Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerjee Speaks Out on JNU Violence

I think any Indian who cares about the nation’s image in the world should worry. This has too many echoes of the years when Germany was moving towards the Nazi rule, Banerjee, an alumnus of the premier institution, told News18.com.

  • 6th Jan 2020

Voicing concerns over India’s image abroad a day after masked men attacked JNU students and teachers on campus, Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee has urged the government to establish “the truth of what happened”.

“I think any Indian who cares about the nation’s image in the world should worry. This has too many echoes of the years when Germany was moving towards the Nazi rule,” Banerjee, an alumnus of the premier institution, told News18.com.

Violence broke out at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in the national capital on Sunday night when masked men armed with sticks and rods attacked students and teachers and damaged property on the campus. At least 28 people, including JNU Students' Union president Aishe Ghosh, were injured as chaos reigned on the campus for nearly two hours.

“The government needs to actually establish the truth of what happened and not let it get drowned in the chorus of counter-accusations,” Banerjee said when asked for a comment on the JNU Registrar’s statement which blamed students protesting against hostel fee hike for the violence.

“I am really concerned about those who were injured. I wish everyone injured a speedy recovery,” added Banerjee, who had himself faced police action in JNU back in 1983 when he was a student of MA (Economics) at the university.

In earlier interviews with the media, Banerjee had detailed how he was jailed in Tihar for more than a week over protests against the expulsion of the then students’ union president. Banerjee had recalled that he, along with other protesters, had gheraoed the house of the Vice-Chancellor.

“It was the summer of ’83 and we, the students of JNU, had gheraoed the vice-chancellor in his house for the umpteenth time. The pretext was the expulsion of the president of the student union, the Kanhaiya Kumar of the day, for reasons that escape me now,” Banerjee had written in a piece for the Hindustan Times in February 2016, when the JNU sedition row was at its peak.

“[I was] and thrown into Tihar jail, charged not quite with sedition, but attempt to murder and the rest. The charges were eventually dropped — thank god — but not before we spent ten days or so in Tihar,” he wrote.

Banerjee, who is a noted professor of Economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics last year for efforts to alleviate global poverty along with fellow economists Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer.

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