People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 34

August 31 , 2008


Student Protest Forces Boucher To Cancel Visit To JNU

P K Anand

THE massive protest by students of JNU forced Richard A Boucher, the US assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, to cancel a visit to JNU on August 27, 2008. He was scheduled to address a lecture in the School of Life Sciences Auditorium (SLS), organised by the Centre for Canadian, US and Latin American Studies in the School of International Studies. The whole visit was shrouded in secrecy with no wide publicity given to it. This was done because the department and the JNU administration were well aware of the fact that Richard Boucher, who represents the neo-conservative administration in the United States led by president George Bush, will not be welcome to JNU.

In the backdrop of the strategic embrace of US imperialism by the Indian policy establishment through the India-US civilian nuclear deal, the proposed visit of Richard Boucher was not an innocuous move. Providing a platform to Boucher in JNU by the university administration was part of a larger design to please their bosses in the UPA government and sell the strategic relations with the US to the students of JNU.

The progressive student movement of JNU, of which the SFI is an integral part, has a glorious legacy of uniting the students against imperialism. Be it the invasion of Iraq in 2003 or the visit of George Bush to India in 2006, the students of JNU had come out in large numbers in the streets of Delhi, to make their voices heard against the imperialist policies of US. In keeping with this legacy, SFI was the first organisation in the university to make public the programme of Boucher’s visit, which had deliberately been kept secret. To forge a wider unity on the issue SFI also urged the JNUSU leadership to convene an emergency council meeting to take the student community into confidence in opposing Boucher’s visit. Following a decision in the JNUSU council meeting, the JNUSU organised a public meeting and a massive protest march, on the night of August 26, which saw a huge mobilisation of the students shouting slogans: ‘Boucher Go Back’, ‘Say No to Nuke Deal’ and ‘No Surrender of our Sovereignty to USA’. Other student organisations like the AISA, AISF and DSU also participated in the protest march enthusiastically. Organisations like NSUI, ABVP and YFE have once again thoroughly exposed themselves as the agents of US imperialism, through their efforts to sabotage the protests against Boucher’s visit.

On August 27, students came out in large numbers to register their protest in front of the SLS building (the venue of the programme). Gauging the mood of the students, the university administration and the US embassy had to cancel the programme. Once it was clear that the programme has been cancelled, the students celebrated their victory by bringing out a procession in the academic complex. This protest by JNU students has sent out a clear message to the US administration as well as the UPA government as to where the student community stands vis-ŕ-vis India-US strategic alliance. The massive character and success of the protests leading to the cancellation of Boucher’s visit is yet another significant milestone in the JNU student movement and reasserts its glorious anti-imperialist legacy.