Published: 19th August 2019
British punished Bhagat Singh, JNU punishing us for adorning walls with his words: JNUSU's response in poster row
13 JNU students were sent Show Cause Notices on August 9, for sticking posters on the university's walls. It is banned under the Delhi Defacement Act
I would want to ask, how different is the JNU administration from the British as they arrested and punished Bhagat Singh for speaking his mind. Today, we students are being threatened with punishment for wanting our walls to speak what Bhagat Singh spoke, reads the letter that N Sai Balaji, the current JNUSU President wrote. Balaji had sent it to JNU's Chief Proctor, as a response to a Show Cause Notice that he received, for pasting posters on the university's walls.
Since the beginning of the academic year, the university's administration had been taking down the posters stuck on its walls, creating an uproar among the students, faculty and the alumni. The students were also told that sticking posters on the walls is unlawful according to The Delhi Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, 2007. Protesting this, the JNUSU had called for a mass poster-making drive and stuck a set of new posters on July 23. These posters were later removed.
17 days since the event, 13 students were sent a Show Cause Notice by the Chief Proctor. All of them submitted their explanations on August 19. Balaji's letter begins by narrating a conversation between the university's first Vice-Chancellor Gopalaswami Parthasarathy and its architect C P Kukreja. When Kukreja informed Parthasarathy about students sticking posters on the university's walls, the latter apparently said, "This is a campus in a democracy. Let the buildings speak to the students. Let it become their canvas."
The letter states that the administration never consulted the students about enforcing the Defacement Act in JNU. It also calls the walls, the social media of the past, says that just the way the trolls took over social media, the university administration is taking down the wall posters. "Isn't leaving libraries without books, and walls without posters, the real defacement? The walls of JNU know the truth behind your Defacement Act — the administration wants to curb academic freedom of expression," reads the letter.