“It is your own doing!” The letter said. In his heart of hearts, he knew it was true, Muhiuddin Aurangzeb, now going by the sobriquet Alamgir was right. “It was I who commenced it and now it has consumed me, as well as my Dara”, Khurram thought out loud.
Time is a great leveller. Prince Khurram began his reign by defying primogeniture and imprisoning his step mother and killing all his brothers. Now, he stood imprisoned in his own palace by his third born, Aurangzeb, who had defeated his favourite son and the heir to his throne.
“Maybe, what the Hindus believe is true. You reap what you sow, Karma eventually wins”, he declared to Jahanara, the daughter who cared for him. “You must protest! You must defy! You must object! Father, this is unjust. You are the true emperor of Hindustan. The peacock throne belongs to you”, she shot back. Khurram did not respond, looking out from his balcony at the memory of the one true love of his life, Mumtaz Mahal. “Hypocrisy”, he murmured; “It is improper of me to demand justice, when I have done nothing to deserve it” the former emperor of Hindustan mused, while continuing to stare at the opulent marble white mausoleum of his deceased wife.
360 years later, on the streets of the city, Emperor Shah Jahan founded, hypocrisy runs amok, with naked audacity and belligerence.
Aap Chronology Samajhiye
The Jawaharlal Nehru University was the brainchild of M C Chagla, a distinguished jurist and an earnest Education Minister. He dedicated it as an ode to his beloved leader, and wanted its ideals to mimic the virtues of the first prime minister of India. National integration, scientific socialism, humanism, tolerance, modernity, academic excellence, scientific temper, democracy, patriotism and inclusion were supposed to be the bedrocks of the institution.
Built on a theme of red & white in 1969, the university turned more red and less white in the ‘70s, transforming into the bastion of the Left. It was odd that a university in the capital would evolve into a Marxist fortress, even while the ideology remained politically relevant only in the states of Kerala & West Bengal. This was partly serendipitous and partly orchestrated.
Student politics formed a glorious part of India’s independence movement but post-1947, the Congress leaders saw no reason to foster or encourage it. They were the establishment now and much like the British, they did not want to be challenged. Pandit Nehru went as far as appealing to students all over India to eschew politics and help in ‘Bharat Nirman’. The Congress dissolved its student factions but the Communist Parties of India did not. They regarded universities as a path to socio-political prominence.
JNU’s early students were primarily linguists who were interested in Russian and radical social scientists that were experimenting and oscillating between different strands of socialism. The Left had found their gold mine. Here were willing apprentices who were curious about or mesmerised by Marx, prepared to transform into comrades. Providentially, the Left also found their golden boy, Prakash Karat. Equipped with iconoclastic charm, British sophistication, firebrand oratory and zealous organizational skill, Karat spearheaded the Student’s Federation Of India (SFI) and forged into JNU’s soul. The Left through the SFI, the AISF, the social science faculty and Karat seized JNU. If there was any doubt about JNU’s predilections, they were extinguished during the three year reign of the charismatic Sitaram Yechury as JNU Students Union president. It was too late for the NSUI (formed hastily in 1971) and the ABVP (non-existent in JNU even back then). Their lack of initiative and aptitude lost them JNU forever, as the Left’s sway was ruthless.
18 kilometers away and 360 years ago, in the Qila E Mubarak, also built with a theme of red and white; Dara Shukoh, the eldest son of Shah Jahan lies on his bed exhausted ruing his tardiness. If only, his principle army had not been late in reinforcing him at the battle of Samugarh, he would have defeated Aurangzeb. “It wasn’t ability or proficiency, it was dumb luck” he screamed staring up at his Allah/Prabhu. If only he’d perceived his younger brother’s machinations a day early, he would be the one celebrating victory. “Maybe, it is destiny, maybe, it is written” he whispered with resignation as the mythical prince of destiny sank back ruminating his fate.
A Culture of Violence
The Left has a history of bloodshed. Whether it was the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, Vietnam or Cambodia; violence has always been the one constant. The Indian Left was no different; on the tramways of Calcutta, in the rural hinterland of Naxalbari and on the streets of Cochin, widespread carnage took place against the establishment. After the Emergency, where students of the Left distinguished themselves as revolutionaries against Mrs Gandhi, it was time they took over the mantle; after all, JNU was now the Left and the Left was now JNU.
The Left has always painted the State as nefarious, autocratic, evil, monopolistic, brutal, casteist, xenophobic, racist, corrupt, immoral, sexist, communal, elitist and misanthropic. JNU did the same, just with better intellect and optics. But they also disguised their penchant for coercion, violence & intolerance by disguising it as struggles against the establishment and masking it with words like social justice, pro-minority, pro-farmers, democratic, anti-totalitarian, secular and populist.
In its illustrious history, JNU students have abused and intimidated ideological rivals, gheraoed the vice-chancellor at his office or home multiple times, beaten up teachers, stoned houses of the faculty, protested and boycotted Prime Ministers, fought the police on the streets, wrecked property, taken part in internal skirmishes and gone on strikes numerous times. The university has been shut down due to hooliganism and vandalism multiple times in all the decades since its inception. (Source: JNU: The Making of a University by Rakesh Batabayal)
The lifestyle of violence has always been a given. But since the 90s, there’s been an alarming and gradual shift from an anti establishment stance to an anti India one. JNU has gone from supporting China during Tiananmen and the USSR during Solidarity to supporting azadi in Kashmir, celebrating Naxalite violence, beating up army personnel, lauding terrorists on death penalties and shouting infamous and catchy anti-India slogans in their rallies.
After staring at the Taj Mahal in silence for a few minutes, Shah Jahan turned towards a patient Jahanara peering at him with expectation. “I have blood on my hands beloved daughter. Let us not ignore it, because history won’t. I poisoned, beheaded, trampled, strangulated and stabbed everyone who I believed were contenders to the throne. After wearing the crown, I eliminated family members, friends, allies and brothers, I perceived to be my rivals. With so much gore and violence, on my conscience, how can I stand on moral high ground and talk of justice? How can I speak of morality and mercy? How can I expect to be treated any differently?” Knowing his daughter would not be convinced by lengthy monologues, he moved towards her and held her face in his palms. “To ask for justice and compassion now would be sanctimonious. It would be hypocritical, my child. I am not that man. I am not going to request an audience with Aurangzeb and I am not going to beg for Dara’s life or mine. When the fall is all that’s left, it matters a great deal, how a man falls down.” With tears in her eyes and pathos in her heart, Jahanara hugged her father and wept, recognizing that Allah had sealed all three of their fates.
Providence & Fate
Except, the students of JNU in 2020, do not have the gravitas or the self-enlightenment that the fifth Mughal Emperor possessed. Their insincerity and deceit loom large over the dastardly act of violence.
Let’s be clear here, this writer sympathises with them and does not condone actions taken by masked cowards. The goons need to be put behind bars, whether ABVP activists or not. Nonetheless, it is the victim card that JNU plays that reeks of hypocrisy.
5 decades of relentless, regular and repeated aggression makes the moral high ground they stand on, untenable. I can’t help but also feel a sense of vindication when I see them demand justice and declare innocence. Violence begets violence and it was only a matter of time before a lunatic fringe decided enough was enough and answered in kind. This decade, dominated by a resurgent Right has a recurring theme: intolerance of intolerance. The Right does not believe in watching meekly while it is coerced, manipulated, assaulted, condescended and violated. It will fight back and unfortunately, when you’ve been the instigator for so long, you don’t get to choose or dictate, the method of the counter punch. It’s Karma in its most academic sense.
Two wrongs don’t make a right. At the end of the day, they are all citizens of India and deserve due process. They did not deserve being abused this way. This is what distinguishes us from them. All of them great arguments. Except, where are your tears for the countless students JNU has assaulted over the decades? Where is you candle light vigil for the faculty whose houses were stoned? Where is your peaceful protest for the police officers who’ve borne the brunt of fury? Where are your chants and slogans for all the politicians and officers who’ve been gheraoed for days? Where are the celebrities when the aam aadmi’s property is vandalised? Where is the justice for those affected by the rampage of the JNU juggernaut over the last 50 years?
360 years later, on the streets of Shahjahanabad, hypocrisy runs amok with naked audacity and belligerence.
This article was written by Sujay Iyer. He is a Senior Resident, Nephrology at Fortis Hospital, Noida.