(Imphal Times produce the statement in toto without editing)
On hearing that the Chief Minister of Manipur, N. Biren Singh would be speaking at a public forum, ‘Ishan Uday: Bridging the Heart’ organized by the ABVP JNU Unit on August 28th, 2018 at the Koyna Hostel Mess, the Manipur students’ community in JNU had gone to raise what we felt were pertinent concerns and issues.
On our arrival at the hostel gate, we stood silently with placards while the host ABVP members welcomed their guests, including the Chief Ministers of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, with slogans such as ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’.
We had prepared a written statement explaining why we had decided to hold a silent protest. But, we were not allowed to distribute the written statement.
In a brazen act of violation of student rights never witnessed before in JNU, students from India’s northeast were not allowed to enter the mess hall (the venue of the meeting) by the ABVP members. To our utter shock and dismay the ABVP members were in fact aided by university’s security guards in this shameful act.
With the JNU Student’s Union elections imminent, for the past couple of weeks the university has witnessed the presence of several members from outside the university. They have been campaigning for ABVP. Several of them were seen in the audience. The institutional support which has been shown to ABVP for the upcoming student union elections is something which JNU has not witnessed before. The same is true for three Chief Ministers campaigning for a student’s group affiliated to a political party in the garb of an academic function.
We were called ‘naxalites’ and ‘anti-nationals’ and we were labeled as a ‘security threat’. Several students were manhandled.
We demanded an apology from the ABVP for this shameful act and for the derogatory terms hurled at students from India’s northeast.
ABVP representatives did not relent. It was consequently decided that the students from India’s northeast would boycott the talk and wait for the Chief Ministers to come out. Representatives of ABVP coaxes us into joining the talk on their terms while refusing to apologise for the abuses they had hurled at the students. The abuses continued after the CMs had left. In a tweet, Rajat Sethi, advisor to N. Biren Singh and a Hindu zealot, said:
Three sitting Chief Ministers from Northeast are not allowed to speak their mind at JNU tonight. Leftist goons exposed their true Taliban colors. These terrorists living safely in refugee inside JNU campus should be identified and arrested! Don’t tolerate them, arrest them!
His assertion that the three chief ministers were not allowed to speak is a blatant lie. We denounce, deplore and condemn BJP leader Mr. Sethi’s attempt to delegitimize voices of our students by using slurs and epithets. We are left to wonder if this is the expertise and attitude that the Chief Minister of Manipur brings to his personal office and the state government by deploying Mr Sethi as his advisor?
We demand answers from the Chief Minister
In light of the above events where we were not only denied our rights as student-citizens to peacefully engage with the Chief Minister, but were in fact abused for attempting to do so, we ask the following questions of our elected representative and chief executive of the government of Manipur:
• Why did the Chief Minister agree to be in attendance at a ‘glorified election’ event held by the ABVP in JNU?
• Why did the same Chief Minister not show as much initiative and pro-activeness when the entire Manipur University was shut down for more than 80 days?
• Was the Chief Minister forced by his political masters to ignore his duties as the chief executive of the state in order to play a partisan role instead in a party function under the garb of a conference?
• Were the symptoms of mindless sycophancy he displayed in dragging his feet on the Manipur University issue and by the shielding of AP Pandey also at display when he attended a party function in the garb of an academic function on the command of his political masters?
The hypocritical Marei-Longba attitude of the Chief Minister who brutally suppresses the democratic students’ movement in Manipur University while attending a students’ event in Delhi titled ‘Bridging the Heart’ has left us dismayed and disillusioned.