Emergency Files: Part 4 – JNUSU President D. P. Tripathi and Councillor Sitaram Yechury Arrested

(As students all across India are fighting to defend their political freedom from assaults by the central government and the Sangh Parivar, Bodhi Commons is republishing the Emergency Files, a series of pamphlets brought out by the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) in Jawaharlal Nehru University, during the period of the Emergency (1975-77). This is the fourth part of the series. The previous parts can be read here (part 1) and here (part 2) and here (part 3).)

The assault on the people intensified as the Emergency progressed, and found reflection in the JNU campus as well.

The elections to the JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) had been banned soon after the Emergency was declared. Hence the Constitution of the Union was amended through an Extraordinary University General Body Meeting (the University General Body Meeting is the highest decision making body of the students in JNU), and the terms of the office bearers were extended till such time as elections could be held. This was duly conveyed to the JNU authorities by the Union President D. P. Tripathi in a letter dated 24 September, and the University had transferred the Students’ Union funds to the Union's account. On 1 October, the Union President received a letter from the JNU authorities - in which he was addressed as ‘President, Students’ Union’ - inviting him to attend the next Academic Council Meeting.

In early November 1975, a fresh wave of attacks began on the students of JNU. Sitaram Yechury, then Councillor of the JNUSU from the School of Social Sciences (and today the General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)), was arrested on 4 November.

The administration had earlier tried to "do away" with the Union by declaring that membership to the Union would be voluntary. However, to their surprise, almost all students became members of the Union, thus foiling the attempt. And now an Academic Council meeting was scheduled to take place on 7 November to discuss the notorious recommendations of the Deans' Committee, which included the withdrawal of all the rights of the Student-Faculty Committees (see Emergency Files: Part 2 for details) with regard to admission, making "A minus" the qualifying grade to be promoted to Ph.D. after M.Phil. (JNU has an integrated M.Phil./Ph.D. programme), the introduction of purely "merit scholarships" in place of the "merit-cum-means scholarships" (the latter took into account the family income of the student along with academic performance) etc. However, the administration knew that the Students’ Union would prove to be a stumbling block in the implementation of these proposals, and that the Union's activities had to be curbed to facilitate the authoritarian designs of the administration and the government in the future as well.

In early November 1975, a fresh wave of attacks began on the students of JNU. Sitaram Yechury, then Councillor of the JNUSU from the School of Social Sciences (and today the General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)), was arrested on 4 November. On 6 November, the JNUSU was "derecognised" by the administration, notwithstanding the fact that the JNUSU was formed by the students themselves and not by the administration. On 7 November, the JNUSU President D. P. Tripathi was prevented from attending the Academic Council meeting. But he insisted that he be allowed to attend the meeting and to express his views, and the meeting was 'adjourned' before it could begin. In retaliation, an order was issued by the Vice-Chancellor on the night of the 7th, expelling Tripathi from the University. The very next day, four and half months after the Emergency was declared, D. P. Tripathi was arrested by the police.

Here is the pamphlet by 'The Resistance' which reported the latest developments:

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(To be continued)