No Democracy without Freedom of Expression

“Forty years back, my mother – who never saw the shadows of the walls of any school, as she lived the life of a manual scavenger – looked at education, and higher education as a way out of bondage and slavery.

“Today a mother is afraid to send her son to the university. Radhika Vemula is requesting me to ask Raja, Rohith Vemula’s brother, to not enroll in any university of this country. What is Raja doing today? Raja is running an auto-rickshaw in Guntur. It is a shame for the country”.

 Bezwada Wilson at JNU Freedom Square

In February 2016, Jawaharlal Nehru University student activists were filed on charges of sedition. Police personnel bombarded the campus in the name of surveillance, and the entire JNU community was accused of “anti-national” activities. A sustained student-teacher solidarity emerged as a response to the attack. This led to a “Teach-in” lecture series on Nationalism at the Administration Block, now popularly known as the Freedom Square.

One year later, the attack on JNU has further intensified. Ten students, who are first generation learners belonging to deprived backgrounds have been suspended for protesting against discriminatory admission policies, which were recently introduced by the JNU administration. Students as well as members of the faculty have been warned with show cause notices for raising their voices against the administration for introducing regressive policies.

The JNUSU and JNUTA have once again come together to raise their voices against the oppressive administration. This time, they are conducting a lecture series on Democracy and Social Justice.

The first speaker in the series was National Convenor of the Safai Karamchari Andolan and Magsaysay Award winner Bezwada Wilson. He gave a powerful speech on the “Crisis of Democracy and the Question of Rights”. Watch the video here: