Jamia event is govt’s ‘anti-democratic’ attack on higher education institutions: AIFRTE
December 19, 2019
The All-India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE), in a statement, has called the police entrance into the Jamia Millia Islamia campus as “unprovoked and unauthorized”, adding, the attack on students in the library reading room, in the hostels and the Masjid was brutal, adding, there was “sexual assault on women students in hostel rooms and toilets”.
Approved by its presidium, AIFRTE said, the “vice-chancellor has already asserted that she did “not allow police entry”, adding, “Students’ protest against Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA)/ National Register of Citizens (NRC) was peaceful.”
AIFRTE condemns the latest brutal attack by the Delhi Police, which is under the Central Government, against students of Jamia Milia Islamia (JMI) who have been peacefully protesting the passage and notification of the blatantly unconstitutional Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Delhi Police first claimed that `students’ had turned violent on the road outside the campus, and then that `outsiders’ had entered the campus and therefore they forced their way into the campus, fired teargas shells in the library and hostels, dragged women students out of hostel rooms and toilets. Students were brutally beaten.
At least three students are in the ICU of the nearby Holy Family hospital; reportedly others are in private nursing homes in the area. The panic stricken students were then made to exit the campus with their hands up in the air in a manner reminiscent of colonial practices during the British Raj. More than a hundred students were detained.
However, videos from the area show that it was by no means clear that it was even `outsider’ protestors, let alone students, who set fire to buses and vandalized vehicles on the road. The role of the police itself in instigating the violence and vandalism cannot be ruled out without a full and fair enquiry.
At the same time, videos of the violence and vandalism in the enclosed space of the library clearly show the brutal lathicharge and the firing of teargas shells on students preparing for their exams which were to have started today. Even the security at the university gates was beaten up when they opposed the police entry into the campus.
As news spread of the attack, hundreds of students and teachers from JMI, Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) gathered outside the Delhi Police Headquarters to demand action against the Delhi Police and to support the right of all citizens to peacefully protest against the unconstitutional CAA and the proposal to extend NRC across the country.
The detained students were finally released after 3 a.m. in the morning. The protests against the CAA and the NRC have been growing across campuses and among democratic sections all over the country. In the north-east, particularly in Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and Arunachal the issue of the threat to regional and indigenous culture and identity have dominated protests.
Across other states of India, the communal exclusion of only the Muslim community in CAA, and targeting the community through NRC, have aroused both anger and panic as CAA violates the Constitutional principle of equal rights and equality of treatment to all sections of the population.
In the national capital itself protests against CAA/NRC have been growing and thousands of people have been gathering at these totally peaceful protest marches and rallies. The anger against the CAA and NRC is rapidly fuelling a widespread people’s movement in which students and teachers of the universities, already mobilized against the Government’s anti-democratic attacks on higher education institutions, are an important component.
But the protests are far more widespread and are involving all sections of the population. This appears to have unnerved the Modi-Shah regime which has clearly tried now to stigmatize the movement as being violent and as being confined to the Muslim community and its institutions of higher education. Aligarh University was also attacked yesterday.
Police entered the campus and fired teargas shells and lathi-charged the protesting students. Similar incidents have occurred at Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), Hyderabad, and in Kerala. But protests have also broken out at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Madras, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS)-Mumbai, Bengaluru Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Lucknow and elsewhere.
The media reports of the Prime Minister’s statement at a Jharkhand political rally that the “clothes” or the “dress” of the protesters show who is behind these protests is shocking. This deliberately provocative statement is motivated by the most low-level, petty political reasons. It shows how the current regime wants to discredit a strong democratic protest against the anti-Constitutional CAA/NRC as being a communal Hindu-Muslim issue.
- AIFRTE is in complete solidarity with the students and teachers struggling against brutal police attacks on campuses across the country.
- The role of the police forces in instigating violence and vandalism must be investigated, exposed and the guilty punished.
- AIFRTE is staunchly opposed to CAA/NRC and demands its withdrawal as it violates the fundamental tenet of equality enshrined in the Constitution.
AIFRTE appeals to all democratic sections including the students and teachers of all educational institutions to stand firmly against CAA/NRC and continue their peaceful, democratic resistance until the unconstitutional and divisive CAA/NRC are revoked.
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