I visited the JNU campus after 11 years. My first story as a reporter had been from here where I had spoken to North Eastern. students on racial slurs. The change in the place shocked me to the core. Hundreds gathered at JNU, gheraoed us, harassed us and promised menacingly to block us from covering a press conference. Directionless students with confused ideology and zero aim were seen all around.
When we reached the Ganga Dhaba at 2.38 pm, we tried speaking to some students and were immediately gheraoed, and shouted at by the students. However, our questions went unanswered. We were not allowed to speak. Instead, we were asked which channel we are working with and then, the heckling began. It was non-stop heckling which went on for over four hours. The entire Republic crew ( we were four reporters and camera persons) was separately asked as to which channel we belonged to, and then the heckling and taunts began and continued. At 2.58 pm, a JNU student told me that the students will not hesitate to pick up arms.
The JNU student said, “Even we can pick up lathis and guns. Yesterday, it was our turn. Today, it can be the turn of the media and police as well. Like we were attacked with the lathis, even you can be beaten up by lathis.” He added, “We do not fear anyone. Why won’t we do lathi-charge? Do you think we are animals? We are fighting for our rights.”
This was followed by a group of JNU students who jeered and began a verbal attack, abusing us, mocking reporters, and said, "Go Back". At 3.07 pm, we spoke to JNU staff president Sharma who said that their means are wrong and they don't listen to us. While he was speaking, his colleagues warned him- 'You will be abused, don't tell them the truth'. But Sharma went on and revealed that JNU's name was getting ruined because of these miscreants. At around 3.16 pm, the press conference began. At 3:25 pm, despite our repeated attempt, we weren't allowed to keep our mike for the press conference. With our final protest, it was allowed. JNU students started shouting and sloganeering at us. After the two people had given the testimony, we finally got a chance to ask a question. At around 3.57 pm, our question left them exposed and very angry.
Republic asked - 'Is blocking ambulances your Azadi?' There was a roar in the audience and then, Republic was blocked. Our mike was shut off and hundreds shouted at me to go back. Yet, we got no answers. At 4.21 pm, we asserted that we would not leave and we have a right to report. At 4.22 pm, we asked questions on the gheraoing of teachers, vandalism and ambulance urgency. None were answered but we were jeered. At 4.24 pm, we moved to another location.
After one hour 8 minutes, the same JNU student who earlier gave a call for arms, this time said, “I was beaten yesterday. A physically handicapped person was beaten yesterday. I am saying that can’t I purchase an AK-47? We will open fire using guns. We will kill the journalists one by one.”
We reported non-stop unyielding in our efforts to report the truth. At 5.20 pm, we saw another group of students telling us that they were against the protest and the means. Inwardly grateful, we heaved a sigh of relief. There were at least some students in JNU who were against the protest. The events saddened me at how JNU's name is being besmirched for an agenda by some elements.