Published: 08th July 2019
I wrote the letter for my mother, for India: Why JNUSU President Sai Balaji wrote an open letter to PM Modi
"This is your New India, where the constitution, rule of law and justice are words only meant to be written in books and preserved through archaeology," Balaji writes in his letter
Days after the Jawaharlal Nehru University's (JNU) Proctor's Office academically suspended the current and former Students' Union presidents, N Sai Balaji and Geeta Kumari respectively, along with current Joint Secretary Amutha Jayadeep and numerous other students activists as they have proctorial inquiries pending against them, N Sai Balaji has penned down an open letter "filled with pain, anguish and disappointment" to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. His letter states that the student community will keep fighting for truth and justice, seeking freedom from "Hindutva and corporate loot".
The students said that the suspension is a result of the fact that they stood up against the unfair policies of the administration. Balaji added that they were not allowed to register for the semester and the reason provided was that they had been academically suspended by the Chief Proctor's Office. The letter is a response to these unfair practices combined, says Balaji. However, the major reason behind penning down the open letter has a larger context, he explains.
"My mother called after she got to know about the suspension and she sounded extremely upset, she asked me to go home and I said that's what the administration has planned anyway — they are sending me home. She got angry and she put the phone down. Then I called my father and he told me that she was worried, so I said that this is part and parcel of our lives but what can we do? When I thought about this later, I realised how Modi Ji makes a big deal out of the events when he meets his mother, takes her blessing before he does something. So, what about our mothers? Whatever educational policies he or his party has put in place, those have mostly cost the students and their families their livelihoods or education. If we are suspended it has a huge impact on our family as well," says Balaji. "I am the only one in my family who has completed his graduation and is a PhD scholar, both my parents are only graduates. They wanted me and my brother to study as much as we want and they worked really hard to help us achieve our dreams. Now, when they saw this they were simply heartbroken. It's just not my family that is getting affected, there are thousands and lakhs of students and their families who face the same — some are not able to secure a seat at a top university because of unfair reservation, unable to pay the fees because of the massive fee hike, unable to get quality education due to lack of teachers. Thus it is the whole system that these people have destroyed," he adds.
The letter states that the ruling party, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its party workers has time and again celebrated the ethos and spirit of Manusmriti. "Modi Ji, the organisation you cherish to belong to — RSS — has time and again celebrated the ethos and spirit of Manusmriti. In 1949, through its official magazine RSS manifested its love for Manusmriti and its hate for Indian constitution where it called principles like equality and others not part of Indian culture. The antagonism towards our constitution from RSS and BJP has been evident through statements of yours MPs, Ministers, and party members, not to miss RSS stalwarts. It's not ironical that the first notice I got in March 2016 was for burning those texts of Manusmriti on International Women’s day which were completely anti-women and anti-Dalit. It is in this context, Rohith’s suspension and later his institutional murder have to be remembered. It was a message to students and people in general who resisted RSS’s Hindutva filled idea of India that you will be shown your place i.e. on the street, marginalised, along with all state propaganda against you," reads the open letter.
Balaji says that he was inspired by Rohith Vemula and that's why he does what he does now. "Rohith's mother, Radhika Ma, once told me that I shouldn't study at the university as they could throw me out or even get me killed as they did to her son. And she said then that she wouldn't send her younger son to study at a university at all. It is such a painful thing for a mother to say. These families, their pain is not justified, so that's why I thought I will write this letter because people need to read this even if the PM has a busy schedule and he might not," concludes the current JNUSU president.
Read the full letter here.