Published: 21st December 2018
This despotic, fascist regime in our country has to go: Sai Balaji on JNU dhabas facing closure
The JNU administration's decision to shut down dhabas on the campus has come as a shocker to the students
For the students at JNU, their on-campus canteens and dhabas are central to their lives and politics. Since their inception, students have been using them for political debates and discussions, and the billboards there have been mostly used for sticking posters and leaflets. Currently, these dhabas are facing closure as the administration has sent formal notices of eviction to the shops on Thursday.
At the Jawaharlal Nehru University, the student protest marches are usually said to begin from the Sabarmati dhaba and end at the Ganga dhaba. Now, the administration is on a spree to shut down these dhabas. And this is not the first time, there have been several threats in the past to close the other canteens and dhabas on the campus.
Eviction notices were served for the shops at the Lohit Hostel inside the JNU campus recently and the JNUSU members alleged that the administration had not called a meeting of the Campus Development Committee before taking these decisions.
"The notice clearly says that they are closing them down, I don't understand on what basis or reason they want to do this. But I think it's very clear that the college authorities want to shut down small businesses and vendors. This decision was not taken in a democratic manner, the campus development committee which is in place for this very reason did not meet and it was not invited. The decision was taken by the executive council which does not have any representation of the students," says N Sai Balaji, JNUSU president.
He also criticised the administration’s decision, accusing the Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar of attempting to privatise and “corporatise” the public spaces such as the dhabas and canteens at the university.
"I have been repeatedly saying this is a top-down approach, whatever Modi Ji does their puppets, the so-called Vice-Chancellors follow the same thing. The government has been implementing an agenda that is against small vendors and one which pushes for corporate businesses. Similarly, at the JNU campus, public places are being closed down, small eateries removed, in order to be in favour of big corporates. Now chai will cost Rs 100, people who sit at dhabas, who sit and discuss academics, current day politics, issues, they won't be able to do that inside the campus. It is clear that this one way to suppress democracy and kill small businesses," adds Balaji.
Balaji criticised the "autocratic and dictatorial manner in which the university is being run." He says that the only way to stop it is to change the current government.
"What can we do? The only way is to change the government. Are they allowing protests to happen in this country? No. This is an undeclared emergency in the country. We have conducted numerous protests, but why do you think the government is not removing the VC? Because they want him to do this. I think the only way to stop it is to bring someone else to power at the centre. My MPhil has been stopped by the current administration for raising my voice against this government. This despotic, fascist regime has to go because they just want to implement their communal, corporate agenda in the country, that is the reason they are not removing the VC," concludes Balaji.