Some see the campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University as a “den of communists.” Others see vibrant student activism.
By Vishal Arora and the Delhi Photo Expedition for The Diplomat
November 30, 2016
The typical sight of students, with bags strapped on their backs, walking around on a campus does not arouse a photographer’s interest. However, when students of a prestigious university are accused of being “anti-nationals” and of throwing thousands of used liquor bottles and condoms in garbage bins daily, nothing can stop photographers from sneaking in.
That’s what a group of photo enthusiasts at the Delhi Photo Expedition did after Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), whose alumni include India’s finest intellectuals and bureaucrats, made headlines in India.
The campus has been in the news, including in international media, since the arrest of the JNU Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar on charges of sedition for allegedly chanting “anti-India” slogans in February.
Some see the campus as a “den of communists” thanks to its politically charged atmosphere dominated by leftist student organizations. This perhaps reveals the backdrop against which one can see the ongoing clash between sections of the university students and the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led federal government.
The news centers on a student who has been missing for more than 40 days after he had a tussle with a right-wing student organization linked to the BJP, a party which apparently views the whole culture of JNU as being “anti-national.”
“Daily, 2,000 Indian and foreign liquor bottles … more than 10,000 pieces of cigarettes … 50,000 big and small pieces of bones are found – the meat these traitors chew,” a BJP lawmaker told media after the arrest of Kumar. “So are 3,000 used condoms – the misdeeds they commit with our sisters and daughters there,” he continued. “And 500 used abortion injections (are also found). Also found are 100 silver colored papers, which are used for drugs along with lots of useless garbage.”
With this interesting knowledge on their minds and cameras in their hands, the Delhi photographers toured the campus, pointing their lenses at everything that caught their fancy. But to their utter “disappointment,” they couldn’t spot a condom or a beer bottle, although what they did find was not any less interesting.