JNU not to suffer setback due to Afzal Guru row: Romila Thapar

New Delhi: Noted Historian Romila Thapar believes JNU is unlikely to suffer a setback due to the row over an event against hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru as there is “intellectual support” for it. She also feels it is going to be difficult for any government to “control” the thinking process unless it turns into a totally “anti-democratic dictatorship”.

Thapar, who is Professor Emerita at JNU, said in an interview, “JNU is not likely to suffer a setback as there is much intellectual support for it in the country. There are other universities too that discuss a range of ideas as are discussed in the JNU.The existence of a varsity is intended for that –to discuss ideas of every kind.”

“It is going to be extremely difficult for any government to try and control this thinking unless it turns into a totally anti-democratic dictatorship. If it does that, then it will harm other aspects of governance as has been shown repeatedly wherever dictatorships have been established,” she added.

Thapar, who had declined to accept Padma Bhushan award twice in 1992 and 2005, said attacking universities is an attempt to try and control the thinking of people and the effort whenever made had not succeeded. “This has never succeeded wherever it has been tried. It may work for a short while since the administration and the police are under the control of government but invariably people break away. Exploring ideas is part of the process of being educated and is necessary for a modern society and economy.

“Not allowing universities to function freely will doubtless have an effect on production and the economy as well. Education is an integrated process. If one part of it is stopped then that will damage the rest of it,” she said. PTI