An Open Letter to Amita Singh

An Open Letter to Amita Singh

After a JNU faculty member made some controversial statements against Kashmiris, and some other sections, in the university, a few Kashmiri students respond:

“Jab kendra main sarkar kamzor ya undecided hogayi to aap ko pata hai ki akhridinoon main Manmohan Singh ji kuch nai kar rahethei. State agencies koi kaam nai kar rahithei…Usi period main ye sab gusein hain, jo Kashmiri militants hain aur ye saarehain. Ye usi period main in tatvoon ka yahan par entry hogaya hai. Varna JNU ki history main kabi be is qisim ki naare-baazi nahin hui.… Anti-national matlab aisi naare-baazi jo desh ki akhandta kei upar prashan chin uthayey.” (Quote from your interview to Patrika, Uttar Pradesh)

The above quote is to remind you about the prejudiced, baseless, and ill-founded allegations against Kashmiri students. In your clarification (through media), you claimed that “the interview was an informal one” and that you were not aware of it being put on a website. The fact of the matter is not whether it was an “informal” conversation, rather it is about the views you hold. The more important question is regarding the ignominious views which you seem to uphold (regarding Kashmiri Muslims, Muslims in general, and Dalits).
For some time now while the attacks from outside have continued unabated (be it RSS mouthpiece Panchjanya´s label for JNU as a “anti-national block,” Subramanian Swami´s suggestion to establish a “Anti-Narcotics Bureau Campus Branch to raid dorms and arrest Naxals and Jehadis” or the recent Rajasthan episode where four Kashmiri students were arrested for allegedly cooking beef — read mutton– on campus), what is more worrisome is the attacks by some from within the university especially on Kashmiri, Muslim and Dalit students.
By questioning our ability to secure admissions on the basis of merit through due processes of the University, you have insinuated that we have ‘militant links’ that have been exploited to secure admissions. You blatantly make the “failure of UPA government and state agencies” as the cause of our “infiltration” into JNU, as if entrance examinations, viva voce and interviews were beyond us to crack. You further accuse us of being the beneficiaries of monetary assistance provided by certain “agencies” who also sponsor our “whiskey parties at Parthasarthy”. Continuing with your communal branding you abruptly dismiss the seriousness of academic work that we do and accuse us of not being able to defend our work academically and rather by bullying. You have also enunciated that you are scared of visiting places like Jamia because Kashmiri students are most in number there.
Dear ma’am, we would like to inform you that while we are argumentative and politically sensitive, we are also the most hospitable people you will ever meet. It would be no exaggeration to say that Kashmir is most known for its hospitality. Even if you do not want, we would force-feed you kehwa and wazwan if you ever visit our houses in Delhi/Kashmir or Jamia. We insist you to actually visit these places and then confirm if your reductionist logic of such branding of innocent students and Kashmiri people in general is justified. While we agree that you are entitled to hold a certain political and ideological position on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, what we don´t appreciate is the furthering of stereotypical construction of the entire Kashmiri student community on the basis of your parochial political ideology.
Your spate of irresponsible conjectures doesn’t end with just Kashmiris and you bring in Bijnor (which you mistakenly think is the home town of Umar Khalid) by branding it as “terrorists ka gadd”. Have you forgotten how Muslim youth have been unjustly targeted and incarcerated for decades on the mere basis of suspicion? To give you a recent example, Amir, a Muslim from Batla House, Delhi was imprisoned for fourteen years and let out when nothing was proven against him. This is a mere speck of how Muslim youth are reduced to their immediate identities through incessant media and public trials.
Along with this, you also attempt to demean the struggle for social justice of marginalised communities by reducing it to mere “grudges”. This undermining of the struggle against humiliation of marginalised students and their rightful demand for a life of dignity is highly condemnable and amounts to being criminally oblivious of the oppression that they have to face from both the state and society.
We hope you understand that as an academic institution JNU needs to talk about the uncomfortable questions and extend solidarity to those who have been left out from what we commonly call the “mainstream.” We need to also work towards creating a viable and favourable academic culture where even questions that seem provocative should be discussed and made part of our conversations, debates and dialogues. We hope that you realise the fact that propagating such views has dangerous repercussions. You should be held accountable for creating a hostile environment for Kashmiris, Muslims and Dalits, who are at the receiving end of this onslaught.

From: Concerned Students of Kashmir
(Altaf, Arshi, Fayaz, Gulzar, Khalid, Komal, Mudasir, Mudasir, Mutahar, Muzaffar, Raees, Sana, Shazia, Urfan, Zeeshan, Zoya)

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