As the sordid tale of morphed pictures, doctored videos, witch-hunting based on fake twitter handles and brutal violence against JNU students and faculty inside the court premises and outside begin to emerge, voices from various parts of the country and the world have affirmed their solidarity with JNU.
On 12 February a massive march took inside the campus demanding release of JNUSU president Com. Kanhaiya and withdrawal of sedition charges against other students. The march was led by the JNUSU and JNUTA and over 4000 students and teachers participated in the march. Besides leaders of the left, several other scholars and political leaders addressed the meeting held after the march.
The next day, students, faculty members, alumni and several others joined hands to form a nearly 3 km long human chain in JNU. The students and faculty of JNU have continued to stay in the ad-block, and holding a lecture series on ‘nationalism’ and the ‘idea of the nation’ in which lectures have been given by Prof. Ayesha Kidwai, Prof. Prabhat Patnaik, Prof. Nivedita Menon, Prof. G. Arunima, Prof. Vivek Kumar, noted journalist P. Sainath, among others.
Nearly 40 teachers’ associations from across campuses of this country have come out and expressed their solidarity with JNU. Teachers from some of the top universities in the world including Harvard, Oxford, Yale and Columbia have expressed their support to the JNU students. Nearly 455 faculty members from these and other universities worldwide have issued a joint statement condemning the state action on students and expressed solidarity with the JNU students. In the letter of support to JNU, they write, "JNU stands for a vital imagination of the space of the university — an imagination that embraces critical thinking, democratic dissent, student activism, and the plurality of political beliefs. It is this critical imagination that the current establishment seeks to destroy. And we know that this is not a problem for India alone". The teachers expressed a grave concern over the unfolding situation in JNU and termed the detention of students “illegal” and “autocratic”.
Noted scholars and writers like Noam Chomsky and Orhan Pamukh, besides other eminent scientists and writers across the world have also issued a strongly worded statement that says it is "evidence of the present government's deeply authoritarian nature, intolerant of any dissent". The letters of support have come from not just from the faculty, but even students from various universities who have sent their pictures holding the banners of ‘Stand with JNU.’
The Democratic Students’ Alliance, Pakistan sent a powerful statement of solidarity to the JNUSU and also organised protests on Pakistan campuses where students photographed themselves holding #StandWithJNU and #LetStudentsUnionize placards. In Bangladesh also, students organised protests in Dhaka in solidarity with JNU.
There were statements of protest from South Asia University (teachers and students); Grinnell College, USA, Ambedkar University Delhi Faculty Association, Democratic Teachers Network, Hyderabad, and over a hundred students from Department of English, Delhi University.
A demonstration was held outside the Indian High Commission in London on 24 February, where students, academics and activists gathered in solidarity with JNU and demanded release of the three arrested students, withdrawal of sedition cases and revoking of suspension of the JNU students.
Within the country, CPI(ML) and AISA organized a rally in Patna demanding release of JNUSU president and withdrawal of sedition charges against other students, of whom five are ex JNUSU office bearers. The next day a joint rally comprising of several student organizations was also taken out in Patna against the BJP-RSS-ABVP designs to malign and defame JNU. Protests were also organized in many towns including Darbhanga, Fatuha and Arwal and effigy of Prime Minister Modi was burnt.
In Kolkata, several demonstrations were organized by AISA and various cultural activists to protest against the attack on JNU. In some of these demonstrations ABVP resorted to its routine hooliganism but the protestors remained undeterred.
Students and teachers in Allahabad, Lucknow, Patna, campuses in Kerala, Chennai as well as citizens in Bangalore, held solidarity protests for JNU.
Similar protests by left parties, students’ organizations and progressive sections have also been organized in Chandigarh, Bhubaneswar, Mumbai, Varanasi, Udaipur, and several other places.
AISA activists in Udaipur including Saurabh Naruka and .... were attacked by ABVP and badly beaten up for circulating leaflets and collecting signatures in support of JNU. In Jadavpur University, the ABVP and RSS tried to storm into the campus but were resisted successfully by teachers and students. ABVP attacked people in MS University Baroda during a JNU solidarity meeting. In Delhi University, the ABVP failed miserably to disrupt two separate JNU solidarity events. But they indulged in vandalism and violence to intimidate a teacher who had shared a pro-JNU article written by another teacher on Facebook!
Support has also poured in from students across universities in India such as AMU, TISS, FTII, DU, AU and several others.
379 Indian scientists and academics have written a letter to the Vice Chancellor of JNU expressing their dismay at the recent events there. They write, “One may agree or disagree with this viewpoint — and, indeed, signatories to this letter hold different positions — but we are unanimous that students should have the right to freely discuss this issue... India is a vast country, and no one group can define what it means to be “nationalist” or “anti-national”, in specific terms of positions to hold and causes to support. The country’s fabric is strong enough to accommodate a plurality of views. It is the attempt to suppress differing viewpoints that is genuinely damaging for the country’s 'democratic ethos”. They also castigated the university administration for allowing the witch-hunt of students. “Senior members of the government have aggressively targeted your students. The JNU administration should have protected its students against these attacks and charges that have also vitiated the police investigation. We are deeply disappointed that you have failed to carry out this responsibility”.
Students, teachers and practitioners of Law issued a statement of solidarity condemning the attacks on JNUSU President, JNU faculty as well as journalists by BJP-backed lawyers inside Patiala Court. A procession was also held by lawyers demanding debarment and arrest of the lawyers who indulged in assault.
Students and faculty at American University of Beirut issued a statement of solidarity, as did several academics, students, writers, artists and activists from Australia. Protest and solidarity statements have poured in from several other universities across the world.
On 18 February, a massive solidarity march took place in Delhi in which tens of thousands of students (across campuses), faculty members, youth, progressive sections, cultural activists and common people participated. In a peaceful protest in which students carried roses, colourful banners and placards, they urged the media to stop deliberately airing fabricated news based on unverified facts, fake tweets and doctored videos which was inciting violence against JNU students and faculty. Exposing the agenda of the BJP government, the students raised the slogans of “JNU to bahaana hai, Rohith ka mudda dabaana hai” (JNU is only a pretext to bury the issue of Rohith Vemula’s institutional murder). The students affirmed that they will not let the government divert the attention from Rohith’s institutional murder and continue to demand justice for him. The students also demanded that JNUSU president be released, charges against JNU students be withdrawn, suspension of eight JNU students be revoked, and BJP MLA O.P. Sharma and lawyers be arrested for violence against JNU community and sympathisers. They urged that the vicious attempts by RSS-BJP-ABVP to malign and criminalise the JNU community must be strongly resisted.