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JNU students challenge the Indian State, not the government

By Colonel Anil A Athale (retd)
February 19, 2016 14:27 IST
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IMAGE: JNU students protest against the police crackdown at the campus. Photograph: PTI

IMAGE: JNU students protest against the police crackdown on the campus. Photograph: PTI

Do the students who chanted pro-separatist slogans and their teachers/supporters want the army to withdraw from Kashmir or not fight the terrorists, asks Colonel Anil A Athale (retd).

The events at the Jawaharlal Nehru University and its echo in some other academic institutions reminds one of the Oxford University debate on February 9, 1933.

At that time the Oxford Student Debating Society voted by 257 votes to 153 that 'This house will in no circumstances fight for King and Country.'

Winston Churchill called the result nauseating. Some believe this helped Adolf Hitler make up his mind to launching the Second World War, believing the British had lost their will to fight.

The JNU fracas occurred against the backdrop of Dawood Gilani's (David Headley) testimony that clearly brought out that the Jaish-e-Mohamed and Lashkar-e-Tayiba had the full backing of the Pakistani army and its intelligence wing, the Directorate of Inter Services Intelligence.

These two terrorist organisations have made it clear time and again that their aim is the total destruction of India and not just snatching Kashmir.

Gilani/Headley's chilling disclosure that the terrorists intended to attack the National Defence College in Delhi to wipe out India's military leadership ought to be a wake up call.

This is not an empty threat or scare mongering for even earlier Pakistan-backed terrorists had attempted to wipe out Indian scientists. It was one of Bangalore's notorious traffic jams that saved many lives on the fateful night of December 29, 2005.

This, and many more startling facts, was revealed by Sabhahuddin, the man allegedly responsible for the Indian Institute of Science attack, during a narco-analysis test in Bangalore.

He confessed that the terror attack was botched up when his associate Abu Hamza, who was carrying the arms cache, was held up by a traffic jam.

He further revealed that the task had been assigned to them by Muzammil, the LeT's India-in-charge, who instructed them to target as many Indian professionals as possible. Muzammil explained to Sabhahuddin that these professionals were India's strength, and their death was bound to affect the country.

Former National Security Advisor M K Narayanan, writing in The Hindu on February 18, has clearly brought out that for the Pakistani 'Deep State' (the army and the ISI) the fight against India is a jihad.

Narayanan, a former director of the Intelligence Bureau, warns us against falling into the trap of a Historical Attention Span Deficit Disorder and forgetting the past. In the present 'toxic' atmosphere it is necessary to mention that Narayanan does not belong to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or the Bharatiya Janata Party.

If this is not war, then what is it?

As a former soldier, who spent the better part his youth on the mountains of Jammu and Kashmir (over 10 years), away from family and without any comforts of modern life (a kerosene lantern for lighting and a bunker for living), one is dismayed at the current anti-national chorus from some of our university students.

If this is the case with a former soldier, one can only imagine what a soldier battling elements at 20,000 feet on Siachen or facing Pakistani-sponsored terrorist in Kashmir would feel when he hears and sees the chant of slogans eulogising convicted terrorists!

Would a thought not occur to him that he is being stabbed in the back by the very people whom he is trying to protect?

Let us not forget for the moment that they sleep peacefully at home and have all these 'freedoms' because someone is doing his duty, even at the risk of his life and limb, keeping at bay the forces of darkness represented by the jihadis.

Do the students who chanted pro-separatist slogans want the army to withdraw from Kashmir or not fight the terrorists?

Those who sympathised with the attackers of Parliament must understand it was a lucky escape for the Indian subcontinent that thanks to the brave actions of the watch and ward staff in Parliament that the terrorists did not enter the Central Hall.

Had they done so, hundreds of MPs would have died and an India-Pakistan war was almost a certainty.

A conventional conflict between the two sides carries with it the danger of escalation to nuclear conflict. If it were to occur, millions of Indians and Pakistanis would die in the holocaust. Even the vaunted JNU would not survive such a catastrophe.

It is true that the JNU students hardly represent the country. If that were to be so, their pet hate object would not have become the prime minister with a clear majority in the 2014 election. But it nevertheless sends a message of disunity on even major national issues like the fight against terrorism.

The outrage and sympathies of the JNU types is highly selective. While these worthies support the separatist cause in Kashmir, they are blind to the fact that the only ethnic cleansing to take place since Independence has been in Kashmir.

Over 300,000 Kashmiri Pandits were hounded out of their homes and have been internal refugees for the last 25 years. The votaries of human rights and freedom of expression are not known to have ever raised their voices or challenged the Kashmiri separatists on this issue.

Young people are meant to be idealists and also quick to oppose authority, so criticism of the government or its policies is certainly legit and to be expected from those who see the world from rose-tinted glasses.

What the JNU students and their supporters are guilty of is not the challenge to the government, but a challenge to the State. The hanging of the terrorists was carried out after due process of law and that administrative decision was not even taken by the present government.

What one cannot understand is how some of the JNU faculty have sided with the misguided students. India can do without such a Fifth Column when it is engaged in a proxy war with an implacable neighbour.

Colonel Anil A Athale (retd) is a military historian.

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Colonel Anil A Athale (retd)