Published: 02nd April 2017
CCTV Row: JNU students take down CCTV cams because they're worried their 'protests' will be doctored, misused like in Kanhaiya Kumar's case
JNUSU also believes that the management may use the cameras to intimidate women students by showing footage of them entering and leaving men's hostels to their parents. JNU still wants cams in place
There's never a quiet day at JNU. A day after the JNU Students Union protested against the management's move to set up CCTV cameras across the varsity's campus in Delhi, the management hit back by reportedly filing FIRs against five of the student unionists. College authorities are clear that CCTV cameras are no longer a luxury and simply need to be put in place, whether the students like it or not.
In an enlightened age of social media and increased surveillance being a mandate — the 'big brother is always watching' kind — one cannot help but wonder why students are so dead set against having cameras on campus. So we decided to ask them.
Here's why students don't want CCTV cameras at JNU:
Students fear that the footage captured on the CCTV could be misused and doctored, the same way that the video of Kanhaiya Kumar was doctored last year — the one that sparked off a national outrage, led to the term anti-national becoming fashionable and turned Kumar into a celebrity.
The students are worried about where all this CCTV info is going and on what account or basis it would be viewed or used, "At that point, the JNU administration said that they had only allowed the police to come in because he had shouted anti-national slogans. One JNU professor went out and claimed this was true and then it became such a massive issue. Who is to say that won't happen again?" questioned Amal P P, vice president of JNUSU.
Courtesy: Dirty Politics | YouTube
Since the campus is involved in a lot of activism, students fear that if the administration disapproves of any of these activities then they could easily and wrongly accuse them. "Why do we need be under surveillance all the time? They just want to know where we are and what we're doing all the time. This cannot just be about security. We have security guards at every hostel, every building and major points on campus," insisted Praveen T, a student.
We don't have money for scholarships but we have money to install such expensive CCTVs worth Rs 32,000 all around campus
JNU Student, Talking about the new CCTV system
One of the students said that since JNU is a very friendly and progressive campus, even if students are hanging out together it could be misconstrued. "The girls are allowed to go into the boy's hostels here, what if someone in the administration captured footage of a woman student visiting a made student at the hostel and the video is shown to her parents? We never know. These images could be easily tampered with," said Praveen.
Cams came up without consultation
The students also accuse the administration of taking the decision without consultation with other decision-making bodies such as the Inter- hostel body or any other democratic body. "The Inter hostel body hasn't even had a meeting in three years and there was no circular sent about the installation. Suddenly we noticed that there was come wiring work taking place, why does it have to be such a secretive thing?" Amal asked.
Instead, the students say that they wished the present VC would just hold an open house discussion with them on the issue, instead of keeping them under constant surveillance.
Did not break any cameras, handed over intact
Amal, who is one of the five against whom a FIR was lodged, said that the students did not cause any problems, maintained that contrary to reports, there was no violence and no protest. He even said that the cameras were removed "safely and handed back" to the management. "We did not break any cameras as they accused us of doing. We did not cause any damage to property," he added.
In a Facebook post, JNU student Umar Khalid who has been in the limelight since the Kanhaiya Kumar controversy broke out in 2016, indicated that the attack on freedom of speech was obvious since the FIR was launched the same day that Jadavpur University students were beaten up for opposing the RSS.
What's he saying: With the number of gatherings they have, practically anything can be doctored and shared on WhatsApp in seconds
Blow to the stomach: 24/7 Dhaba on campus asked to shut down at 11.30 pm
In another blow to the general functioning of students, a dhaba that has catered to their hunger around the clock has been asked to down shutters at 11.30 pm. Students on campus are distressed by the fact that their 24/7 dhabbas on campus have been asked to shut shop that early, "We are research students, we study all night and flock to these eateries now and then for some food. Now they won't allow that either," a student complained.