A day after police entered the Gujarat Vidyapith campus and questioned students who were holding a kite-flying event to mark their protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the students announced a fast against the silence of the authorities who did not support them against “police intimidation”.
“We have not received any communication of support against yesterday’s police action from the university authorities. The authorities only called the police to the campus. Today if police could enter Gandhi’s institute and intimidate students, then tomorrow goons can have free access to the campus like it happened in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU),” said Bhavesh Bariya, a student and one of the organisers of the kite-flying event on Tuesday.
Terming it as “honour killing of Mahatma Gandhi at his own institute”, Bariya said, “We will wait for the authorities’ response till Thursday noon, after which we will sit on a hunger strike against the attempt to curb our freedom of expression. This is an honour killing of Gandhi at the Gujarat Vidyapith, his own institute. The authorities are showing double standards. On one hand, they take pride in Gandhi’s ideologies on the other hand, they are stopping its students from following what he preached.”
Declining the allegations by students, Gujarat Vidyapith Registrar Rajendra Khimani said, “The police were stationed outside the campus. They got to know about the event from social media posts by the students only. They also had information that there was a possible clash between two groups. They were doing their job.”
“There was no restriction on flying kites but it becomes an issue when you invite outsiders. We did not object to the event but when outsiders came in, we had to stay alert,” Khimani added.
Expressing ignorance about the hunger strike, he said, “They are blowing it out of proportion. Police entered the campus because of them only. Students themselves announced the event and went ahead with it without permission from the authorities,” the Registrar said.
On Monday, the students announced on social media inviting the members of civil society and students from other institutes to the Vidyapith campus to “celebrate Uttarayan by flying kites with anti-CAA slogans on Tuesday at 10 am”. Half an hour prior to the event, police entered the campus and questioned students and asked for their identification.
After the students objected to their presence on the campus, the personnel were stationed at the Vidyapith entrance and the students continued with their event.
Students said that police entered the campus in three vehicles and asked for their identity cards. “We asked them to maintain law and order and not intimidate us. We also asked who called them on the campus to which they did not reply,” said one of the participant students adding that they are students of GV and have a “right to celebrate the festival in a peaceful manner”.