Over 1,500 students peacefully in city, in support of their brethren at Jamia Milia, AMU

Mumbai: Over 1,500 students gathered at the Kalina campus of Mumbai University (MU) on Monday, to protest the violence unleashed by Delhi Police on students of the Jamia Milia Islamia University (JMIU), Delhi and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Uttar Pradesh. Members of over 14 student organisations participated in a peaceful protest to oppose the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) passed by both Houses of Parliament and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC).

With slogans and placards proclaiming, ‘Do not use force against students’, ‘Revoke CAA’ and ‘No to NRC’, students demanded a judicial probe in the acts of vandalism and punitive action against police personnel. Kavita Ware, central committee member of the Students' Federation of India (SFI), said, “As students, we have the right to protest. The police has no right to brutalise students who are peacefully protesting within the university campus. Some students who were not even protesting but were just present in the JMIU library were also beaten. Why is the government using force to silent our voices?”

This protest was staged following the police brutality on Sunday when they entered JMIU and attacked the students. Sachin Bansode, leader of the Chhatra Bharati Sanghatana, an independent student organisation, said, “The BJP-led government is trying to divide citizens on the basis of religion, as the CAA and NRC defy secularism. Why is the government afraid of students who are trying to voice their opinion? We want that students arrested by the Delhi Police should be released immediately. If students want to express their views against the government, they should not be lathi-charged.”

Bansode demanded action against Delhi Police for their high-handed behaviour with the students. "In news and social media, we saw how Delhi Police behaved with students and women too. We want action against the Delhi Police," he said.

"Our protests went on for two hours and members of 18 different student wings took part in it," he said.

Demanding that Parliament scrap the CAA, Suvarna Salve, leader of the Samata Kala Manch, said, “CAA proposes to grant citizenship to everyone, except Muslims who have migrated to India from neighbouring countries. This Act goes against the basic idea of India as an inclusive, secular and democratic nation.”

Over 100 students of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay have been boycotting classes and protesting on the streets in solidarity with counterparts in JMIU and AMU since Sunday.

TISS students at the Deonar campus shouted slogans against 'Godi Media', crying, "We are not second-class citizens" and "Student Solidarity is greater than Modi-Shah solidarity.” One of their placards proclaimed, "The nation is dying while you are sleeping." The students also shouted slogans against what they called "Godi Media".

They shouted slogans condemning "police brutality and violence" against the JMI and AMU students. "The time has come to speak up guys," shouted a student.

Fahad Ahmed, a second year student of PhD at the TISS, said the Delhi Police should learn a lesson from their Mumbai counterparts on handling protesters.

"We assembled here in large numbers but none of the officers even touched any student. We are here against the government and brutality of Delhi Police," he said.

"We are here since morning and protesting peacefully. We want Delhi Police officers to be held responsible for the Jamia incident," he said.

Students claim they will continue their protest at 2pm on December 19, at Ambassador Hotel and 3pm at Girgaum Chowpatty, near the Tilak statue. Vikrant Dubey, a student leader said, “Five students have been killed in Assam and internet has been suspended in Assam and West Bengal and other parts. The government does not want us to show their acts of violence but we will continue to raise our voices because we are students and do not belong to any political party.”

Several parts of the country, including the North-east and West Bengal, have erupted in protest against the CAA, which seeks to give citizenship to religiously persecuted non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

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Free Press Journal