Students’ Protests and its Impact

Published : Feb 05, 2020 12:16 pm | By: M D Sridharan

While the students from various institutions across the country joined the protests expressing their solidarity, it is indeed sad to see the institutes of eminence being turning into place for violence.

Recently, several major universities in the country have been rocked by students’ protests. There were wide spread demonstrations, sloganeering, anti government abuses and even the properties were damaged. In some cases and faculty were held hostage by the protesting students and the fellow students who wanted to pursue the studies were threatened and admission process for the new semester were stalled.

Thousands of students across India have taken to the streets against CAA. The pan-India student protests have indeed created an impact. Such widespread support from students is welcome.  Perhaps for the first time in the recent times that India witnessed such a massive participation of youth. Even women students jumped in to the fray.

Surely, these students’ protests reflect the growing dissent voices which is accepted in a democracy. But, ironically, the spate of violence across the campuses by the students has indeed turned the institutions of repute meant for education in to havens of political hatred.  The rise in students’ agitation and the way it spiralled over to campuses across the country raises a serious for concern both for the government as well as the administration. Also, by and large, majority of Indians feel that peace has to be restored in the campuses and the students must return to classes.

How it flared up?

A protest by the students of Jamia Millia Islamia University (JMI) against the government's Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in New Delhi, on December 15th, 2019, has snowballed in to a major student’s agitation across the country.    As the protests turned violent, the police lobbed tear gas shells and lathi-charged people to clear the area. The police also entered the university campus to control the situation.

As the news of the police storming in to New Delhi’s JMI reached the other parts of the country, the students of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in western Uttar Pradesh, who were already protesting against the CAA, raised slogans against the police action on the students of JMI. As tension prevailed in the area as the police sealed all gates to the campus and also used batons and tear gas to control the situation. In the melee several protesting students were injured.  Soon, students across the country indulged in protests in solidarity with the students of JMI and AMU   against the police “brutality”. The incident sparked outrage and galvanised students across India to hit the streets. Soon, students from various universities as well as premier institutes in major cities in the country started protesting.

The protests took an ugly turn January, 5, with goons going on a rampage at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in the nation’s capital. On the evening of Jan 5th, masked men carrying lethal weapons stormed in to the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus and attacked students, teachers and security staff.

The gang barged in to the server room and severed fibre optic cables, damaged properties and attacked students. In the melee several students and some teachers were also been allegedly assaulted. It is reported that the miscreants have fled after vandalising the campus.

Ever since Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced CAA , violence has been brewing in the historic JNU campus under the garb of anti CAA protests.  JUN has been witnessing violence between ABVP and Left students on the varsity campus for some weeks now.

After the masked men went on the rampage in JNU hostels, nationwide protests erupted in support of students.  In solidarity, with the JNU students, the students of the Jadevpur University (JU) in West Bengal, staged protests.  The situation went out of hand as the clashes erupted between the students of JU and the ABVP students. ABVP claims that the students of JU set fire to the BJP flag and it outraged them. As a result there was absolute mayhem and the police resorted to lathi-charge. In the melee, at least dozens of students were badly hurt and they filed a complaint at the nearby police station where they said that they were bashed up mercilessly.  

While the opposition parties accuse the police of brutality, the police released videos of students’ rampage and how the police personnel were attacked by the students seriously injuring them.

Who is instigating the violence?

JIM, JNU & JU - as university after university in the country witness students protests, it raises a pertinent question:  Are the varsities under siege by the students or the students being used as pawns by the political parties? In the recent times the universities across the country, which have once majestically stood as centres of education and research have been now turned in to centres for violence.

Taking a closer look at the intensity of the violence unleashed across the country, it is clear that the war is not against CAA or other policies of the centre. It is because that the vested interest politicians  ensures  that normal life is disturbed and instigate the students  accordingly, so that India burns and stand divided. Simply put, universities have been used by the political parties to further its political agenda. 

In the recent past, a premier university like the JNU has been in news for all the wrong reasons. The trend has been set by the Left long back. In 2016 when the students organised an event on the campus against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru that attracted lot of media glare with the then JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar being arrested.  The incident also set the tone for the non-Left political parties, including the BJP and the Congress, to actively get involved in the affairs of the university's students. What was until then remained pre-dominantly a Left based student’s union gave way for heavy political tone from other parties. 

The opposition parties fuelled the students’ agitation by lending absolute support. They allege that the police entered the university by force without any permission and beat up staff members and students and forced them to leave the campus. They claim that  the Delhi Police reportedly broke into the campus, attacked students and vandalised the premises, and allegedly fired bullets and tear gas, injuring several students and the  students  were brutalised by the atrocities of the Delhi police personnel,

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee described the police attack on the protesting students as “A fascist surgical strike”.  AIMIM president Assaduddin Owaisi expressed solidarity with students termed the police attack on the students as “cruel attack” that was meant to “punish” the students as they “dared to stand up”. He also warned the government and said, “It is not good for the country as this poison will soon engulf the country and the government is responsible”. 

CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury condemned the police action on protesting students and called the police action as “Modi’s emergency”. "This is Modi's emergency. The number of police personnel present at the spot of the protest is higher than what we saw during an emergency. This is not the right way to deal with democratic protests. The Modi government is trying to provoke the students." Sitaram Yechury said.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi said that the Congress will stand in solidarity with the protesting students and blamed the government for using brute force to suppress dissent".

While the leaders jumped in to express their solidarity with the students, none condemned the way they protested. Look at the way the protesting students went about rampaging the campuses and threaten the fellow students and the teachers as well. They also disrupted the admission registration process and beat up the fellow students.  Not only the properties damaged, even professors were held hostages for more than 10 hours.

With the kind of rampage unleashed by the students across the universities, it is clear there exists a complete backing of political parties. It has also exposed the real intent our politicians as their interests are diametrically opposite to the national interest.

While Congress is losing its relevance in states across the country, the Left is facing a severe electoral extinction, both the parties are looking at the anti CAA protest as a big opportunity to counter the ruling BJP. The aim of our politicians is only to win elections and for that they will go to any extent. Today they are conveniently using the combined strengths of the students and youth to polarise society and spread hatred.

Anti Modi Campaign and Banners

Students across the campuses raised angry voices against the centre. Anti-Modi and anti government banners were promptly displayed by the protesting students. They displayed ”Free Kashmir” banners and shouted “Azadi” posters. The students even raised slogans hailing Jinnah. Congress veteran and former Assam Chief Minister,   Ashok Ghlot, described Modi as the “Reincarnation of Hindu Jinnah”.  One wonders what the issues in Kashmir has to do with students problems.

It is a clear sign that the protestors are deflecting from the real issues. In JNU the student’s protest originally started against the proposed fee hike. But, look at where it stands today. The normal protest of the student against an establishment has been hijacked in to a protest against the ruling government? How is it possible without the solid backing of   vested interest political parties and politicians to continue the agitation unabated? Unfortunately both Congress and Left leaders provided the ammunition for the students and lent their support univocally and it has indeed driven the student bodies to top gear and indulge in violence.

Worst Islamic slogans were too raised by the students thus giving the protests a religious and communal colour.  Students raised ‘Intifada Inquilab’ slogans and how is the slogan related to the problems faced by the students of JMI?  It was the slogan used by The Palestine Liberation Organization in their war against Israel. In a country when chanting  “Jai Shri Ram”  is considered communal and a war cry,  then  what about  shouting “Intifada Inquilab”.  When even “Vande Maatharam” slogan was communalised, what one can say about the students shouting “ La Illaha Illaha”.  Is it not provocative? What will the so-called secular opponents of the Modi government say about this now? But the lobby continue to spin anti Modi and fascism logic.

First politicisation of the students’ agitation took place. Then communalisation followed. It is a clear case that the original causes of the students have been hijacked. The whole idea of the opposition is to paint NDA as the oppressor and instigate the students that the govt is muffling their voices. In a way agitate the young minds for their own partisan ends.  Why to bring in a communal angle to issues related to campuses and the students? What is Kashmir and Jinnah got to do with the mere fee hike in JNU? Unfortunately it is the student community across the country that is suffering from the consequences of such continued incitements by the politicians.

The trend is to create the conflicts, use the students as pawns and trigger violence. By mobilising protests, the opposition is unleashing anarchy. It is a sad state of affairs that the trend is spreading like a viral compromising the interest of the nation.

In the aftermath of violence and arson in the campuses across the country more than 200 academicians, including vice chancellors of universities have joined hands and sent an appeal to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The academicians have clearly expressed their concern about the continued agitation by the students and blamed the Left in their letter addressed to the prime minister. The statement read: "We observe with dismay that in the name of student politics, a disruptive far-left agenda is being pursued. The recent turn of events in campuses from JNU to JIM, from AMU to JU alarms us to the deteriorating academic environment due to the shenanigans of a small coterie of left-wing activists".

The academicians observed that as a result the students not only lose out on the opportunity to learn and build a better future for them but also lose out on the freedom to articulate their own views and find themselves constrained to the left politics.

It is really painful to see the institutes of eminence turning into place for violence. The Universities are meant for education and a knowledge and learning hub and not safe havens of political hatred. The campuses should never be allowed to be converted in to a hub of politics. Time for India to rise above riots. It is a clear act of politicisation of violence. The politicians must uplift the students and help them to transform themselves in to genuinely patriotic leaders who can develop the country.

What the protests signify?

No doubt the increasing violence in the campuses presents a worrisome scenario.  As students’ protests get intensified, Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal said, “Anyone is free to engage in political activities, but colleges and universities should be kept out of it, as many students come to study from far-off places. The Narendra Modi government will not tolerate educational institutions turning into hubs of politicking "at any cost". The centre has also advised the varsity administration to initiate a resolution formula with the protesting students to give up the protests and attend the classes.

History reveals that the student bodies are always susceptible to the so called political ideologies and that lays the foundation for the educational institutes turning in to a ‘breeding ground’ for political aspirations. Moreover, it has become common in Central universities rather than in private universities. The idea of setting up central universities is to provide higher education to students from lacklustre segments of the social spectrum, and such varsities open the gates for the students from all parts of the country.  In such environment, majority of the students get easily influenced by the political ideologies.

Violence as the means of protests is not acceptable anywhere and that too definitely not in the educational campuses. After all, the educational institutes are mandated to pursue excellence. Students must be aware of the political developments in the country but should get involved in the politics at the cost of the education.

But unfortunately, today the students are lured by the political parties and the leaders and many develop an aspiration to make it big from the campuses. Also, the intensity of the protests give rise to a moot question: Do such protests can change political environment in the country?  No doubt there was a spontaneous support from the students across the country. But does it provide a platform for young leaders who can take the country forward?

The narrative of extending solidarity must be viewed broadly under the prism of national interest. As long as the students stand up to genuine cause that can enhance the vision of the country, is welcome. But, how can we allow hooliganism to get entrenched in the places of education? Can the educational institutes be allowed to be hijacked by the political parties? How can the violence be tolerated under the idea of protests?

We cannot let the reassertion of politics in the name of providing solidarity to students’ protest.  Also, using the public space to galvanize people and instigating them to rise against the ruling dispensation for scoring political points cannot be accepted. It does not represent true democratic spirit.

Though it may appear that the vested interest politicians and political parties claim to have achieved their objective by instigating the students, it will certainly jeopardize the nation in the long run. On the other hand, absolutely the backing of such protests with vested interests in the garb of providing solidarity is inherently ephemeral and will ruin the basic democratic values.

It is time for the both the administrators as well as the governments to do the tight rope walking and channelize the power of the students for the uplift of the nation as a whole instead of engaging in meaningless protests.

 

 

Students’ Protests and its Impact

Published : Feb 05, 2020 12:16 pm | By: M D Sridharan

While the students from various institutions across the country joined the protests expressing their solidarity, it is indeed sad to see the institutes of eminence being turning into place for violence.

Recently, several major universities in the country have been rocked by students’ protests. There were wide spread demonstrations, sloganeering, anti government abuses and even the properties were damaged. In some cases and faculty were held hostage by the protesting students and the fellow students who wanted to pursue the studies were threatened and admission process for the new semester were stalled.

Thousands of students across India have taken to the streets against CAA. The pan-India student protests have indeed created an impact. Such widespread support from students is welcome.  Perhaps for the first time in the recent times that India witnessed such a massive participation of youth. Even women students jumped in to the fray.

Surely, these students’ protests reflect the growing dissent voices which is accepted in a democracy. But, ironically, the spate of violence across the campuses by the students has indeed turned the institutions of repute meant for education in to havens of political hatred.  The rise in students’ agitation and the way it spiralled over to campuses across the country raises a serious for concern both for the government as well as the administration. Also, by and large, majority of Indians feel that peace has to be restored in the campuses and the students must return to classes.

How it flared up?

A protest by the students of Jamia Millia Islamia University (JMI) against the government's Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in New Delhi, on December 15th, 2019, has snowballed in to a major student’s agitation across the country.    As the protests turned violent, the police lobbed tear gas shells and lathi-charged people to clear the area. The police also entered the university campus to control the situation.

As the news of the police storming in to New Delhi’s JMI reached the other parts of the country, the students of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in western Uttar Pradesh, who were already protesting against the CAA, raised slogans against the police action on the students of JMI. As tension prevailed in the area as the police sealed all gates to the campus and also used batons and tear gas to control the situation. In the melee several protesting students were injured.  Soon, students across the country indulged in protests in solidarity with the students of JMI and AMU   against the police “brutality”. The incident sparked outrage and galvanised students across India to hit the streets. Soon, students from various universities as well as premier institutes in major cities in the country started protesting.

The protests took an ugly turn January, 5, with goons going on a rampage at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in the nation’s capital. On the evening of Jan 5th, masked men carrying lethal weapons stormed in to the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus and attacked students, teachers and security staff.

The gang barged in to the server room and severed fibre optic cables, damaged properties and attacked students. In the melee several students and some teachers were also been allegedly assaulted. It is reported that the miscreants have fled after vandalising the campus.

Ever since Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced CAA , violence has been brewing in the historic JNU campus under the garb of anti CAA protests.  JUN has been witnessing violence between ABVP and Left students on the varsity campus for some weeks now.

After the masked men went on the rampage in JNU hostels, nationwide protests erupted in support of students.  In solidarity, with the JNU students, the students of the Jadevpur University (JU) in West Bengal, staged protests.  The situation went out of hand as the clashes erupted between the students of JU and the ABVP students. ABVP claims that the students of JU set fire to the BJP flag and it outraged them. As a result there was absolute mayhem and the police resorted to lathi-charge. In the melee, at least dozens of students were badly hurt and they filed a complaint at the nearby police station where they said that they were bashed up mercilessly.  

While the opposition parties accuse the police of brutality, the police released videos of students’ rampage and how the police personnel were attacked by the students seriously injuring them.

Who is instigating the violence?

JIM, JNU & JU - as university after university in the country witness students protests, it raises a pertinent question:  Are the varsities under siege by the students or the students being used as pawns by the political parties? In the recent times the universities across the country, which have once majestically stood as centres of education and research have been now turned in to centres for violence.

Taking a closer look at the intensity of the violence unleashed across the country, it is clear that the war is not against CAA or other policies of the centre. It is because that the vested interest politicians  ensures  that normal life is disturbed and instigate the students  accordingly, so that India burns and stand divided. Simply put, universities have been used by the political parties to further its political agenda. 

In the recent past, a premier university like the JNU has been in news for all the wrong reasons. The trend has been set by the Left long back. In 2016 when the students organised an event on the campus against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru that attracted lot of media glare with the then JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar being arrested.  The incident also set the tone for the non-Left political parties, including the BJP and the Congress, to actively get involved in the affairs of the university's students. What was until then remained pre-dominantly a Left based student’s union gave way for heavy political tone from other parties. 

The opposition parties fuelled the students’ agitation by lending absolute support. They allege that the police entered the university by force without any permission and beat up staff members and students and forced them to leave the campus. They claim that  the Delhi Police reportedly broke into the campus, attacked students and vandalised the premises, and allegedly fired bullets and tear gas, injuring several students and the  students  were brutalised by the atrocities of the Delhi police personnel,

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee described the police attack on the protesting students as “A fascist surgical strike”.  AIMIM president Assaduddin Owaisi expressed solidarity with students termed the police attack on the students as “cruel attack” that was meant to “punish” the students as they “dared to stand up”. He also warned the government and said, “It is not good for the country as this poison will soon engulf the country and the government is responsible”. 

CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury condemned the police action on protesting students and called the police action as “Modi’s emergency”. "This is Modi's emergency. The number of police personnel present at the spot of the protest is higher than what we saw during an emergency. This is not the right way to deal with democratic protests. The Modi government is trying to provoke the students." Sitaram Yechury said.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi said that the Congress will stand in solidarity with the protesting students and blamed the government for using brute force to suppress dissent".

While the leaders jumped in to express their solidarity with the students, none condemned the way they protested. Look at the way the protesting students went about rampaging the campuses and threaten the fellow students and the teachers as well. They also disrupted the admission registration process and beat up the fellow students.  Not only the properties damaged, even professors were held hostages for more than 10 hours.

With the kind of rampage unleashed by the students across the universities, it is clear there exists a complete backing of political parties. It has also exposed the real intent our politicians as their interests are diametrically opposite to the national interest.

While Congress is losing its relevance in states across the country, the Left is facing a severe electoral extinction, both the parties are looking at the anti CAA protest as a big opportunity to counter the ruling BJP. The aim of our politicians is only to win elections and for that they will go to any extent. Today they are conveniently using the combined strengths of the students and youth to polarise society and spread hatred.

Anti Modi Campaign and Banners

Students across the campuses raised angry voices against the centre. Anti-Modi and anti government banners were promptly displayed by the protesting students. They displayed ”Free Kashmir” banners and shouted “Azadi” posters. The students even raised slogans hailing Jinnah. Congress veteran and former Assam Chief Minister,   Ashok Ghlot, described Modi as the “Reincarnation of Hindu Jinnah”.  One wonders what the issues in Kashmir has to do with students problems.

It is a clear sign that the protestors are deflecting from the real issues. In JNU the student’s protest originally started against the proposed fee hike. But, look at where it stands today. The normal protest of the student against an establishment has been hijacked in to a protest against the ruling government? How is it possible without the solid backing of   vested interest political parties and politicians to continue the agitation unabated? Unfortunately both Congress and Left leaders provided the ammunition for the students and lent their support univocally and it has indeed driven the student bodies to top gear and indulge in violence.

Worst Islamic slogans were too raised by the students thus giving the protests a religious and communal colour.  Students raised ‘Intifada Inquilab’ slogans and how is the slogan related to the problems faced by the students of JMI?  It was the slogan used by The Palestine Liberation Organization in their war against Israel. In a country when chanting  “Jai Shri Ram”  is considered communal and a war cry,  then  what about  shouting “Intifada Inquilab”.  When even “Vande Maatharam” slogan was communalised, what one can say about the students shouting “ La Illaha Illaha”.  Is it not provocative? What will the so-called secular opponents of the Modi government say about this now? But the lobby continue to spin anti Modi and fascism logic.

First politicisation of the students’ agitation took place. Then communalisation followed. It is a clear case that the original causes of the students have been hijacked. The whole idea of the opposition is to paint NDA as the oppressor and instigate the students that the govt is muffling their voices. In a way agitate the young minds for their own partisan ends.  Why to bring in a communal angle to issues related to campuses and the students? What is Kashmir and Jinnah got to do with the mere fee hike in JNU? Unfortunately it is the student community across the country that is suffering from the consequences of such continued incitements by the politicians.

The trend is to create the conflicts, use the students as pawns and trigger violence. By mobilising protests, the opposition is unleashing anarchy. It is a sad state of affairs that the trend is spreading like a viral compromising the interest of the nation.

In the aftermath of violence and arson in the campuses across the country more than 200 academicians, including vice chancellors of universities have joined hands and sent an appeal to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The academicians have clearly expressed their concern about the continued agitation by the students and blamed the Left in their letter addressed to the prime minister. The statement read: "We observe with dismay that in the name of student politics, a disruptive far-left agenda is being pursued. The recent turn of events in campuses from JNU to JIM, from AMU to JU alarms us to the deteriorating academic environment due to the shenanigans of a small coterie of left-wing activists".

The academicians observed that as a result the students not only lose out on the opportunity to learn and build a better future for them but also lose out on the freedom to articulate their own views and find themselves constrained to the left politics.

It is really painful to see the institutes of eminence turning into place for violence. The Universities are meant for education and a knowledge and learning hub and not safe havens of political hatred. The campuses should never be allowed to be converted in to a hub of politics. Time for India to rise above riots. It is a clear act of politicisation of violence. The politicians must uplift the students and help them to transform themselves in to genuinely patriotic leaders who can develop the country.

What the protests signify?

No doubt the increasing violence in the campuses presents a worrisome scenario.  As students’ protests get intensified, Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal said, “Anyone is free to engage in political activities, but colleges and universities should be kept out of it, as many students come to study from far-off places. The Narendra Modi government will not tolerate educational institutions turning into hubs of politicking "at any cost". The centre has also advised the varsity administration to initiate a resolution formula with the protesting students to give up the protests and attend the classes.

History reveals that the student bodies are always susceptible to the so called political ideologies and that lays the foundation for the educational institutes turning in to a ‘breeding ground’ for political aspirations. Moreover, it has become common in Central universities rather than in private universities. The idea of setting up central universities is to provide higher education to students from lacklustre segments of the social spectrum, and such varsities open the gates for the students from all parts of the country.  In such environment, majority of the students get easily influenced by the political ideologies.

Violence as the means of protests is not acceptable anywhere and that too definitely not in the educational campuses. After all, the educational institutes are mandated to pursue excellence. Students must be aware of the political developments in the country but should get involved in the politics at the cost of the education.

But unfortunately, today the students are lured by the political parties and the leaders and many develop an aspiration to make it big from the campuses. Also, the intensity of the protests give rise to a moot question: Do such protests can change political environment in the country?  No doubt there was a spontaneous support from the students across the country. But does it provide a platform for young leaders who can take the country forward?

The narrative of extending solidarity must be viewed broadly under the prism of national interest. As long as the students stand up to genuine cause that can enhance the vision of the country, is welcome. But, how can we allow hooliganism to get entrenched in the places of education? Can the educational institutes be allowed to be hijacked by the political parties? How can the violence be tolerated under the idea of protests?

We cannot let the reassertion of politics in the name of providing solidarity to students’ protest.  Also, using the public space to galvanize people and instigating them to rise against the ruling dispensation for scoring political points cannot be accepted. It does not represent true democratic spirit.

Though it may appear that the vested interest politicians and political parties claim to have achieved their objective by instigating the students, it will certainly jeopardize the nation in the long run. On the other hand, absolutely the backing of such protests with vested interests in the garb of providing solidarity is inherently ephemeral and will ruin the basic democratic values.

It is time for the both the administrators as well as the governments to do the tight rope walking and channelize the power of the students for the uplift of the nation as a whole instead of engaging in meaningless protests.

 

 

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