Written by Amandeep
Students of Fergusson College in Pune Tuesday organised a protest and signature campaign against the police crackdown on students of Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University, and against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Carrying portraits of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, the students chanted slogans like ‘hum ek hain (we are united)’, ‘Hindutva Nahi bandhutva chahiye (we want brotherhood, not Hindutva), ‘NRC nahi rozgar chahiye (We want employment, not NRC)’, and ‘Hindu-Muslim ek hai, Modi-Shah fake hai‘. The protesters then converged at the main gate, where they spoke on the issue one by one.
“This protest is being organised by the student community. All progressive-minded and secular individuals or parties can come and join us,” said Santosh Rasave, a protester.
The students, however, were not allowed to hold a signature campaign outside the college.
Senior inspector Deepak Lagad of Deccan Gymkhana police station said, “We had issued notices to two students under Section 149 of Criminal Procedure Code, asking them to ensure their actions do not lead to a law and order situation. We had denied them permission to hold any rally or protest outside the campus of the college. However, they were within their rights to hold the activity within the college campus, which they did. It was conducted peacefully. No offence was registered against anyone.”
The notices had denied students permission for holding the signature campaign on the footpath outside the college gate. They also warned them against any activity that would disturb peace, and against blocking roads or burning effigies etc.
Minutes after the protest march reached the main gate of the campus, a police officer reached the scene. The students, as soon as the police arrived, declared they would end the protest within five minutes. In that while, they raised slogans saying they were not afraid of being beaten up and would speak for the country. The crowd then dispersed peacefully, without the need of any intervention from the police.
Another officer from the Deccan Gymkhana Police station, who was at the scene, said, “The permission for signature campaign outside the campus was denied owing to law and order reasons. The students who were here just distributed pamphlets for a protest happening at Pune University tomorrow.”
Almost an hour after the protest, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarathi Parishad (ABVP) members organised a show of support for the Citizenship Amendment Act and the central government.
“The ABVP has always had a clear stand in favour of the CAA. There are a lot of myths around the CAA being used for political gain. Students destroyed public as well as private property in Delhi. We feel bad for what happened to the students, but also realise that the police had no choice. The students here asked for permission for a signature campaign, but then raised slogans against ABVP and RSS. What is the point of that?” said Shubham Agrawal, Pune city organising secretary of ABVP.
(Inputs from Sushant Kulkarni)
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