Not allowed to enter office, JNU professor forced to touch students' feet. High time universities taught politics the right way

JNU professor who opposed Kanhaiya Kumar prevented from entering his class, forced to touch the feet of the students. It's time we stopped making education the battleground for politics,

On Monday, English professor at JNU Makarand Paranjape was stopped from entering his class by a group of protesters. Paranjape has had his fair share of differences with the liberal groups on campus and JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar.

Paranjape wrote on Twitter:

“Blocked from entering the School of Languages, I was the only one who succeeded in getting inside in the end. #JNU I tried to reason with so many but they refused to enter into a dialogue, resorting to name-calling and slogan-shouting instead. I asked one, “What is your name?” He said, “We are Najib.”

He added: “I am Najib too, but I want to go to my office; you can’t stop me. Security was so ineffective; it was their responsibility to ensure that those who wanted to go inside the building should be allowed.” He further wrote: “#JNU Even the security backed off. I said, “Why aren’t you doing your duty? You can see that they have blocked the entrance.” Clear the way. In the end, I myself offered satyagraha. I sat down, held the feet of the two students to push them away from the door.”

Paranjape posted a video of his struggle to get into his office on his Twitter account where he is asking the protesters to let him go into his office. The protesters refused point blank and said that they are blocking him on grounds of “social justice ideology”. Watch the video below:

The protesters were protesting against the criteria related to admission in PhD and MPhil courses and demanded punishment for the ABVP students who assaulted Najib on October 15, who is still missing.

Politics has always been an integral part of Indian college campuses in India. With the student-wings of the major political parties operating in various universities, India’s college campuses are often buzzing with political activities but it’s high time the universities and student unions drew a line.

Student politics in the last few years has taken a turn for the worse. From violence, to lynch mobs, violent strikes and protest movements, universities like JNU, Film and Television Institute of India, Hyderabad University,etc have seen it all.

The recent upsurge in the incidents of violence on college campuses raises some disturbing questions. First, given that student politics often takes a turn for the worse, should the authorities of the universities intervene if the line is crossed? More importantly, who decides what the line is and when it should be drawn?

In the above incident, Paranjape gives an account of how the security on JNU campus backed off when he wasn’t allowed to enter his classroom. The moment the situation gets out of hand, the university authorities often refuse to intervene for the safety of their students and teachers.

The matters got worse when Paranjape was forced to touch the feet of the students who were blocking his way. For one, why is a teacher being stopped from entering his office because of his political inclinations? It seems as if the students have forgotten that sole purpose of a university is to provide higher education, not a battleground to play politics.

Paranjape told the protesters: “If I disagree with you, you have to let me discharge my duties, to teach, read, and write; that is JNU culture too, not bullying”  Paranjape echoed the sentiment that he is a teacher first and it’s responsibility to teach the students. His political inclinations, weather he’s a pro-liberal or a right wing activist, shouldn’t be a criteria to decide weather he gets to teach his students or not.

That’s precisely the argument put forth by the ones who are against student politics. While politics dominates the scene, academics often take a back seat. It’s high time universities started regulating the political activities on their campuses and intervene each time there is an instance of violence or protest movement for the safety of teachers and students.

One cannot ban student politics because it is through campus politics that we find the future leaders. Several established political leaders, the likes of Arun Jaitley have been active members of DUSU and various other student’s unions. But it’s important for universities and students unions alike to make academics and the safety of the students and teachers their priority over campus politics.