic work. It was an attempt at harassment, but it was also a more sinister conspiracy.
The police have not been able to proceed with a criminal case against us under IPC Section 124 A (sedition). But the propaganda continues. They are desperate for some legal vindication. They know if the matter goes to court, the accusations will not stand. I am confident about my innocence. So instead, they want to punish us through the Vice Chancellor’s court, which is the High Level Enquiry Committee. Just before our PHD submission, they put us in a catch-22 situation. They said, ‘If you