The students’ group in Jawaharlal Nehru University, BAPSA (Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students Association), has released a statement in support of students summoned by Telangana police.
The Telangana police had filed a first information report (FIR) against 14 students of University of Hyderabad and sent them summons to appear for investigation for participating in a protest rally held in February this year. The students had marched over a 100-metre stretch from a coffee shop to Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens.
The students named in the FIR say that it was a peaceful protest where slogans were raised and speeches were delivered on the issues concerned.
BAPSA condemned police’s hand-handedness in strong words saying, “The intent to harass in this case is crystal clear. It is after seven months of the protest that the Telangana police has filed an FIR and begun harassing the students. The FIR orders that the students present themselves before the police to explain why they should not be arrested on October 6 but the FIR itself had been dispatched only on October 8 (two days after the date of appearance before the police).”
Read the full statement below.
On October 10, Manikanta Pallikonda, a student at HCU and a member of Bahujan Students Front (BSF), received a letter from Raidurgam Police Station informing him that he and 13 other students of HCU had been booked by the Cyberabad police in an FIR concerning a protest march in Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU).
Manikanta is a former student of JNU and former office bearer of BAPSA who had also contested the 2016-17 JNUSU [Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union]. The FIR alleges that on February 21, 2020, 20–30 HCU students had illegally gathered inside MANUU conducting a rally without permission with an intent to provoke the students and disturb the tranquillity of the campus.
Following the anti-CAA-NRC protests across the country, which were held against the draconian CAA-NRC which seeks to jeopardise the citizenship and hence constitutional rights of a large section of Bahujans—the SC, ST, OBC and minorities, student organisations were coming together to make themselves heard. Several student organisations supported each other’s efforts in solidarity and made efforts to go beyond mere tokenism, instead establishing a meaningful democratic coordination.
One such effort was being made among students in Hyderabad, a culmination of which was a protest at MANUU with the resident MANUU students’ union leading the charge. The protest was peaceful and conducted in a democratic spirit but yet students of HCU were being threatened by the police for their participation. Now, several months after the protest has taken place, the HCU student-activists are being informed that an FIR has been filed against them.
The intent to harass in this case is crystal clear. It is after seven months of the protest that the Telangana police has filed an FIR and begun harassing the students. The FIR orders that the students present themselves before the police to explain why they should not be arrested on October 6 but the FIR itself had been dispatched only on October 8 (two days after the date of appearance before the police).
The harassment meted out to the students is simply to silence them into submission. It is a familiar trope that has now become the modus operandi of the state under the Brahmanical twins BJP-RSS [Bharatiya Janata Party–Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh]. The law has simply become a tool to be wielded against any and every opposition to silence any criticism of the ruling regime.
Institutional mechanisms, which were supposed to check the executive excesses, have either been made pliant at best or made accomplice at worst. Vulnerable, marginalised populations are being threatened with criminal cases. Their constitutionally protected rights are being violated; in the case of CAA-NRC, the constitutional status of citizenship of particular marginalised communities itself is being jeopardised. Yet, if the marginalised communities dare raise their voices against it, they are viciously attacked and harassed.
We have been witnesses to the repression unleashed by the state on several activists under the garb of the pandemic. Baseless cases are foisted on vocal critics of the government by using laws which have specifically been tweaked to suit the ruling dispensation. A reign of terror has been unleashed with hate-mongers like Kapil Mishra being rewarded and those protesting constitutionally and peacefully being harassed and intimidated.
In Hathras, the Savarnas are threatening the victim’s family but the police are busy intimidating activists and journalists instead. Those who are criticising the government and raising uncomfortable questions, are being harassed with FIRs and arrests. What we must understand clearly is that this is not just the question of dissent being expressed as a constitutional right to freedom of expression but primarily a clash between two irreconcilable worldviews—one which believes in the egalitarian constitutional spirit and the other which is hell-bent on subverting it and imposing Manusmriti in practice in the quest to establish the Hindu rashtra.
From the arrests, harassment and intimidation of anti-CAA-NRC protestors to the way the entire state machinery is distorting the Hathras gang rape and murder by four Thakur men and the state patronage being given to the Savarnas threatening the victim’s family, what we can see is a petrified state which fears resistance, especially from the marginalised many. But resist we must.
BAPSA unequivocally condemns the FIR foisted on the 14 students and demands that the FIR be revoked immediately. Jai Bhim!