Kanhaiya Kumar, the JNU student leader who has emerged as face of rebellious students in modern India, perhaps tasted for the first time the real mood of student rebellion,when a group of students – members of the Bastar Solidarity Network – disrupted his programme at the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet, held at Rabindra Sarovar in Kolkata on Saturday.
The students from various colleges in the city questioned Kanhaiya’s sincerity in representing the cause of the dalits and oppressed in the country, asking him why he had agreed to participate in a programme sponsored by the Tatas when the company had a long history of working against the interests of the poor and the oppressed in the country.
About 30 members of the Network suddenly entered the venue where a discussion on Kanhaiya’s book: ‘Bihar to Tihar: My political journey’ was in progress. They raised the slogan : “Kashmir Mange Azadi” popularized by Kanhaiya himself.
Kanhaiya initially attempted to pacify the angry students saying he was ready to answer all their questions. But he left the venue in a huff without meeting them.
“Doesn’t he know that the Tatas grabbed farmers’ land in Singur? Tatas were involved in the firing on Adivasis in Kalinganagar. They funded the Salwa Judum, which is killing and evicting adivasis in Bastar. Why did Kanhaiya participate in such a programme? We are questioning his honesty,” said Sanada Dasgupta, member of the Bastar Solidarity Network.
“He did not even answer our questions. How can he talk of democracy?” asked one of the protestors. “How can Kanhaiya, who passionately speaks about azadi, attend an event organised by a corporate entity like the Tatas? He is participating, signing autographs. He too has become a corporate entity,” said another.