Jamia Millia Islamia University, JNU get govt note to hold anti-terrorism day event; only Jamia holds event
The Jamia unit of All India Students Association (AISA) said that the event was a manifestation of Islamophobia on part of Ministry of Home Affairs and the Jamia administration
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) sent out a notice to Central government educational institutions and offices to hold an anti-terrorism pledge event on May 21, and all the officers and ministers were asked to participate. In a first, several students of Central universities were asked to take the pledge online, but only Jamia Millia Islamia University held an online meet-up to do so.
The MHA sent out a note to the Ministry of Education to issue instructions to all subordinate, attached and autonomous bodies under their administrative control to observe the anti-terrorism day. The Jawaharlal Nehru University and JMI faculty had sent a letter to the students regarding the same. Kendriya Vidyalaya schools also got the letter. But, Ambedkar University Delhi and Delhi University students did not get such a letter.
In the letter dated May 13, the MHA stated that the objective behind observing May 21 as the anti-terrorism day was to wean away youth from terrorism and the cult of violence by highlighting the sufferings of the common man and showing as to how it is prejudicial to national interest.
The Ministry, while conceding that the pandemic was still ongoing, asked the departments to organize appropriate programmes for the occasion while maintaining social distancing and wearing masks. They requested organisers of such events in PSUs and all government offices to take the pledge in their offices or homes. The officials were asked to think of “innovative ways of propagating the message of anti-terrorism through digital and social media platforms”.
An email was sent on May 20 to the JNU faculty and students that there would be an anti-terrorism pledge taking ceremony on May 21 at 2.30 pm. The email included details about the pledge, but no online or offline pledge ceremony event was scheduled.
“This is the first year we got such an email. I have completed my post graduation and M.Phil in the same university. Thankfully, no online event was organised or at least we did not know about it,” said a JNU student who did not want to be identified.
At JMI, the faculty sent the note to all students, but it was a professor in the English department who organised an online pledge event for all students. “The first year graduation students were told by the faculty that they have to get another five students for the online ceremony. Once several students who had logged in from various departments, especially law, asked why the event was being organised when no other university had done so, the professor changed tack. She said that the event was only for English department students and requested all other students to log out. Eventually only 10 students remained online,” said a senior student in the English Literature department.
“This was the first time that no department wanted to take onus of who had organised the online pledge. This is the first time such as event was organised at the University. We got the information from the first year representative through the English Literary Association about the event. Only the English department professor sent the message, but students from every semester were asked to join. We don’t know why only our faculty organised the online meet. The JNU faculty did not,” said another student in the same department. The JMI students did not want to be identified.
National Herald attempted to get in touch with the administrators of both JNU and JMI University, but they did not respond. This article will be updated if and when they state their position.
According to the Jamia Millia archives, JMI had observed the anti-terrorism day in 2016 in the hostels. The provosts and wardens of the hostel had led the residents of the boys and girls hostel in taking the anti-terrorism day pledge. However, there were no photographs of the events to ascertain if all the hostel residents participated or only the faculty participated as only the names of the faculty were given.
According to the Ministry notification, the officials and students were asked to take the pledge, “We, the people of India, have abiding faith in our country’s tradition of non-violence and tolerance, hereby solemnly affirm to oppose with our strength, all forms of terrorism and violence. We pledge to uphold and promote peace, social harmony, and understanding among all fellow human beings and fight the forces of disruption threatening human lives and values”.
The Jamia unit of All India Students Association (AISA) underscored that the event was a manifestation of Islamophobia on part of the MHA and the Jamia administration. ”Singling out a minority institution for an anti-terrorism pledge is highly questionable and incredibly problematic. Is there any reason apart from Islamophobia due to which students as young as 17 are expected to come to an online meeting in order to establish that they are not terrorists?” the association said in a press release.
The official announcement of National Anti Terrorism Day was made after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on May 21, 1991. The VP Singh-led Central government had decided to observe the day as anti-terrorism day.