15 October 2019
Bhubaneswar: Abhijit Banerjee, one of the recipients of this year's Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, has spent 10 days in Delhi's Tihar jail for 'gheraoing' the then vice-chancellor of the varsity. In May 1983, Banerjee and some 360 other students of JNU, including 50 women, spent 10 days in Tihar jail on charges including an attempt to murder the vice-chancellor.
'It was the summer of ’83 and we, the students of JNU, had gheraoed the vice-chancellor in his house for the umpteenth time. The pretext was the expulsion of the president of the student union, the Kanhaiya Kumar of the day, for reasons that escape me now,' Banerjee wrote in a piece written for Hindustan Times in February 2016, when JNU sedition row was at its peak.
He says that while they had still 'gheraoed' the VC, police sent by the then Congress government, stormed into the VC's house and arrested him along with hundreds of others. He was taken to Tihar Jail where he spent some 10 days and was beaten up.
'[I was] and thrown into Tihar jail, charged not quite with sedition, but attempt to murder and the rest. The charges were eventually dropped — thank god — but not before we spent ten days or so in Tihar.' he writes.
He goes on to say that most of the faculty, supported these moves because —according to them— the students' body was considered to be “lumpenised” as students from rural areas joining the university because of the extra credits that were given to them during admission process.
Banerjee, who along with Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer won this prestigious award for the contribution made towards fighting global poverty, wrote in the piece published over three years ago about how he was 'beaten' by police.
Banerjee finished his education in 1983. He completed his MA in Economics from the Central University. The gherao Banerjee was arrested for was led by Students for Democratic Socialism and the Free Thinkers — a group that current finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman was part of. Sitharaman completed her M. Phil in International Studies in 1984.