Anti-national or defenders of freedom of expression? Twitter divided over burning of Modi's effigy in JNU

The students claimed that they were protesting against the Centre's "failure" in honouring its promises

While Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, 26/11 mastermind Hafeez Saeed and heads of several other terror organisations were the faces of Ravana effigies burnt on Dussehra across the country, a section of students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University chose the visages of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah to represent Ravana and burnt his effigy.

The students, also members of the Congress-affiliated National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) while burning the effigy claimed that it was a protest against the Centre’s “failure” in honouring its promises and the continuous attacks on various educational institutions across the country.

The incident evoked strong reactions from people who termed the JNU students anti nationals and goons. The NSUI students however, maintained that theeir protest was to symbolise their dissatisfaction with the Central government. “The idea is to root out the evil from governance and bring about a system that is pro-student and pro-people,” JNU student Sunny Dhiman, who led the protest, said.

While some questioned how a PM’s effigy can be set ablaze, others rationally accepted that a PM can be the centre of criticism. Questions were also raised about the constitutional right of ‘freedom of expression’ as the JNU administration has ordered an investigation against the students involved in the act.



Some even gave a word of advice to the Bharatiya Janata Party which has been demanding a clarification from Congress president Sonia Gandhi. The National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), the student wing of the Congress party, has claimed that it was a protest against the Centre’s “failure” to honour its promises and the “continuous attacks” on various educational institutions across the country.


Effigy burning is not something that people are indulging in for the first time. Workers and volunteers from across party lines have setting visages of politicians on fire over various issues. Thus, BJP got a dose of advice reminded them of their past deeds too.


Distancing itself from the act, NSUI issued a statement saying it does not encourage the practice of effigy burning. However, it stated that there was a larger issue involved in the act comitted on Dussehra and claimed that there was a “systematic attack by the government on the education institutions across India. The act may backfire on them considering the university administration’s decision last week to order a proctorial inquiry into the effigy burning of the Gujarat government and ‘gau-rakshak’ (cow vigilantes) and to issue show-cause notices to the students concerned.


The university officials maintained that no permission was sought for the event, the organisers claimed that effigy burning was a “routine” thing on campus and did not require permission from the administration.

Besides Modi and Shah, the effigy had faces of Yoga guru Ramdev, Sadhvi Pragya, Nathuram Godse, Asaram Bapu and the Vice-Chancellor. The students also carried placards with the slogan, ‘Truth shall prevail over evil’.