By Aasif Wani
Kashmir University Teachers Association’s (KUTA’s) recent seminar cum one sided talk show on Art 35-A organized in the convocation complex of Kashmir University(KU) witnessed poor participation from the teachers community of the varsity. In the event ,many dignitaries comprising of lawyers, academicians, and civil society members were invited as panelists, however, the saddest part was, these experts delivered worthy lectures about the importance of 35-A to empty chairs and they were highly disappointed about it.
Teachers keeping themselves aloof and organizers keeping students aloof, made this a flop show , and it is ghastly on part of the Kashmir’s highest learning institute. Instead of mobilizing a public opinion in this regard, KU teachers sent the shock waves out, by neglecting the issue of grave importance. Teachers as an intellectual class have a greater and imperative role to play in the society; delivering lectures in the classrooms does not take them off the hook. Being the intellectual class, they have a duty to make aware and educate the masses. They have a right to protest, and if they fear to ask for their rights, if they fear to resist the anti people policies, if they fear to support movements like this, if they fear to show dissent, then imagine the quality of students they produce and ultimately eventually plight of our society.
Obliviousness towards own society is dangerous and cynics are felicitating the very criminal move of the government and thereby are equally responsible for causing harm to society which succored them and made them what they are now. How can one ignore his people and think about personal matters only? In variation to above, intellectual classes of other states are different; they do not mind leaving their comfy cabins and remain on hunger strike, and when it comes to their society, they do not abandon their people in great need. Those who were beaten to the pulp in Ramjas College, while protesting with students, those who walked shoulder to shoulder with students during JNU Azaadi uprising and those who often stand at Jantar Mantar with students in the scorching summer, are teachers as well. Their status was not reduced, they never felt ashamed for walking with students though they faced rough antagonism of government but it never deterred them; keeping egos and fear aside they walked for change, they walked for dissent. Indeed they are conscientious and responsible people.
Apart from the less participation of teachers, deprivation of students to participate to the seminar equally contributed to make it a flop show. Despite having about 2500 seating capacity, what prevented them to invite students, is a question that must be answered? Are not students decent and capable of sitting before the dignitaries and participate in the seminar or raising questions and is showing dissent indecency? How can we expect anything good from so-called intellectuals who do not give damn to the society by avoiding seminars of such importance? On the governor’s visit to varsity before some days, students were sent to picnic, and this clearly depicts that university officials take students as goons and hooligans. It is sheer disrespectful and bothersome attitude of varsity towards students. Let’s not ignore the fact that, despite regular protests and voices of the dissent reverberating through the campus, we have hardly any incidents of violence like NIT, JNU, Ramjas and other institutions of India. On governor’s , students who were present in the varsity civilly stood in a lawn, away from the chancellor’s cavalcade with placards in their hands. Is not it a right way of protesting? Why are we viewed as hooligans then? Where preachers ignore the democratic way of mobilizing opinion, where students are kept away from such events, how students are expected to be sensible and disciplined unless they already are? At least, law students should have been invited, after all their teachers were panelists and the topic was academically relevant as well.
Abrogation of Art 35-A, will not affect one particular group of Kashmiri’s only; rather it will smash the whole Jammu and Kashmir with equal intensity. Non-residents will flood to the valley and acquire permanent citizenship of J&K, employment spaces in government departments will be available to people of India as well, and it will be the case with educational institutes of the valley, when it comes to admissions. Removal of Art 35-A is an attempt to change the demography of our state and it is our duty to protect it, no matter what it takes.
—The author is a student activist and studies in the Kashmir University School of law. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org