NEW DELHI -- Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung today said he disfavoured action against students for alleged anti-national slogan shouting in JNU campus and suggested that instead they should be engaged in dialogue.
He also said that police "is invited only in cases of acute arson, not when there is sloganeering".
Jung told India Today TV channel that while he would not encourage anti-nationalism, he would also not take action against students for mere slogan shouting. "I would feel sorry for them," he said.
Jung, who had served as the VC of Jamia Millia Islamia university before taking over as the Delhi LG, said the controversy over the 9 February JNU event may have happened as the varsity had a "new Vice Chancellor".
"Police is invited only in cases of acute arson, not when there is sloganeering. Perhaps (the former VC) would have enhanced dialogue. We could have avoided the incident that stretched for a month," he said.
On calls for "azaadi" in Kashmir and "Pakistan zindabad" slogans, he said, "I think the Kashmiris have genuine problems over heavy army presence. I think they have genuine concern over the imposition of AFSPA. I would speak to them, counsel them but I would not encourage anti-nationalism."
On the debate over raising of slogans such as 'Bharat Mata Ki jai', Jung said no one can be "forced" to say anything.
"You can say I don't want to say it but that does not mean I am not nationalistic, that would not mean I am anti-India," he said.
Jung said there was a difference between raising slogans hailing the motherland and those praising the almighty, including 'Allah'.
"People are losing the nuances of the words. Saying 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' is different from worshipping any deity or Allah or god. It's a matter of pride for a person belonging to any country to love his country and, therefore, would be absolutely happy to say 'madre-watan zindabad', 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' or whatever," he said.
He said he would not "eat beef in this country" but would not insist on bans like that on beef even as he added that there was a need to "ignore" fringe elements.
"In a democracy, we need to give a lot of space to minorities. They need hand-holding. I would care for them. There is no need for harsh words," he said.
However, Jung said he would be "very uncomfortable" with a person who shouts anti-India slogans. In criticising the nation, one needs to be "careful in public", he said.
Jung said it would be "incorrect" to say police had done nothing to protect JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar at the Patiala House court premises, where journalists were also attacked by men in black robes.
"Any incident that happens like what happened to Kanhaiya is symbolic of inadequate and poor policing. Whether police should have been tougher, the jury is out on that.
"A brutal response by the police on the lawyers could have led to a much larger problem. It could have well been a mistake. Post-mortem is being done and action will be taken very soon," he said.
Also see on HuffPost: