Generally, a university is seen as a place for different ideas, where students could agree or disagree.
It is not a matter of free speech. Their programme was sanctioned by the administration. About 15 minutes prior to its beginning, the administration realised that in the name of a cultural evening they were going to do something different. So they cancelled it. Despite that, they went ahead. General freedom is there to debate. We also said in Rohith Vemula's case, should there be capital punishment or not, you should keep a seminar or a talk, make it an academic activity. Why do you have to make it into an issue the way they did? After the highest body of the country hanged him [Afzal Guru], called him a terrorist, refused his mercy petition, you are challenging all that? You don't trust the system. You call yourselves the Democratic Students Union, where is your democracy? If this is what they call democracy, then God save them.
What is your idea of nationalism?
There is no singular definition. There are all kinds of people here and we respect them all. There are atheists and believers who live together. There are different kinds of gods and we don't tell people that if you believe in xyz god, you would attain moksha. There are people who worship the elements; they, too, live here. The kind of tolerance that India has, no other country does. Despite that, some sections have said that we are intolerant, which is incorrect. But to live here and talk against the country isn't nationalism.
What about the violence that took place at the Patiala House Court?
It was wrong. No one supports violence. Whoever is to be blamed must be punished accordingly and we don't support them. People should express their nationalism the way they wish to. 'Bharat tere tukde honge [India would be divided]', 'Afzal hum sharminda hain, tere kaatil zinda hain [We are ashamed Afzal that your killers are still alive]' isn't nationalism. How can you call them desh bhakts [patriots]?
Defending nationalism using violence would be wrong then?
Violence is wrong any which way.
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy called the JNU a snake pit.
It is a prestigious institute. We should keep it that way. There can be problems. We need to find remedies for that. If there is gangrene on the foot, you don't cut it off immediately, you treat it. No one wants to sully the JNU. No one wants to close it down, so the rumours are wrong. There is no doubt about the contributions it has made. But such rumblings need to be corrected.