Students from Bihar have dominated the JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) for a long time. The nationwide protest following the arrest of JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar on charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy has once again brought Bihar into the limelight of students’ politics. Kanhaiya belongs to a poor family at Bihat in Bihar.
Several academics, including former Patna College principal Nawal K Chaudhary, took out a protest march on Sunday from the Patna University gate to Kargil Chowk here in support of Kanhaiya.
The fresh incident reminds the days in April 1997 when the students were attacked while demanding the arrest of the killers of former JNUSU president Chandrashekhar, who was then working for the CPI-ML in Siwan (Bihar). A ‘dabang’ politician had himself fired indiscriminately on a group of protesters at Bihar Niwas in Delhi.
In the mid 1980s, Chandrashekhar was the vice-president of the Bihar unit of All India Students’ Federation (AISF), the youth organization of the CPI, before switching over to All India Students’ Association (AISA), the youth wing of CPI-ML. Kanhaiya is the first AISF member to be elected the JNUSU president. Ashutosh, Shefalika, Sandip, Mona Das and some others from Bihar dominated in the Left wing of student politics for more than two decades.
Chandrashekar was elected to the JNUSU thrice, first as its vice-president in 1993, then as president for successive terms in 1994 and 1995. As JNUSU leader, he had led several campaigns for students’ rights. He had also made serious attempts to forge ties with student movements in other universities and institutions. After his JNU stint, Chandrashekar returned to his native place Siwan as a full-time CPI-ML activist. He was shot dead at JP Chowk in Siwan on March 31, 1997.
Former JNUSU and BHUSU president and noted sociologist Anand Kumar said, “Let us not forget that we have a Union finance minister Arun Jaitley and NCP MP D P Tripathi who had been jailed for 19 months as DUSU and JNUSU president, respectively, with similar baseless charges during Emergency. It was absolute abuse of power to arrest these two politicians in 1974 and it is equally wrong to arrest Kanhaiya on charges of sedition.”
Anil Kumar, a native of Bihar and professor at Visva-Bharati, said Kanhaiya has been made a scapegoat in the fight between Left and Right wing ideology.
List of some Bihar students who represented JNUSU:
Chandrashekhar (Siwan) — vice-president in 1993, president in 1994 and 1995
Mona Das (Bhagalpur) — general secretary in 2002 and 2003 and president in 2004 and 2005
Shefalika (Madhepura) — vice president in 2007
Mobin Alam (Katihar) — joint secretary in 2007
Piyush Raj (Nalanda) — joint secretary in 2012
Shakil (Jamui) — general secretary in 2012
Sandip Saurabh (Maner) — general secretary in 2013