The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) administration has issued a strong advisory to a group of students, known as ‘THE COLLECTIVE,’ against conducting a discussion on the recent violence in Manipur on campus. Despite the administration’s warning, the organizers have stated that the event will proceed as planned.
According to the university, it came to their attention that ‘THE COLLECTIVE’ had released a pamphlet announcing a discussion on the happenings in Manipur, scheduled to take place at Ganga Dhaba on May 18, 2023, at 9:30 pm. The administration highlighted that no prior permission had been sought for this event.
The university’s concern is that such an activity may disrupt the peace and harmony on campus. Therefore, the administration firmly advised the students involved to cancel the proposed program immediately.
The pamphlet issued by ‘THE COLLECTIVE’ stated that the purpose of the discussion was to gain a deeper understanding of the situation in Manipur. It invited students to participate in a conversation on the socio-cultural context of the ongoing crisis and the role of the state. Prominent individuals, including Dr. Thongkholal Haokip from the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance at JNU, Dr. Praem Hidam from the School of Law, Governance, and Citizenship at BR Ambedkar University, and Nandita Haksar, a senior human rights lawyer and author, were listed as participants.
In response to the administration’s advisory, Sourya Majumdar, the joint secretary of ‘THE COLLECTIVE,’ argued that there is no rule prohibiting discussions without prior permission. He maintained that they would proceed with their plan, questioning why this rule is being imposed now. According to Majumdar, holding a discussion cannot disturb the peace of the university.
The clash between the JNU administration and ‘THE COLLECTIVE’ raises questions about the freedom of expression and the role of student activism on campuses. While the administration is concerned about maintaining peace, some students argue that discussions and debates should be encouraged as they contribute to a healthy intellectual environment.
It remains to be seen how the situation will unfold and whether ‘THE COLLECTIVE’ will proceed with their planned discussion despite the administration’s advisory. The incident also highlights the ongoing challenges universities face in balancing academic freedom and maintaining a peaceful campus environment.