More JNU students to join indefinite hunger strike

Say rightwing forces disturb harmony on campus

 Two JNU students are on hunger strike since Thursday night, and 10 more students will join them in demanding immediate revocation of the suspension order of a student allegedly involved in organising the ‘beef and pork food festival’.

They are also seeking to revoke show cause notices issued to three other students.
A group called ‘The New Materialists’ had announced to hold a ‘beef and pork festival’ on September 28, which was outright rejected by Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and its parent party, BJP.

ABVP and BJP had warned of consequences if the festival was allowed, citing a ban on cow slaughter.

Under the Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Act, there is a provision for five years imprisonment and Rs 10,000 fine for storing or serving beef.

“Not all the students on strike belong to The New Materialists. One student is from the Naga Student Forum, which supports the idea of serving pork and beef in campus canteens, while another one is from The New Materialist,” said Abhay Kumar, a student on strike.

Food culture

“All the other students support the fact that debate and discussions should be held on food culture in a democratic campus setup, such as JNU. But the administration’s crackdown is to instill fear,” said Kumar.

He is one of the students who was given a show cause notice for supporting the idea of a vibrant food culture on the campus. Kumar, who was contesting as an independent candidate, also raised this point in the recent JNUSU presidential debate.

“I am not a member of any group, but I think debate on food culture should be pursued on campus. If not here, then where? I was debating in a democratic way about certain kinds of food that are criminalised, tagged as pure and impure,” he said.

“When JNU invites students from all over the world, there are communities where beef and pork are their staple diet, so why cannot we debate on it?” he added.The protesting students said that the festival was given a ‘communal colour’ by rightwing forces present in JNU.

“We even complained to the administration about communal hatred being spread by rightwing forces here, but there was no action. Talking about a certain type of food culture does not mean that we are disrespecting any community,” said another protesting student.

“The rightwing parties were seen distributing offensive pamphlets targeting Muslims and Christians. Pamphlets showed Muslims butchering a cow. We condemn such acts and ask the administration to take action against miscreants,” said the student.

The students say the newly-formed JNU’s student body on October 3 had condemned the administration for trying “to scuttle voices, harass and torture students by sending notices and suspension orders”.

The JNUSU has announced a protest on Saturday against the administration’s decision.
“Despite telling the administration that we are not involved in organising the festival, they are not acting on it. They told us that the inquiry will continue. They have even called the suspended student on October 8 for further questioning,” said Kumar.
A senior official said inquiry is on in the matter.

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