Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) president and All India Students Federation (AISF) leader Kanhaiya Kumar will visit Jammu and Kashmir in the second week of April.
According to reports, Kanhaiya will address a public meeting at Lal Chowk located in the heart of Srinagar and will also attend a seminar at the University of Jammu.
This won’t be his first visit to the state as Kanhaiya has visited J&K some three years ago. But this visit will be in the centre of India’s attention given that it comes after the JNU controversy.
It will be interesting to watch whether he gets permission to attend the events as both BJP-PDP has reached an agreement to form a government in the state.
Kanhaiya had sparked controversy when, on the occasion of International Women’s Day, he alleged that some Indian army personnel rape women in Jammu and Kashmir.
Former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah had then slammed his comments against the Army and said that anyone who speaks against the defense forces is not a right person.
Kanhaiya recently visited Hyderabad to address students . He is on interim bail for six months after sedition charges.
However, when everybody talks about freedom of speech in the Universities, institutions in J&K are an exception.
Student politics in Kashmir University is banned. Following the 2009 protests in the Valley, the students’ union office was demolished by authorities.
Speaking on student politics Vice-Chancellor of Kashmir University, Professor Khursheed Andrabi, in an interview with a local paper, said:
“I support it. But student activism cannot be at the cost of the institution. Such activism behoves those institutions which have made a name for themselves. On one hand, we are lagging behind in many areas and on the other hand we talk about student activism. Only a university like Jawahar Lal Nehru University can afford to have student activism.”
Kashmir University has witnessed many protests against the security forces and the state establishment. ‘Aazadi’ and pro-Pakistani slogans have rocked the campus many times in the past.
Students have been demanding that the ban on student politics should be lifted so that a healthy atmosphere is created in the campus.
A report compiled by Intelligence Bureau on ‘Radicalisation in Kashmir University’ blamed the faculty for the rise in number of students joining militancy.
However, Vice-Chancellor of Kashmir University Dr. (Prof) Khurshid Iqbal Andrabi rejected the report as false and asked the IB to come up with some “concrete evidences if there is some truth in it”.
“They have failed in their duties and now they are passing the buck on us. We are a learned society and we teach students here.”
The visit of Kanhaiya Kumar will now be more imperative in the backdrop of the ban on student politics and the question of whether he will raise the “Aazadi” slogan from the campus in case he gets access.