A proposed study on ‘Islamic terrorism’ has sparked a new controversy in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) with many faculty members and teachers calling it an attempt to fuel Islamophobia. The university’s Academic Council on Friday passed a proposal to set up a Centre for National Security Studies, under which there would be a possibly be a course, themed on “Islamic terrorism”. Despite strong criticism from a few council members, who pointed out that the proposal was communal in nature as terrorism shouldn’t be linked to any religion.
According to a PTI report, a draft of the proposal was prepared by a four-member committee headed by Ajay Kumar Dubey, a professor of the Centre for African Studies. Initially, only M.Phil and PhD students will be accepted and focus would be majorly on research. The proposed MA programme will probably commence after five years.
Apart from Islamic terrorism, the Centre for National Security Studies will also have courses on the military modernisation of China and Pakistan, defence economics, nuclear proliferation and data arms control and disarmament, civil-military relations, naxalism and other aspects.
InUth spoke to Dr Sudhir K. Suthar, an office-bearer of the JNU Teachers Association (JNUTA) who was part of the council meeting. “A few members objected to the usage of the word ‘Islamic terrorism’ and suggested it should be changed to terrorism. JNUTA, which represents the entire teaching fraternity of the university, has registered its objections with the Committee,” he said.
“We don’t know if the objections will be taken into consideration as the Academic Council ultimately has no say over the matter,” he added.
Professor Sonajharia Minz, JNUTA president said the Committee asked all the concerned schools and centres to give their responses on a very short notice. “There are many schools in the university which have been studying these subjects for years. The Vice Chancellor did not ask the Chair to take inputs from the concerned stakeholders and get back to the Academic Council,” she told InUth.
“It is difficult to say whether the inputs (including the removal of ‘Islamic terrorism’) will be addressed as it is now entirely the discretion of the Committee,” she added.
Geeta Kumari, Jawaharlal Nehru University Student’s Union (JNUSU) president felt that it will only promote communal agendas. “How can you refer terrorism as ‘Islamic terrorism’? This move would further polarise the society which is already divided on religious lines. They want to project one community as being responsible for all acts of terrorism,” she told InUth, adding that it is a part of RSS-BJP’s political agenda.
When InUth spoke to Prof Dubey, who headed the four-member committee, he declined to comment.