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Dear Mr President, You Guided Us After Dadri. Now We Need Your Help With JNU

27/02/2016 5:28 PM IST | Updated 22/02/2017 7:10 PM IST
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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets the audience as he prepares to deliver the 37th Singapore Lecture Monday, Nov. 23, 2015, in Singapore as he starts his two-day official visit to the city-state. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

Dear Rashtrapatiji,

I am writing my heart out to you through this open letter because I believe that the request I am going to make here constitutes an issue of national importance.

The post of the President is a symbol of Constitutional sanctity and needless to say that in this age of deceit, the nation needs you (and the Supreme Court) for guidance in the event of a Constitutional crisis or threat to our democracy. So far, you have not let us down.

Whenever you say something, the people feel that the conscience of the nation is speaking.

It is still fresh in my memory that when almost the entire country was outraged over the brutal lynching of an Indian citizen in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, our Prime Minister chose to stay quiet for far too long. However, you came forward and offered us words of guidance, urging us to maintain the nation's "plurality" and "secularism". This resulted in the breaking of the PM's long, intriguing silence on the incident. I believe your words prodded him out of his slumber. The crux is that whenever you speak, the nation hears with its heart as much as it does with its ears. Whenever you say something, the people feel that the conscience of the nation is speaking.

Now, I would like to visit the particular context in which I have decided to write this letter to you: the JNU controversy. On 9 February 2016, a few students allegedly gathered in the JNU campus along with some people from outside to commemorate Afzal Guru's execution which they termed as a "judicial killing". Afzal Guru was hanged after being convicted by the highest court of this country and whose mercy petition, you too had declined to accept. In this ceremony, a few students allegedly shouted anti-India slogans such as "Bharat ki barbadi" and called for the disintegration of India. This resulted in the registration of an FIR under section 124A (Sedition) and 120B of the Indian Penal Code against some unnamed accused. Ultimately, the president of the JNU students union, Kanhaiya Kumar, was arrested and has been kept under judicial custody.

spoke when the secularism of India was in question, and now we need to hear your voice when India's sovereignty and integrity are in question.

The arrest of JNUSU's president has led to a huge uproar all across the nation, followed by a heated debate on the limits of freedom of expression. The students of the university are currently sitting on strike demanding the release of the accused. This ongoing controversy is also being widely covered by the international media, following the support offered to JNU students by some acclaimed academicians from various educational institutions of the world including Oxford, Harvard, Yale etc. Clearly, this issue has attracted international attention and is no longer confined to Indian territory.

I have decided to write to you because you are the 'Visitor' of Jawaharlal Nehru University as defined under section 8(1) of the 'The Jawaharlal Nehru University Act 1966' and are invested with the "Power to cause an inquiry to be made in respect of any matter connected with the University" under section 8(3) of the said Act.

In my opinion, this ongoing controversy requires your urgent intervention, including your use of your legally defined powers in the university. In addition, as President, you are in a unique position to show the light to misguided students who are calling for the disintegration of the nation at a university which strives for the exact opposite. This is the time when you should order an inquiry in this matter, because the issue involved is as vital as the "Security, Sovereignty and Integrity" of India. Such a dangerous and threatening pledge to break India into pieces by a few students cannot be taken lightly.

I believe that if your message of maintaining "pluralism" and "secularism" in the country could calm the politically created communal ambience post the Dadri incident, your invocation of "Security, Sovereignty and Integrity" in this particular context could also be helpful in guiding the misguided youth who vowed to break India into pieces. The words of your conscience, in this context, shall certainly be immensely helpful in turning the tide. You spoke when the secularism of India was in question, and now we need to hear your voice when India's sovereignty and integrity are in question. I hope you speak before your silence starts speaking louder than your voice.

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