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When Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerjee was Jailed in Tihar for 'Gheraoing' JNU Vice Chancellor

When Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerjee was Jailed in Tihar for 'Gheraoing' JNU Vice Chancellor

Banerjee says that while they had 'gheraoed' the VC, police sent by the then Congress government, stormed into the VC's house and arrested him along with hundreds of others.

New Delhi: Abhijit Banerjee, one of the recipients of this year's Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, has spent time in Delhi's Tihar jail for 'gheraoing' the then vice-chancellor of the university.

Banerjee, who along with Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer won this prestigious award for the contribution made towards fighting global poverty, wrote in a piece published over three years ago about how he was 'beaten' by police.

Banerjee finished his education in 1983, just a year before the current finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman finished hers. While Banerjee did his MA in Economics from the central university, Sitharaman completed her M. Phil in International Studies in 1984.

'It was the summer of ’83 and we, the students of JNU, had gheraoed the vice-chancellor in his house for the umpteenth time. The pretext was the expulsion of the president of the student union, the Kanhaiya Kumar of the day, for reasons that escape me now,' Banerjee wrote in a piece written for Hindustan Times in February 2016, when JNU sedition row was at its peak.

He says that while they had still 'gheraoed' the VC, police sent by the then Congress government, stormed into the VC's house and arrested him along with hundreds of others. He was taken to Tihar Jail where he spent some 10 days and was beaten up.

'[I was] and thrown into Tihar jail, charged not quite with sedition, but attempt to murder and the rest. The charges were eventually dropped — thank god — but not before we spent ten days or so in Tihar.' he writes.

He goes on to say that most of the faculty, which he claims were politically leftist, supported these moves because —according to them— the students' body was considered to be “lumpenised” as students from rural areas joining the university because of the extra credits that were given to them during admission process.

Banerjee finished his piece by asking the governments to stay out of the shared spaces in universities. "Students often say things that they will one day change their minds about, but also things that change our minds when we think about them. We need the space. Please stay out."

The nobel recipient has been a strong critic of Modi government's financial policies. In an interview to CNBC-TV18’s Latha Venkatesh, Banerjee said that the “Indian economy is on a shaky ground” and “the government should do pilots of policy initiatives more carefully”.

first published:October 14, 2019, 20:37 IST