TISS students display fearlessness

Published - December 17, 2019 01:41 am IST - Mumbai

Show of strength:  Students of TISS staging a demonstration on Monday.

Show of strength: Students of TISS staging a demonstration on Monday.

Extending support to the students of Jamia Milia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), who were subjected to the police brutality, over 600 students from Mumbai’s Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) took out a protest rally from their campus to Ambedkar Garden in Chembur on Monday. The students, who were joined by their faculty members, intended to display fearlessness in the face of a crackdown.

“We held a candlelight march on Sunday night and decided to boycott classes on Monday. The message we want to send across is we are not afraid. The communities and States are more united than they were before,” former TISS student union leader Fahad Ahmed said.

Mr. Ahmed said BJP’s Amit Shah may have thought that the police brutality on two prominent university campuses would spread fear among other students. “The best way to respond to such institutional violence is civil disobedience. The fight against such suppression can only be fought on Gandhian and Ambedkarite principals.”

The students raised slogans demanding accountability from the Central government, a rollback of the Citizenship Amendment Act, and a stop to attempts to divide the country on religious grounds.

Leena Abraham, who teaches at Centre for Studies in Sociology of Education, TISS, condemned the growing compromise of universities as spaces for debate and discussion. “Only the student fraternity is raising the right questions fearlessly and citizens should be listening to them. The police can’t just break into these spaces and act like they are above the law. Policemen threw tear gas shells at students in a library. How can that ever be justified?”

The students said they have been increasingly subjected to violence over the past few years. “In the last six years, the BJP government has not started a single central university but it has definitely attacked the ones that engage in research, or question their governance. Students of universities like JNU, TISS, and AMU are unafraid to raise their voice against unconstitutional actions and this student unity has left the government worried,” Urvashi Chudauwala, a student of TISS, said.

Mr. Ahmed urged the Delhi Police to find out who were behind the vandalisation of buses, and take action. “This is a fight for a freedom which is different from the one fought in the past. However, like before, this will be a long-drawn struggle.”

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