JNU row: Former prof Chaman Lal to return award to HRD

After returning his Sahitya Akademi award to protest alleged intolerance, retired JNU professor Chaman Lal has decided to give back an award to the HRD Ministry in the wake of the raging row at the varsity.

PTI| Updated: Feb 25, 2016, 20:24 PM IST

New Delhi: After returning his Sahitya Akademi award to protest alleged intolerance, retired JNU professor Chaman Lal has decided to give back an award to the HRD Ministry in the wake of the raging row at the varsity.

"I have decided to return the award containing a citation and Rs 50,000 cash, conferred on me by Central Hindi Directorate, MHRD, in the year 2003 by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for 'non-Hindi speaking area Hindi writer'.

"It is to protest the Home Minister and the HRD Minister's attack on JNU by arresting students union president Kanhaiya Kumar and terrorising the JNU faculty and students by dubbing them as anti-nationals through media," Lal said in a communication to JNU VC Jagadesh Kumar.

The professor had last year returned the Hindi translation award of Punjabi poet Paash's collection 'Samay O Bhai Samay', given to him by the Sahitya Akademi in 2002, in protest against alleged intolerance in the country.

Lal said the VC's moral authority will take a hit if he was not able to protect the faculty members, students and staff.

"As a VC, you are duty bound to protect the life and limb of all its members faculty, students and staff. If you cannot, then your moral authority will be greatly affected inside JNU even if you get full outside support from the MHRD, the Home Minister or Delhi Police. Moral authority has a greater force than 'danda' force," he said.

Lal also termed the VC's move to allow police to enter the campus as a "disaster", saying "there was no obligation of the university to allow Delhi Police to enter the campus, particularly when it had appointed its own committee to probe the matter".

The professor who came to JNU as a student in 1977, retired as Chairperson of varsity's Centre of Indian Languages in 2012. He was also JNU Teacher's Association (JNUTA) president in 2007.

Jawaharlal Nehru University is caught in a row over an event in the campus to commemorate the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, where "anti-national" slogans were allegedly raised. Kumar is in judicial custody in a sedition case in connection with the February 9 event.

Two other students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, were yesterday sent to three days' police remand by a city court after their midnight surrender and subsequent arrest in the case.

Various foreign scholars have been conveying to the VC their disappointment at the turn of events at the varsity.