The vice-chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has come up with what can only be described an 'interesting' way of instilling national pride and constantly reminding the university's students of the sacrifices made by the army to protect the country — he wants an army tank to be installed on the premises of the university.
According to a report in the Indian Express, JNU VC M Jagadesh Kumar called upon union ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and General VK Singh to help the university procure an army tank to be displayed at a prominent location on the premises. The tank, in his opinion, would help the students remember and respect the sacrifices of the country's martyrs.
The request was made during Kargil Vijay Diwas, part of the HRD ministry's Vijay Veerta Abhiyan celebrations on the campus on Sunday, 23 July, reported the Times of India. The celebrations were organised by the university and Veterans India, an organisation of ex-servicemen from the army, navy and air force. Other guests included cricketer Gautam Gambhir, major general (retired) GD Bakshi, author and Hindu activist Rajiv Malhotra and 23 families of martyrs.
The event started with a 'Tiranga March' of 2,200 feet-long tricolour from the main gate of the university to its convention centre. "The presence of the army tank will constantly remind thousands of students who pass through this university about the great sacrifices and valour of the Indian Army," Kumar said, with slogans of "Bharat Mata ki jai" being heard in the background.
This isn't the first time such an idea has been floated on the JNU campus. In the aftermath of the February 9 incident last year, where the alleged raising of anti-national slogans led to students being arrested for sedition, there was a similar call to showcase a military tank to instill nationalist, reported the Indian Express.
Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan claimed that the armies of no other country were undermined the way they were by some Indians. "JNU is always making headlines. But I am happy that under the current VC, the university has installed the Wall of Heroes and organised this Tiranga March," he said.
Minister of State, External Affairs, VK Singh called for national unity, saying, "India could never be invaded by an external force without the help of traitors. We should understand that if we are united, we cannot be defeated," reported TOI and that the Indian Army had the "best record" on human rights across the world.
Rajiv Malhotra on his part, was glad that JNU was finally being "captured", but GD Bakshi warned that despite the "victory" over JNU, the work was still incomplete, because Jadavpur University and Hyderabad Central University still remained to be "captured".
Rohith Vemula, a research scholar who committed suicide in 2016, was a student of Hyderabad University.
"We will create a situation where people will love the nation. And if they don't, we will force them to love it."
Referring to the incident last year, cricketer Gautam Gambhir said, "Standing in JNU, it takes me back to when there was a lot of talk about freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is important, but there are certain things which are absolutely non-negotiable. One is the respect for the tricolor."
Gambhir even expressed his support for Major Gogoi's decision to tie a Kashmiri man to the front of a military vehicle to deter stone-pelters. "I always maintained that people w'o're in extreme conditions should have all the right to protect themselves, their men and the country."
To add fat to this flaming fire of forced 'nationalism', head of Veterans India, BK Mishra, while congratulating JNU on the celebrations, said, "We will create a situation where people will love the nation. And if they don't, we will force them to love it."
The Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) have criticised the demand as 'bizarre' and 'shocking'.