We the undersigned are deeply concerned by the persistent hounding of Nivedita Menon, Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University’s School of International Studies. She has just been removed as chairperson of her Centre, three months prior to the official end of her term. Most surprisingly, this has been done without informing her of any reason for this decision or even giving her the opportunity to explain her position, as is the convention. This shameful victimization of Professor Menon appears to have been triggered by her dissent on the procedural lapses in the constitution of selection committees to appoint new faculty, something she was morally and duty bound to do so. In contravention of JNU’s statutes and to influence the selection process, the Vice Chancellor has been adding committee members from outside the list of academic experts provided by the various Schools and Centres. This is what Professor Menon objected to. Her sudden removal as Chair of her Centre is an attack on the intellectual and moral freedom to dissent on ideas, procedures, and values.
The University Administration has also constituted a committee to look into the “alleged” role played by Professor Menon in instigating students at an Academic Council meeting held in December 2016. These charges are blatantly false and the only reason she is being persistently hounded is to warn other teachers of what could happen to them if they do not comply. The administration has decided to let the constant threat of disciplinary action become their chosen mode to silence the teaching community and prevent them from asking questions about the gross violation of norms and procedures being followed by the University.
Instead of recognizing Professor Menon for her academic scholarship, her international reputation and her commitment to pedagogy, the JNU Administration has let loose a pattern of vindictiveness to create a poisonous and terrifying environment where our basic rights are being systematically taken away. The repeated and aggressive assault on Professor Menon’s right to speak, question and have opinions is now taking a sinister turn. In light of all the incidents this country has witnessed in the recent past, we have to collectively demand that the University must immediately cease the constant targeting of Professor Menon who has been one of the most committed, popular and dedicated teachers on campus.
We appeal to the Jawaharlal Nehru University Authorities to withdraw the specious charges against Professor Menon and stop this cycle of repeated attacks on her democratic rights. Professor Menon should be reinstated immediately as chairperson of her Centre and allowed to perform her duties until the end of her term in December. We also appeal to the University to withdraw the baseless enquiry set up against her.