Not just in Jamia and JNU, students across India are protesting against citizenship law

They have largely been ignored by the media, though.

BySamyak Jain
Not just in Jamia and JNU, students across India are protesting against citizenship law
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Soon after the Citizenship Amendment Act was passed in December 2019, protests against it broke out across the country. In many places, the state responded, killing at least 27 people, arresting 1,113, and detaining 5,558.

As many as 27 student organisations joined in the protests across India, but only a handful were covered by the mainstream media, which has focused on Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jamia Millia Islamia University, Aligarh Muslim University.

Here’s a look at some of the other colleges that have been protesting against the citizenship law and the National Register of Citizens.

Jyoti Nivas College, Bangalore

On January 9, students of Jyoti Nivas College organised a silent protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act, a day after they were allegedly heckled by a group of BJP workers for protesting against a pro-citizenship law banner displayed on their college wall without permission.

“They thought they could put up the banner in a girls’ college and we would relent easily and sign the banner. Many of us stand against the citizenship law,” a student of the college told Newslaundry. “They are aware that students across universities have been fighting and raising their voice against the current government. Our college took a neutral stand on the CAA, which is an act of privilege in itself, but these men took advantage of that.”

Also read: Bengaluru students protest pro-CAA banner by BJP workers, are told to ‘go to Pakistan’

Pondicherry University

Pondicherry University has witnessed a series of protests over the past month. They started on December 15, when the students’ union held a protest march and called for a boycott of classes. The march was attended by hundreds of students, including leaders of all student groups except the Sangh Parivar affiliate ABVP.

On December 19, the students formed a human chain to mark their protest and read out the preamble of the Indian constitution.

Two days later, the students' union called for a boycott of the university's annual convocation.

On December 23, when the convocation was to take place, several students, including gold medalists, boycotted the event that was presided over by President Ram Nath Kovind. Rabhia, a student who was supposed to be awarded a gold medal, was not allowed to enter the premises on the suspicion that she might boycott the ceremony.

Osmania University, Hyderabad

On December 23, students from Osmania University, Hyderabad Central University, the English and Foreign Languages University, MANU University, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, PS Telugu University, and NALSAR held a demonstration against the citizenship law at the Osmania Arts College.

The same day, the ABVP held a rally in support of the law at Osmania University.

Talha Faiyazuddin, a student at Osmania Medical College and state chief of the Students Islamic Organisation of India, addressed the crowd, calling the law “a slap on the secular and democratic ethos of the Constitution”. He criticised attempts to communalise the issue and make it a conflict between Hindus and Muslims. He also termed the NRC exercise as an “assault on the dignity of every Indian citizen”.

Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama, Lucknow

On December 15, 2019, students of Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama in Lucknow marched on their campus. The students shouted slogans in support of students of Jamia Millia Islamia who had been brutalised by the Delhi police for protesting earlier.

The police closed the gates of the campus and tried to stop the march. They alleged that “some students of Nadwatul Ulama and others blocked the road and when asked to clear the road, they became violent”.

The college was later closed by the administration for “security purposes” until January 5.

Nadeemuddin, a student doing a course in Aalamiyat at Nadwa, told the Indian Express the students wanted to hold a peaceful march around the campus. “Our protest was non-violent. We were not allowed to leave the campus," he said. "It was the police who resorted to lathicharge on unarmed students. We were protesting against police atrocities in Jamia and AMU. We did not block any road. We did not indulge in violence.”

Jadavpur University, Presidency University, Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, Kolkata

On December 16, students of Jadavpur University and Presidency University organised separate rallies against the police brutality in Jamia Millia Islamia. They carried placards against the Citizenship Amendment Act and in support of the students of Jamia and JNU.

Some students from Jadavpur University and the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute organised a sit-in protest as well, demanding action against the police personnel who had entered Jamia without seeking permission from the university's administration.

On December 23, students at Presidency University were accompanied by their dean as they protested against the citizenship law.

Gujarat Vidyapith, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad

On December 16, a group of students gathered outside IIM Ahmedabad to protest against the law and express solidarity with students of Jamia Millia Islamia, Aligarh Muslim University and Guwahati University, among others. Soon after the protest began, 53 people — including professors, students and civil rights activists — were detained by the Ahmedabad police.

On January 13, 2020, students of Gujarat Vidyapith held a protest where they flew kites carrying anti-CAA and anti-NRC messages.

Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai

On January 9, over 150 researchers from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, donned black ribbons as a mark of protest against the violence inflicted on students across India.

Additionally, over 750 Indian scientists and scholars released a note of protest against the then draft Citizenship Amendment Bill on December 9. Its signatories included Sandip Trivedi of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai; Rajesh Gopakumar of the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences, Bengaluru; and Atish Dabholkar of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Italy.

Film and Television Institute of India, Pune

On January 5, students at the FTII staged a protest against the violence at JNU. They carried mashaals while shouting slogans.

Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur

On December 17, about 300 students and a few faculty members of IIT Kanpur participated in a peaceful march to show solidarity with students of central universities across India “in light of the extreme and continued brutality against students”.

During this protest, Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poem Hum Dekhenge was sung by a group of students. IIT Kanpur's administration subsequently set up a committee to investigate whether the poem was “anti-national”. Hum Dekhenge has now become the war cry of protests across the country.

Indian Institute of Technology, Madras

On December 16, students of IIT Madras organised a march inside their campus in solidarity with students of Jamia Millia Islamia University and Aligarh Muslim University. The students also called for the centre to revoke the Citizenship Amendment Act and the contentious NRC.

A German student studying in the physics department, Jakob Lindenthal, was part of the march. The Foreign Regional Registration Office asked Lindenthal to leave India after pictures of him participating in the anti-CAA protest became viral on soial media.

Azhar Moideen, a student of IIT Madras, told Mint that the institute did not allow the spirit of activism and dissent to flourish on the campus. “Even during the Emergency, IITs didn’t participate much," he said. “But things are slowly changing. With reservation, we are seeing students from different social and economic classes coming together, and more of us are asking questions."

A week later, over 100 students from various colleges in Chennai attempted to march from Marina Beach to the University of Madras campus. Midway, they were stopped by the police. This led to city residents coming out in support of the students at Valluvar Kottam in a series of protests joined by over 2,000 people. The protests continued at Valluvar Kottam till last week.

Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay

Every evening since January 6, students of IIT Bombay, along with some faculty and staff members, have held protests and marches in and around the campus. The gatherings have been punctuated by discussions and lectures on, among other things, the drawbacks of the CAA and NRC.

A press note issued by one of these professors, said, “Many of us who teach at IIT Bombay have felt compelled to reassert the rights of intellectual engagement and freedom of expression, the Constitution of India grants us, including the right to debate, dissent, and protest, democratically and peacefully, as citizens, within academic campuses as well as outside. The sit-in sessions that the campus community participating in for 10 consecutive days have drawn students, staff, members of the faculty and other residents who are concerned with the present state of the polity. We have together debated, dissented, sang, danced and enacted democracy. These have not been disruptive or disrupted.”

Starting January 16, a 10-day lecture series on the preamble of the constitution is planned to be organised as a continuation of the protest.

Jesus and Mary College, Delhi

Even though Jesus and Mary College is a part of Delhi University, media attention hasn’t gone beyond the North Campus of the university.

The girls of the college have been regularly protesting against the CAA. They have also been organising a silent protest outside their college everyday since January 8.

The decision to hold the protest outside the college premises came after the principal restricted the students from holding protest inside a rather "apolitical" institute.

Notably, JMC is not represented in the Delhi University Students Union, which is a key reason for the college's "apolitical" character.

Tezpur University, Dibrugarh University, IIT Guwahati and other student protests in North East

In Tezpur University, around 700 people came out to extend their solidarity with students of Cotton University who had organised one of the first protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill starting December 7. The students met regularly to discuss the bill and how it would affect Assam. Their exams were postponed and the students continued to protest throughout the night, only to appear for their exams in the morning.

“During exams, we would sign our names in our respective languages, not English, to emphasise our belonging to our motherland. We are Assamese first, and then Indian. Our language is Assamese. Many would sign in languages they are comfortable in, be it Bengali, Hindi. We wore black and adorned our traditional Gamusa to extend our solidarity with the entire community that was in mourning. The state had killed five people who were peacefully protesting,” a student of the university told Newslaundry on the condition of anonymity.

Students from different institutions also organised a door-to-door campaign against the law in remote villages of Assam.

Students of Dibrugarh University have also been constantly protesting against the Act in and around their campus. A large faction of the protestors belongs to the local unit of the All Assam Student Union.

Kalyan Sengupta, a student of the university and a member of AASU, told Newslaundry that students in the North East aren’t protesting for the same reasons as those elsewhere in the country. “We are fighting for our own protection, to save our indigenous tribes. While the mainland is protesting to include Muslims, we are protesting to prohibit anyone from foreign lands to settle on our land, irrespective of religion. We want to save our own people first.”

The students have also resolved to protesting spontaneously on seeing any leader of the BJP or the AGP. “The moment we see a BJP or AGP leader we start waving a black cloth or black bag if we don’t have a flag. We will do whatever it takes to make these goons run away from our pristine land,” another student told Newslaundry on the condition of anonymity.

More than 100 students from leading educational institutions of Guwahati — Cotton University, B Borooah College, and Handique Girls’ College — were detained in December for protesting against the new law.

About 500 students, along with some faculty members and families of the staff, marched from IIT Guwahati on December 12, shouting anti-CAA slogans. They included both local students and students from outside the North East. Starting January 16, a 10-day lecture series on the preamble of the constitution is being held.

In January, students from Guwahati University and Cotton University organised protests to extend solidarity with students of JNU after the armed goons unleashed violence on the campus.The students wore black bands and gamosas with anti-CAA messages.

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