New Delhi: Two days after Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Vice-Chancellor Jagadesh Kumar sought help from the government to install a tank on campus to instill patriotism in students, student leader Umar Khalid has suggested that a statue of Rohit Vemula should be put up instead.
‘Suggestion to students: Lets install a #RohithVemula statue in JNU. That's enough to scare the s*it out of all war-mongers & tank lovers! [sic]’ Khalid tweeted early Tuesday morning. In furtherance with his tweet, he also spoke to News18 and said that Vemula’s name was enough to shake up the regime. “He is the symbol of our fight for campus democracy, social justice and being reduced to just a number. The movement we’ve had on campus, Rohith has been its symbol,” Khalid said.
Some thinkers and leaders from the Hindu Right, however, said that Khalid’s comments held no ground. “Why are we considering the comment of someone who has been accused of anti-national activities? One who supports and looks to profess terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, Khalid is nobody to make such a suggestion. Also, there are many people who deserve a place on campus like Ashfaqulla Khan, APJ Abdul Kalam and many more,” said Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad’s (ABVP) Saurabh Sharma.
Within JNU, despite the chaos of admission and hurry of submitting MPhil theses, Khalid’s tweet has created a deep division.
Shehla Rashid said she’s in favour of installing not just a battle tank but a museum dedicated to wars fought across the world and the destruction they’ve caused.
‘I'm in favour of battle tank on campus…Vietnam War and images from Hiroshima, Nagasaki of destruction due to atom bombs, the archive of postwar survivor testimonies, permanent video installations of Howard Zinn, George Carlin, Gurmehar Kaur, Hannah Arendt, sniper trauma testimonies…I'm perfectly in favour of a war museum on campus. We need to have discussions on war,” said the young student leader.
President of the JNU students union Mohit Pandey was all for Vemula’s statue on campus. “His statue will be a constant reminder of social justice on campus. We have people from underprivileged background. Rohith was one of them too and he excelled with his hard work. This inspires other students too and is a reminder of the fight against the exploitative forces active on our campus,” he told News18.