Reports : JNU Students Force Boucher to Go Back

In keeping with their anti-imperialist traditions, students of JNU successfully forced US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Richard Boucher to cancel a visit to JNU.

The JNU student movement, especially with AISA as its revolutionary vanguard, has consistently spoken truth to power – protesting in 1996 against L K Advani’s proposed visit ostensibly to release a Spanish book and against George Bush’s visit to India in 2006. In 2006, when Manmohan Singh visited JNU, AISA had led students to show black flags to him, in spite of opposition by the JNU Administration, the then SFI-led JNUSU, and violent attacks by the NSUI and ABVP.

Boucher was scheduled to address a lecture at JNU in the auditorium of School of Life Sciences, organised by the Centre for Canadian, US and Latin American Studies from the School of International Studies on August 27, 2008. Apprehending protests by the students, the JNU Administration which was eager to host Boucher to display its loyalty to India’s pro-imperialist ruling class, tried to keep the plans for his visit under wraps. But they were thwarted by the students. As they did earlier on the Delhi roads when George Bush visited India in 2006, this time too the students took out a massive protest march on August 26 to make Boucher’s visit to campus public. At a time when mainstream political parties, industrialists, ‘strategic’ analysts and its agents in media were singing paeans to the Indo-US Nuclear Deal, and even influential shapers of diplomatic policy were arguing for a ‘pragmatic’ Indo-US partnership, the students and various left organisations at JNU under the leadership of JNU Students’ Union chalked out a planned strategy to oppose Boucher’s visit to campus, where he was to deliver a sermonising lecture on the ‘benefits’ of this deal.

The campus looked all set for a proper showdown the next day with AISA and other students organisations busy in mobilising amongst students at hostels and classrooms as well as preparing placards and posters. The NSUI, ABVP, and also the anti-reservation Youth for Equality, true to their pro-imperialist and anti-people character, tried to demobilise the students from joining the protest. They campaigned for allowing Boucher to speak in the name of democratic space and ‘freedom’ of speech and expression: quite a hypocritical position, since their own ideologies and parent parties (Congress, BJP, and in YFE’s case its virulently casteist ideology) have no qualms about repressing and silencing dissent. AISA launched a poster campaign to take the message across that Boucher was no mere individual claiming the right to speak at a University. On the contrary he is the official agent of an exploitative imperialist power; and in that capacity he has done untold damage to India and our neighbours in the subcontinent including Pakistan.

On the day of Boucher’s proposed lecture, in a strong show of strength under the leadership of the AISA-led JNU Students Union, all the progressive, left forces in the campus including organisations like AISA, SFI, AISF, DSU, PSU gathered at the venue in a massive show of protest, saying ‘Boucher Go Back’. Sloganeering continued for more than an hour against U.S. and its imperialist policies, exposing its current ‘War on Terror’ with its real purpose of capturing oil-rich geographies of the world, its acts of demonising Islam, blatant violation of the rights of the people and attacks on country after country in the name of (and in mockery of) ‘freedom, liberty and democracy’. As a result the JNU Administration cancelled the visit to the campus, and instead rescheduled the lecture to take place at the ‘secluded and safe’ environs of U.S. embassy, where a small group of students, assembled hurriedly from the host centre at JNU, were taken to the U.S. embassy by the authorities of the embassy and JNU administration.

The Students’ Union held a victory march later. A placard summarised the whole event: “We will not allow our campus to be used for legitimising imperialist designs - JNUSU”.

– Alankar

Liberation Archive