BENGALURU: Uncertain career prospects, social distancing norms, and possible repercussions in store... Student protestors have little working in their favour. But those who attended the anti-CAA demonstration on June 3 at Maurya Circle, were determined to demand the release of jailed protestors. In numbers less than 100, and at a distance from each other, they asserted that while the element of fear is well within them, it’s more about not protesting against oppression. For a student protestor, the events back in February witnessed two of her friends being arrested, was a turning point for her.
“I was in Delhi when the riots happened and I was part of the riot relief efforts. I saw how students from Jamia Millia, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Ambedkar University Delhi were leading relief work while the state barely lifted a finger. And now they’ve arrested these students,” says the protestor who did not want to be named. Agreed another protestor, who also did not wish to be named. “I want to ensure a safer space to grow up in,” she says, adding, “Going out to protest during the pandemic is not safe but nor is silence.” She shares how they protested for 30 minutes on bikes and held up posters.
Another protestor said, “We have no idea of what lies ahead with the current government, which seems to have an agenda to exclude minorities from the country.” Questions were also raised with respect to the ‘Free Kashmir’ poster, which a protestor claims was misquoted. She added, “If we’re demanding the release of political prisoners, then we have to talk about how journalists like Masrat Zahra are being picked up in Kashmir as well. Whether Kashmir should be free or not is a question that Kashmiris should be allowed to give their opinion on.”
BT Venkatesh (58), who is fighting the case of arrested student Amulya Leona, emphasised that a big chunk of the awareness among students has come through liberal education post the economic liberalisation in the country. “There is a discontent among students who believe in a democratic process. They believe in liberty which has been taken away, ”he say.