Students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) who were in Ahmedabad on Sunday to address city residents and members of civil society on the recent incidents of ‘police violence on university students’, said that the present-day government with the help of police and university administrations is trying to ‘delegitimise student voices and their concerns.’ Also seated in the audience was former IPS officer and now a professor in IIM-A Rajnish Rai.
Chandan Kumar, a student of Jamia and a member of the All India Students Association, said he would receive calls from the SHO asking him to stop student marches.
When students took out march on December 15, the police lathicharged them inside Jamia without any provocation… The day after the violence, six women were found unconscious in our main library. I agree when (Prime Minister) Modi says that Muslims need not fear, because the fact is that everyone is living in fear at the moment…’
Nishant Bhardwaj, who was a cabinet member of AMU students union 2018-19, said, ‘The purpose of lathicharge is to disperse mob and thereby de-escalate such actions. On December 15, not only tear gas shells were lobbed but the police also beat up students…’
Film-maker and author Natasha Badhwar, who along with others such as Harsh Mander and Nandini Sundar, had carried out a fact-finding independent investigation at AMU on December 17 following the incidents of violence reported from the university, said, ‘We found instances when police lobbed tear gas shells inside the hostel rooms… The students didn’t indulge in any violence, yet we found they were slapped with serious charges of attempt to murder.’
Questioning the AMU vice-chancellor’s notice for indefinite shut down of AMU, Bhardwaj said, ‘We received a letter from the registrar that they’re shutting down the university for an indefinite period. The administration says this is not sine die. I believe violence in universities, be it Jamia, JNU or AMU, it cannot be perpetrated without the university administration being hand-in-glove (with the police).’
Classes were suspended, exams were postponed. They got us packed into buses and if we did not, they would beat us. After few days, students came back and protested again and within a week nearly 15,000 students of AMU were slapped with FIRs,’ added Bharadwaj.
Attesting Bharadwaj’s claims, Badhwar added, ‘When we met the VC and the proctor of AMU, we were not aware of the level of force that was used. We have written in our report that stun grenades were used. This we know because the VC and the proctor told us. The AMU registrar is a serving IPS officer with no experience in university administration. When we asked them what was the need of using stun grenades, he told us that they asked them (police) to do it as no one will have the courage to protest after that.’
Remembering the Navnirman movement that had erupted over fee hike in university, Swati Singh, JNU student and a former JNUSU councillor, said, ‘The movement led to a CM’s resignation and forced the government to collapse… It is obvious that the attacks that students are facing today at universities at the hands of the present-day government, is because they very well know that student-led movements have the power to topple governments.’