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The making of the Kargil disaster

The Kashmir Monitor




By Nasim Zehra

On May 17, 1999, the prime minister was given a detailed operational briefing on Operation KohPaima (Op KP). It was held at the Inter Services Intelligence’s (ISI’s) Ojhri Camp office, only a few miles away from Islamabad, against the backdrop of Indian press reports claiming that Mujahideen under fire cover provided by Pakistani soldiers had infiltrated along the Line of Control (LoC)…
The Director General Military Operations (DGMO) Lt Gen Tauqir Zia gave the detailed presentation. The entire Kargil clique, including the army chief Gen Pervez Musharraf, the Chief of General Staff Lt Gen Aziz Khan, Commander 10 Corps Lt Gen Mahmud Ahmed, and Commander Force Command Northern Areas (FCNA) Brigadier Javed Hassan, was present. Key men from ISI in attendance included the DG ISI Lt Gen Ziauddin Butt, director analysis wing Major Gen Shahid Aziz, and ISI’s point man for Afghanistan and Kashmir Maj Gen JamshedGulzar, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, accompanied by the Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz, the Finance Minister, the Minister for Northern Areas and Kashmir Affairs Lt Gen (r) Majeed Malik, the Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad, and his principal secretary Saeed Mehdi.
DGMO Zia began the presentation with the words: “Sir, as per your desire we have made a plan to upgrade the freedom movement in Kashmir.” It would be a five-phased operation and the first phase had been completed, he explained. He then proceeded to show, on the map, scores of positions that had already been taken. However, military maps without any text were used for the briefing. Nothing was written and they only had symbols on them. Normally, even military men receiving briefings on such maps, with only symbols, first require orientation to understand what these maps represent. For example, the LoC was not clearly demarcated on the map. Hence, during the presentation, when Pakistani and Indian positions were pointed out to the prime minister, he was unable to fully comprehend the locations of these posts. Instead, for him, the main focus of the briefing were the achievements of the Pakistani troops. There was no mention of Pakistani troops crossing the LoC, nor of the Pakistani troop build-up five to 10 kilometres beyond the LoC. One of the retired generals recalled, “I saw scores of positions across the LoC in the IOK [Indian Occupied Kashmir] area.”
Indian Kashmir is spread over three areas: the Jammu sector, PirPanjal Range to the [Kashmir] valley, and the Leh and Ladakh sector. The entry from Jammu to the valley is through the Manihaal Pass and from Leh and Ladakh the entry is through the Zojila Pass. The DGMO explained that, in phase two, “We will infiltrate freedom fighters into Leh and Ladakh, who will start the insurgency in the area.” In phase three, the general predicted that, when pressure was applied on the Indian forces from the flanking sectors through the operations of these infiltrating groups, the Indians would start bringing their troops to Ladakh and Jammu, leaving the valley virtually drained of troops. In phase four, the DGMO explained, Pakistan would rush in large numbers of freedom fighters into the valley and block the Manihaal and Zojila passes, thereby isolating the valley and occupying the area. The general predicted that in phase five, the final phase, the Indians would be on their knees begging for talks and Pakistan could dictate its own terms.
The DGMO proceeded to share the four assumptions which, according to its planners, guaranteed the success of the five-­phase Op KP. First, each post being held was impregnable. Second, the Indians did not have the will or the determination to take on Pakistan in a fight and would not make any serious effort to regain the heights. Third, as far as the international context was concerned, Pakistan need not worry because there would be no external pressure. Fourth, that the army recognised the economic crunch faced by the country and therefore the government would not be asked for any extra resources for operation; the army would use its own sources to fulfil the financial requirements.
The main thrust of the presentation was to inform the elected leadership of the army’s “achievements” along and across the LoC. The impression given was that the strategic heights lay somewhere in the un-demarcated zones. The DGMO informed the participants that Pakistan’s troops had occupied strategic heights that Indians would now find almost impossible to reoccupy. The army chief emphasised the irreversibility factor and said that, based on the wisdom and experience of his entire professional career, he could “guarantee the success of the operation.”
The thrust of the briefing was to inform the civilian participants that, because of the operation, the tempo of “jihad” would increase, that only the Mujahideen were conducting the operations and Pakistan was only providing logistical support, and that militarily the peaks taken by the Mujahideen were impregnable. The architects of KohPaima were confident that India would first “create noise, then respond militarily, but the fighting to follow would be restricted to the operation’s area. Finally, India would be quiet, the participants were told, and tell its public that it had retaken the peaks. This flawed assumption by the KohPaima architects was, in fact, a wishful extrapolation from what had mostly been Pakistan’s own response pattern to major Indian incursions across the LoC. Especially after India launched a major operation in 1984 to occupy the Siachen glacier, Pakistan under the military ruler Gen ZiaulHaq had remained mum. No response from India, the architects concluded, would provide Pakistan with bargaining chips over Kashmir.
Flattery was in abundance. The CGS piled on more, “Sir, you will go down in the history of Pakistan as the PM in whose tenure Kashmir was resolved.”
Clearly, the masterminds of Kargil were not seeking permission for the operation they had already launched. The prime minister was presented with a fait accompli. With the cover of Op KP having been nearly blown and diplomatic pressure imminent, the Kargil clique was seeking political and diplomatic cover for the operation. The prime minister was pointedly asked if he and his team could politically and diplomatically leverage their ‘unassailable’ military achievements to promote and project the Kashmir cause.
Following the DGMO, the CGS Lt. Gen. Aziz Khan rose to flatter the prime minister. “Sir, Pakistan was created with the efforts of the Quaid and the Muslim League and they will always be remembered for creating Pakistan and now Allah has given you the opportunity and the chance to get India-held Kashmir and your name will be written in golden letters,” he declared. CGS Aziz also invoked the PM’s Kashmiri descent and lured him with the possibility that “after Quaid, it is a unique opportunity to be remembered as the FatahiKashmir.”
The ISI’s point man for Afghanistan and Kashmir, Lt. Gen Gulzar, also gave a presentation on the Mujahideen. Gulzar recounted the limitations of the Mujahideen, their inability to inflict heavy damage on the Indian Army, capable only of ‘softening’ the environment for the Pakistan Army to move in, but also pointed out that the Mujahideen were not present in the area of the operation. However, the only route available for the movement of Indian weapons, troops and supplies in the Srinagar and Leh area was where the Mujahideen could lay ambushes, attack isolated military posts, blow up bridges and culverts.
Steadfast in their dedication to their institutional ethos, all the men in uniform raised no questions at the presentation. As would later transpire, the top commanders in the ISI were all sceptical of, if not totally opposed to, Op KP. Lt. Gen. Gulzar would subsequently criticise the operation as a “blunder of Himalayan proportions,” born of a temptation that every Commander 10 Corps would face upon finding an “open space.” Emphasising the point, the general would later recall, “When I took over the command of 10 Corps, I had to put my troops on a leash because they would say we can move forward since we are on a height.”
Similarly, years later, the then head of the ISI’s analysis wing Maj Gen Shahid Aziz would write, “An unsound military plan based on invalid assumptions, launched with little preparation and in total disregard to the regional and international environment, was bound to fail. That may well have been the reason for its secrecy. It was a total disaster.”
There was a divided response from the civilian participants. The DGMO pointedly asked Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad if the Kargil situation could be utilised to “feed into our effort to project Kashmir.” The general was keen to know if diplomatic advantage could be derived from this military operation. Noncommittally, the Foreign Secretary indicated that it might be possible. Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz, however, expressed his reservations on two counts: one, that it was incongruent with the spirit of the Lahore summit [held in February the same year] and, two, that the US would not support the operation.
Sartaj Aziz pointedly asked his PM whether the plan the army had made was not contrary to the undertaking in the Lahore Declaration. “Sartaj Aziz Sahib, can we ever take Kashmir through paperwork? We have here an opportunity to take Kashmir,” was a relaxed Nawaz Sharif’s response. By contrast, his foreign minister was perturbed. He was clear that this operation would not help Pakistan get international support for Kashmir.
The other obviously perturbed man in the room was Sharif’s minister for Kashmir and Northern Areas, Majeed Malik. A retired general, Malik grilled the Commander 10 Corps about the logistics for the forward troops. He interrogated how the supplies would reach the troops under “adverse weather conditions and in a hostile environment.” He recalled the hazardous terrain he had personally visited. Lt Gen Mahmud’s curt response was that times had changed, that “our troops are fully covered.” The retired general also asked the DGMO, “What if the Indians do not remove their troops from the valley and instead induct air power in the conflict theatre?” Meanwhile, the silent worrier in the room, Sharif’s defence secretary, also a retired general, opted to not raise any questions. At the conclusion of the formal meeting, he merely whispered to other military officers, “The foreign office will never be able to handle this.”
The prime minister only sought his cabinet members’ opinion regarding the operation; he asked no tough questions himself. Based on whatever he understood regarding the operation, and factoring in the reservations expressed by his ministers, the elected prime minister opted to go along with the fait accompli presented to him by the military. He wanted a resolution of the Kashmir issue and appeared convinced that Op KP would advance that objective. He was perhaps also swayed by the upbeat tone of the DGMO’s ‘victoryalltheway’ presentation and partly by the notion that he was well on his way to becoming the man “whose name will go down in history in golden words as the man who liberated Kashmir.” The prime minister took well to the words of the CGS that for the PM “after the Quaid it is a unique opportunity to be remembered as the FatahiKashmir.”
Flattery was in abundance. The CGS piled on more, “Sir, you will go down in the history of Pakistan as the PM in whose tenure Kashmir was resolved.” In response to this, Nawaz responded, “But then you didn’t tell me when you will fly the flag of Pakistan in Srinagar.” Civilians present registered this as a comment made in jest. Meanwhile, flattery plus the army chief’s claim that, based on the wisdom and experience of his entire professional life, he could “guarantee the success of the operation,” had won Nawaz Sharif’s support for Op KP.
The prime minister had not factored in the clearly stated reservations of his foreign minister and minister for Kashmir and Northern Areas. He was assured of no military reverses, and he chose to believe his military commanders. Interestingly, at no point during the meeting was there any exchange between the PM and the military men signalling Sharif’s prior knowledge of the operation. There was only a passing reference made in the DGMO’s opening comments to the PM’s March approval given at the ISI-convened meeting to “upgrade the freedom movement in Kashmir.”
The most vocal critic, however, was the secretary of defence. The retired general spoke for about 20 minutes, warning that Op KP would either end in all-out war or a total military disaster for Pakistan. … Implying that the army command had launched Op KP without clearance from the government, the defence secretary emphasised that the army was not an independent body and had to take orders from the government.
As the meeting drew to a close, the CGS proposed a joint prayer for the success of Op KP. The prime minister asked him to lead the joint prayer. With this, the meeting concluded. Most present at the meeting, including those who subsequently became the harshest critics of the operation, believed it would be a success.
Immediately after the meeting, the defense secretary, Lt. Gen (r) Iftikhar Ali Khan, followed the prime minister in his car. It was about 9pm and Sharif was entering the lift in the Prime Minister’s House when Iftikhar, hurriedly following him, said, “Sir, can I talk to you? It is important.” The nation’s chief executive asked him if he could wait till the next morning. The defence secretary persisted. He said he wanted to ask two questions. One: Did the military leadership get his permission to cross the LoC? The prime minister asked him whether the army had actually crossed the LoC. “Didn’t you note all that about ‘hundreds of posts’ and that NLI troops, not freedom fighters, have crossed the LoC?”
Gen Iftikhar continued asking his second question: “Crossing the LoC, Mian Sahib, you know has implications for war?” Late at night, the rather surprised prime minister said, “Why a war? And who has crossed the LoC?” He was told that about five to six hundred square kilometres of Indian territory and hundreds of posts had been occupied. The prime minister instructed the defence secretary to explain the situation to his minister the next morning.
(Excerpts from well known Pakistan writer and columinist, NasimZehra’s book, ‘From KargilTo The Coup: Events That Shook Pakistan’. Courtesy: The Dawn)
(To Be Concluded)


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Some baffling decisions of the SC

The Kashmir Monitor



By Manini Chatterjee

Of the three pillars of the state, the judiciary has always evoked much greater respect from ordinary citizens than either the legislature or the executive. Since the legislature comprises elected representatives of the people, we — the people who elect them — feel justly entitled to criticize them at will. The executive, similarly, is more often pilloried than praised when it fails to deliver on its many promises.

The judiciary, on the other hand, has usually been treated as a hallowed institution. Judges, unlike politicians, are seen not only as wise but also possessed of thinner skins. The fear of being hauled up for contempt of court (what construes contempt remains a mystery to most of us) acts as a deterrent to commenting on the judiciary.


But that silence was broken last year. And not by an irreverent media or crusading activists or outspoken lawmakers. It was members of the highest judiciary who dealt the blow, coming out with home truths whose reverberations have yet to subside.

On January 12, 2018, the then four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court — J. Chelameswar, RanjanGogoi, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph — held an unprecedented press conference in the capital. In the course of the press conference, they revealed the letters they had written to the then Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, questioning his style of administration and the manner in which he allocated cases to difference benches of the court. Expressing dismay at the CJI’s refusal to address their grievances, they said, “Unless the institution of Supreme Court is preserved, democracy won’t survive in the country.”

That press conference, which alluded to government interference in the workings of the court, was not a one-off affair. Soon after, in separate letters to the CJI, J. Chelameswar and Kurian Joseph expressed concerns about the judiciary’s independence in face of the executive’s encroachment.

But what made waves in circles well beyond the judiciary was RanjanGogoi’s speech on July 12 to a packed auditorium in Delhi.Delivering the RamnathGoenka memorial lecture, Gogoi spoke at length on the “Vision of Justice” and the role of the judiciary in upholding constitutional ideals.

In the course of the lecture, he quoted an article from the Economist which said, “…independent judges and noisy journalists are democracy’s first line of defence.” Gogoi went on to say, “I agree but will only suggest a slight modification in today’s context — not only independent judges and noisy journalists, but even independent journalists and sometimes noisy judges.” Those words made headlines then and have been quoted frequently since.

Pointing out that the judiciary had been endowed with great societal trust, he said, “This very fact gives it its credibility and this very credibility gives it its legitimacy… I will only say that if it wishes to preserve its moral and institutional leverage, it must remain uncontaminated. And, independent. And, fierce. And, at all times. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. So is an institution.”

Gogoi’s speech was remarkable because he was in line to be the next Chief Justice. In fact, many feared that he had risked his career with that speech and the government might not elevate him to the post of the CJI after Dipak Misra retired.

Those fears were belied. Gogoi became the Chief Justice of India in early October. But, truth be told, hopes that a feisty judiciary would force more transparency on opaque and questionable executive decisions have also remained unfulfilled.

Some of the Supreme Court’s decisions, such as in the case relating to the removal of the Central Bureau of Investigation chief, has left even retired judges puzzled.

On October 23, the government conducted a midnight raid on the headquarters of the CBI and seized a whole lot of material related to pending investigations. It then summarily removed the CBI chief, AlokVerma, from his post. Since Verma had been appointed by a three-member selection committee (comprising the prime minister, the leader of the largest Opposition party and the CJI), he contended that only that committee could remove him — and not the central vigilance commissioner. Verma moved the Supreme Court with alacrity against his arbitrary removal.

The apex court chose not to adjudicate on the removal. Instead, it appointed a retired Supreme Court judge, A.K. Patnaik, to supervise a CVC probe into the allegations of corruption levelled against Verma by his bête noire, the then CBI special director, Rakesh Asthana. It directed the probe be completed within two weeks. The three-judge bench of Gogoi, Sanjay KishanKaul, and K.M. Joseph passed no strictures against the manner in which the raids were conducted by the government nor asked why and what materials had been seized.

Although the probe was completed in two weeks and the report presented to the court, it was not till January 8 that the judges delivered their verdict. On the face of it, the verdict was a victory for Verma. It said that only the three-member selection committee could transfer or divest Verma of his powers, and not the CVC or the Centre.

Again, puzzlingly, it passed no strictures against the government for removing him in the manner it did. Instead, it asked the selection committee to go through the contents of the CVC probe report and decide in a week whether Verma should be exonerated or indicted.

The government convened a meeting the very next day and less than 48 hours after he was reinstated as CBI chief, Verma was once again given marching orders. The CJI had recused himself from the panel, and appointed the judge, A.K. Sikri in his stead. Sikri and the prime minister, Narendra Modi, voted to remove Verma while MallikarjunKharge dissented.

What followed has been extremely unflattering for the apex court. A.K. Patnaik, the judge who had supervised the CVC probe, told The Indian Express that “[t]here was no evidence against Verma regarding corruption”, that the decision to remove him was “very very hasty”, and that the committee “should have applied their mind thoroughly, especially as a Supreme Court judge was there.”

Speaking to The Telegraph, two highly respected former Chief Justices of India also expressed misgivings on the way the committee took the decision without giving Verma a chance to present his side of the case. Former CJI, T.S. Thakur, underlined that if a decision was being taken on the basis of an adverse report against an individual, that individual must be given an opportunity to present his point of view. “If that process has not been followed… then any decision based on such adverse findings will be contrary to the principles of natural justice.”

Another former CJI, R.M. Lodha, said much the same thing: “He (Verma) needs to be heard. Ordinarily, he should be heard. Principles of natural justice deserved to be followed.”

In other words, the Supreme Court’s failure to explicitly state that Verma should be given a hearing violated the principles of natural justice.

Similarly, a CJI-headed bench’s verdict on the Rafale deal has also raised eyebrows. While the government, understandably, has hailed the verdict as a “clean chit”, the detailed review petition filed by ArunShourie, Yashwant Sinha and Prashant Bhushan points out how the “the government has blatantly misled the Hon’ble Court and the Hon’ble Court has grossly erred in placing reliance on false averments in the note not even supported by an affidavit.” In layman’s language, it questions the touching faith the apex court placed in the assertions of the government in spite of evidence to the contrary.

The Supreme Court collegium’s decision to appoint two judges to the apex court after retracting an earlier selection of two other judges is the latest controversy to hit the judiciary.

The CJI, reportedly, is “very upset” over the “media leaks” on the collegium’s functioning. Last week, he also advised the advocate, Prashant Bhushan — who wanted the government to disclose the names shortlisted by the search committee for the post of Lokpal — not to “look at things from a negative point of view” and to “be positive” instead.

That is fine advice from a spiritual guru. But advocating such a course in today’s India can also be construed as unquestioning faith in a majoritarian government’s intents and actions. The apex court has baffled us on many counts in the last few months. But that someone who spoke in praise of noisy judges and independent journalists should now worry about adverse media reports and negative attitudes to the government is, perhaps, the most bewildering of them all…

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Growing menace of corruption

The Kashmir Monitor



By Tawfeeq Irshad Mir

“One who listens to truth is not less than one who utters the truth”

With glued memories of my infantile period, hardly I could retrieve the surroundings and the events happening around, Brought up in a very small village “Goripora” in Sopore town of Kashmir, a village with meticulous presence, conscious, a mixture of intellect and a think tank of its own, whenever I revert my memory lane through times, I find myself in the nap of my grandfather, an image of an old man enveloped in “chadar” yet young by mind, he was the then head of village, people of all ages enjoyed his presence, igniting the debate pertaining to different issues, being the head of the village, so mostly revenue matters were discussed and the consistent content of all debates used to be “corruption” the word that recurrently vibrated my neurons and propelled me as to what is this corruption all about, initial understanding was like this, “to get your work down, have a chicken to please” and sometimes “the person inflated the pocket to get the work down” in common Kashmiri language, you might have encountered the word most frequently “channel, like the person has channel,designated to corruption. As being in rural area, the incentives for corruption used to be” chicken “an apple box” sometimes red beans “probably due to lack of money as people used to exchange their daily needs rather than money. As I grew up, exposed myself to the environment, what I found was interesting, now an updated version of corruption :every now, people discussing the scourge of corruption, as like a curse, preferably in revenue department, to have an income certificate, an amount of 2 to 3 hundred rupees was a prerequisite, with the time I found people paying huge amounts to get their land acquisitions settled, even to get a driving licence, driving skill hardly mattered, as the time passed by, now the word “corruption” was a constant encrypted into the minds of people, a peculiar picture of engulfing in corruption was most obvious from electricity department, then it was not digitalized, the new house holder enjoyed the bless even without registration by simply paying a meagre amount to officials in the department. “Not a single institution is prone to corruption” but it’s deleterious effects on education and recruitment system “has perturb and monstrous consequences. As I observed during the years, it was evident during the board exams, every one among us might have witnessed the special privilege being offered to some students in the examination Hall, a corruption of intimate level, eventually with the enlightenment of newspapers, social media, the youth Began to lay their repercussions on corruption pertaining to selection process whether it be for further education or selection of job process, like the ‘x’ person got selected because the said person had paid a huge amount for it, it swept the general consensus of youth, dredging them to denial resorting to premature statements that “now this education is futile as you won’t get any things unless you don’t have enough money, there is no place for poor fellows, we can’t continue with this” and the consequence was such that many talented ones dredged in drug dependency, heralding their further education.


Here I am talking about corruption on the local level, attached to the ground where I am the self-observant of this scourge, many a times I have been a part of discussions locally regarding this remorse, but in an alienated elite.

Social networking sites are filled with tons of data regarding corruption, gallons of ink have been spent on news papers to reflect this horror, while everyone apparently and seemingly attacking the subsequent political discourse and the concerned administrative systems,

“I have a virtual opinion, I believe, “every human being has encoded traits, and has a natural tendency to express these traits, both positive and negative as like in all other animals, but the best thing about humans is to differentiate between right and wrong and the ability to direct their energies toward humanity, that’s why called humans, but one’s the person is exacerbated by materialistic influence, the person tends to express the negative trait to fulfil the Ill designed desires, and simply the person who endorses or resorts to such mischievous act of corruption, the person is engulfed my this wild trait “
Now what astonishes me the most,” while everyone seemingly denigrates this scourge, then who supports it, I mean everyone is raising in objection to it, then who constitutes to the corruption.

I would like to prove my content with objective analysis, suppose I am the person, and I am asked to give some amount to secure a place in any govt. department, despite irrelevant educational qualifications and out of any fearful selection procedure, now it’s all about me, would I agree or not, so surely the moment I am in such a position, I will surely opt for it, likewise I believe every single person on the planet not only in the valley, will opt the same, I jus made an analogy and it almost pertains to every aspect. So literally, I mean to say that corruption is from within, not a system is corrupted, in fact the people with this thinking make the system corrupt and that’s how it seems that the whole system is overwhelmed with corruption, it is engrained in the minds of people, “the humans have rbcs, wbcs, and platelets in blood, but I suspect we have one more” corruption cell “in our blood and we have genes encoded with it dominantly.

” We have to deter this menace from within, the moment we object to this greed, it needs to be abolished from within, sanitising the systems won’t yield any results, because it’s already ingrained in the minds of people, so we have to interpret and analyse and suppress this wild trait only then we will get rid of this wild menace infesting our spirituality, ethos”

(The writer is pursuing graduation in Nursing at G M C, Srinagar and can be reached at: [email protected])

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Why the JNU story won’t die

The Kashmir Monitor



By Rakesh Batabyal

Not too long ago in the history of the Republic — 1974 to be precise — a large body of students entered the lobby, and later the room of Vice-Chancellor G Parthasarathy, the founding head of Jawaharlal Nehru University, a man charged with the setting up of a world-class university, and announced that they were gheraoing him. They wanted the barriers of gender separating the girls’ and boys’ hostels to be done away with, as it smacked of a feudal society based on patriarchy. They were expressing the most progressive ideas agitating the young mind — the gendered barricades encompassing society. Parthasarathy, who had interacted with the most powerful people in the world, found this group of students, many of whom did not even speak English (the language of the diplomatic elite that he was familiar with), more powerful than all who had come before — they were students, yet their demands were not for their own interests, nor even for something euphemistically called national interest. They were protesting for something which in their minds they thought would make society better all-in-all. He did not ask for the police, did not chide them, neither was he demurred — he talked to them about social, bureaucratic and other miscellaneous issues that would not permit such a great idea to be immediately pursued in a traditional society; it would in fact be harmed through the vicious constrictions of traditional society. Its time would come, though, one fine day, and then the society would remember the pioneers — those JNU students. Such was the spirit embodied in the foundation of the university that is JNU. There are many other instances that reinforced these values and established the spirit of dissent and dialogue that became the signature of this great institution.

In the mid-1980s, a Dean of Students introduced a register for women students/ guests entering the men’s hostel, where the purpose of visit was to be recorded. Many uncharitable remarks made the administration understand its own lack of practical wisdom, and this rule was never strictly enforced.


Then, in the late 1980s, an ever-watchful body of students discovered that a senior official was drawing salary from two sources. In the pre-RTI age, they made efforts to get at the source. The Vice-Chancellor, a stickler for rules, had to disown the officer; at no point was a student either issued a show-cause notice or shown the door.

In the early 1990s, students wanted to strike against the administration and they were sitting on a hunger strike when the Vice-Chancellor himself joined them in the strike, saying this was his cause too. Professor Yoginder K Alagh, the Vice-Chancellor, was no mean scholar and knew that the students were not demanding something out of the world.

Thus, through such acts, the young were indicating the new and emerging mores, which led to the university not being ossified. Teachers had their individual political and intellectual predilections and students too had their own, but one saw the campus, like the nation, carry on with the variety and colour of these differences.
There were shouts and slogans to drown the other, but they were more a demonstration of intellectual prowess than threats to physically eliminate the other. When the State imposed Emergency in 1975, JNU students became part of street agitations. Their refusal to allow then prime minister Indira Gandhi into the campus is the stuff of legends.

The story of an institution is a story of shared memories and shared ideals. JNU, as it has grown in the last 50 years, is one such great story. Within this story lay millions of small lives and their careers as they have woven the narrative of this country in the last half century.

A university reflects the character of a nation: its moral self, its confidence and its resolve to face the world. When we sat at the table in our hostel mess, when we all talked about our larger vision and smaller plans — about fighting the capital and its sway, our resolve to finish off shades of Apartheid or the discriminating caste hierarchies — we were speaking of the society and for a future society. The shared memories of those talks, of the politics that gave us the language to express those visions and plans, are small stories in the big world.

As the University celebrates its 50th anniversary, it is these shared memories of the collective self that will keep the beauty of the institution intact. All that is beautiful needs to be cherished and the memories are those beautiful things that direct us towards a great future. It is unfortunate that those who do not cherish the memory and what JNU stands for, are at the helm of affairs today. But memories fortunately cannot be killed, only repressed in some circles.

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