Recently an article titled “‘Enforced Nationalism’ Debate Rears Head Again, This Time at University in J&K” was published in the far-left propaganda portal The Wire. The article, published on 28 February 2021, argued that patriotism is being forced on the students of the Islamic University of Science and Technology as they are asked to choose between compulsorily standing up during the rendition of the national anthem or missing the convocation ceremony and sitting at home.
Though the University was established in 2005, it is going to have its first convocation ceremony in 2021. During the preparations of this ceremony, students who have been invited to the dress rehearsals have reportedly alleged that the university officials had asked them to stand up for the national anthem or stay at home and their medals will be sent there.
The Wire apparently spoke to some of the students of the university who confirmed that the university officials had asked them to respect the national anthem by standing up for it or refrain from attending the ceremony.
“In front of all the students, they told us in strict words, ‘Don’t create problems for us. If you don’t want to stand up for the national anthem, sit at home, we will send your gold medal to your home’,” The Wire quoted a student as saying.
The Wire further added that several students confided to it that they were not comfortable with the University’s “diktat”, stating it should be up to them to stand up for the national anthem or not.
Another student quoted by The Wire slammed nationalism and called the Indian government ‘repressive’. However, the same student then goes on to cite Article 51(a) of the Indian Constitution to allege that the fundamental duties do not mandate citizens to stand up for the national anthem. The student further adds that his conscience does not allow him to stand up for the national anthem.
“I don’t believe in nationalism and when a state is repressive, I won’t respect it. Even if we go by the constitution, Article 51(a) [fundamental duties] does not direct that citizens should stand up for the national anthem. It says that it is every citizen’s duty to ‘abide by the constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the national flag and the national anthem’,” The Wire quoted the student as saying.
In a bid to defend the students opposing standing up to the national anthem, The Wire article then cites threats emanating from separatists and terrorists as reasons for students to not engage in nationalist activities on campus. It alleged that those who agreed to take part in nationalistic activities and political movements are seen as supporting the Central government and are branded as ‘traitors’ by separatists and militants.
The article further states that people have faced bullying and boycotts for acquiescing to government demands and that overt support for national activities have even resulted in deaths. It mentioned students in Kashmir are bullied by the separatists and Islamists for following the Indian government’s directives. It goes on to claim students in Kashmir are caught between a rock and a hard place as not standing up to the national anthem could invite repercussions from the government and standing up for it would lead to their ostracisation by civil society or possibly even death.
Towards the end, the article quotes University registrar Naseer Iqbal, who unequivocally denies coercing students to stand up for the national anthem. Iqbal says he has only asked the students of the University to maintain protocol and decorum and denies telling them that if they do not plan to stand for the anthem, they should not bother to attend the convocation. Iqbal explains that playing the national anthem was a part of the protocol of the University and it would not look nice if medalists are seen defying the standard protocols.
The Wire tries to promote separatism with its article to argue against standing up to national anthem
In essence, The Wire, in its article, has toed the separatists and terrorists’ line in blaming the university for “enforcing” nationalism on students by simply asking them to comply with the university protocols, which include standing up for the national anthem, among other activities. Notwithstanding the denial from the university registrar, The Wire continued with its narrative that students are being coerced to stand up during the national anthem, giving a free pass to the separatists responsible for targeting and bullying those who respect the decorum and national anthem.
Additionally, The Wire also allowed its platform to promote separatist ideology. One of the students with whom The Wire got in touch said that the Indian government is a repressive regime and therefore he doesn’t believe in nationalism. Though love for the nation is independent of the government at the centre, nonetheless, such thoughts reveal that the student in question was deeply influenced by separatist ideology. By providing its platform to such voices and legitimising their concerns, The Wire has only undermined the country’s fight against the violent and divisive ideologies of separatism and Islamic terrorism.
The Wire also argued that students in Jammu and Kashmir are standing on very thin ice, given that they might be punished by the state for not standing up to the national anthem and punished nevertheless by the militants and separatists for doing so. However, instead of highlighting how the separatists, terrorists and the so-called civil society in Kashmir are bullying, intimidating and threatening to ostracise students who are willing to participate in activities that symbolise India’s sovereignty, The Wire appears to act as an outpost for the separatists and terrorists, arguing for the university to relax its protocols concerning the national anthem to placate the separatist sentiments.
In essence, The Wire here is waiting the Indian government for “enforcing nationalism”, but it would not criticise the separatist elements that threat the lives of students if they follow University protocols.
In fact, ‘enforced nationalism’ is for those who are corrupted with a separatist mentality. Those who foster the dream of breaking away from India will obviously be repulsed by the fact that they are expected to stand up to the national anthem of India, the nation that gives them the very constitutional rights which they have just cited to avoid following basic institutional protocols.