Campus activism is important for India’s future

Md Arsalan

After the 2014 election victory of BJP at the Centre, many issues have occupied a major space in primetime debates, managing to suppress other issues. Issues facing farmers, the poor, Dalits, Muslims, Christians, students and tribals. Recently there have been gross human rights violations in Kashmir, where guns were used against the country’s citizens. In 2015, Akhalaq of Dadri, UP was lynched by a mob for allegedly possessing beef. On May 19, 2015, Muhammad Mazloom and a minor, Azad Khan, a 15-year-old-boy, were hanged from a tree by Gau Raksha Dal in Latehar district of Jharkhand. In September this year, four tribals were killed and more than 40 injured by the Jharkhand police in Hazaribag when they were protesting against an accusation by NTPC done with the consent of the BJP government.

Lakhs of farmers have committed suicide in the last two decades. Rohit Vemula, a research scholar of Hyderabad Central University, became a victim of campus discrimination leading to his institutional murder. Students of JNU were arbitrarily detained earlier this year because of so-called “anti-national” slogans shouted on campus. A student of JNU, Najeeb Ahmad, has been missing for more than a month. Najeeb has been missing  after a fiery talk with some right-wing groups at a hostel. Likewise, there have been numerous incidents of repression, suppression, human rights violations and discrimination that have occupied a large space in the country’s discourse.

When we see all this happening, it’s highly important to understand the role of activists, students and other sections of the society. We have seen Irom Sharmila who was on hunger strike for more than 16 years against the draconian AFSPA. Teesta Setalvad has been fighting for justice to the 2002 Gujarat riot victims in which Congress MP Ehsan Jaffery was also lynched. Arundhati Roy has been speaking and writing against the violation of human rights in Kashmir. Investigative journalist Rana Ayyub has exposed many inside stories of Gujarat in her book Gujarat Files. Likewise, there are many others who are fighting for different causes and against barbarism prevailing in the country. Almost all of them are facing different charges, trials and have threats to their lives.

At this point of time it’s highly important for students of different universities to join hands with those who have been victimised and repressed. History stands testimony to the fact that students have played a pivotal role in the freedom struggle of India. When Bengal was partitioned by Lord Curzon in 1905, students agitated against it in large numbers. In Gandhiji’s struggle against the Rowlatt Act of 1919, students embedded the crowd in huge numbers. In 1936, a students’ political party, All India Students’ Federation (AISF) was formed to support the Indian National Congess. Even in recent days we have seen students of AMU, HCU, JNU, AU, Jadhavpur University etc. agitating against human rights violations.

Collective activism is the need of the hour.  It’s highly important for students of different universities and colleges to come out on the streets and use their constitutional and democratic rights of dissent and protest.

Also, there is an immense need to stand in solidarity with and support activists fighting for legitimate genuine causes against fascist tendencies of the ruling dispensation trying to break the secular and pluralistic character of the country. We had torch-bearers like Gandhi, Bhagat Singh, Maulana Azad, B.R. Ambedkar and countless others who propounded the idea of India.

The writer is a student of M. A. mass communication at AMU 

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 December 2016 on page no. 2

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