Published: 20th March 2018
Former JNU student raps about Atul Johri, gets death threats within hours
This is not the first time that Rahul Rajakhowa has been threatened, he first started getting threats when he uploaded a video about JNU three years ago
It has only been a few hours since musician and former JNU student Rahul Rajakhowa uploaded his video rapping about JNU's attendance row and the sexual harassment case against Prof Atul Jofri. And in those few hours, he has received death threats, cursed with racial slurs and repeatedly slammed with the words -"anti-national". He's used to it, he says, "Doesn't matter to me. I say what I have to say."
Rahul is a 23-year-old musician, originally from Assam. After completing his undergraduate degree in History from St. Stephens, Delhi, he went on to do a Masters in International Relations from JNU and graduated last year. Rahul has been singing since he was 12, started rapping when he was in the 12th grade and set up his own band while in college. The rap song he composed in his first year of college was the first to go viral, "A professor on campus with a right-wing ideology wrote a racist piece about how North Eastern students are the cause for the drug problem, she spoke about how North Eastern students are always eating snakes and dogs and made other such derogatory comments. In response, I made this video condemning her statement and about the other discrimination North Eastern students have to go through in Delhi," he explained.
With his first video itself, Rahul started to receive a lot of hate online,"All the BJP trolls were out to get me. They told me I should jump off a cliff, said I should be lynched, beaten and one even said that I should be burned alive. They also inevitably bring up the fact that I'm from the North East and then throw racial comments at me." Initially, he did worry but Rahul says he feels he is safe because India is after all still a democracy. "My parents would also advise me to not talk about these controversial subjects and would worry about my safety but I don't care about the trolls anymore. They troll me just because I'm from JNU, they don't even listen to what I have to say," he said.
Rahul followed this video with four others during his time at JNU and they all dealt with issues that the students were facing on campus and also the country at large, including the anti-national debate, JNU's controversial VC, mob lynching and the online trolling of women activists from JNU campuses and others, "I noticed how much women like Shehla Rashid and Gurmehar Kaur would get slut-shamed for their comments on Twitter and decided that I should speak up about it. It is only through art and media that we can throw light on these issues," he said.
Since he has already graduated from JNU, Rahul did not initially see the point of posting any more rap videos dealing with JNU issues till one of his former professors told him - "Once a JNU student, always a JNU student". It was for this reason that Rahul decided to come back and talk about Atul Johir and the attendance row and as expected he was bombarded with death threats again, "We cannot allow a sexual predator to be on campus. I know that he has a close association with the BJP, which I have no problem with because I've got a neutral political opinion. But it is because of this association that he was being shielded by the VC and the police. I cannot stand for this. We have to take every step to ensure safety for our women on campus."
"I know that a lot of students leaders have also gone quiet this time because there is fear that the JNU VC will take over as the UGC Chairman and that would mean that our academic lives are at stake. But I urge people to speak up - that is the true JNU spirit," he said.
Rahul's rap video joins the voices of hundreds of other JNU students who had been relentlessly protesting over the last few days demanding the dismissal of Johri from his academic duties and for his immediate arrest. He hopes to continue raising his voice for issues in the future as well, "All my music is original and they all have messages. I feel that we have to use music to better our society otherwise what's the point. But of course, I want them to dance and enjoy themselves too," he says laughing.