Many have found a new voice through the online space provided by portals where petitions can be registered to express grievances. And while some complain about bad roads, the students of the English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU) have taken to the web to protest the police charges brought against some students by the university.
The Students’ Struggle Committee has been fighting against the varsity administration for allegedly filing criminal cases against six students, and has gone a step ahead by filing an online petition addressed to president Pranab Mukherjee, requesting him to “ensure that the EFL University administration withdraws the false police case filed against six students under Sec. 153(A) for peacefully conducting a secular cultural festival.”
Cases were registered against six organisers, including two female students, under Section 153 (A), a non-bailable offence for ‘disturbing communal harmony’.
The petition on change.org, filed a couple of days ago, has already gathered 400 (and counting) online signatures. Committee members said that the administration’s complaint against the EFLU Asura Week falsely implicates a purely inclusive, secular and non-confrontational endeavour as “communal” and “offensive”.
According to the petition, the present administration was systematically demolishing all possibilities of resistance and debate in the name of “discipline” and “security”.
“It seems practically impossible to express one’s differences with dominant notions and ideas without being accused of indiscipline, criminality, violence and so on. Students and employees from marginalized communities have been continuously harassed and criminalized for the last one year in the form of police cases, failures in the German department, memos on false pretexts, termination of security guards without notice, targeting Dalit, Bahujan, Adivasi and minority student activists etc. We consider this a complete break-down of campus democracy, a criminalisation of the real secular forces of India and the Dalits, and a Hinduttva assault on the space of higher education,” said the petition.
On condition of anonymity, one of the members of the committee added, “We, as students of this university, will not accept such criminalisation of cultural expressions from marginalised communities. We shall not be silent about attempts to curb and decimate our democratic rights of critique and discourse. And we strongly condemn the inefficacy of an administration that has to solely depend on police force to initiate any dialogue with its students.”
The university for their part deny having filed any police complaint against the students.
Clarified the Nodal Officer, Prof Syed Sayeed, "The university didn't file a case against anybody. On the said day, the students hadn't taken permission to conduct the event and another group of students raised a complaint becuase it hurt the sentiments of a particular community. Upon receiving the complaint, the Vice Chancellor instructed the deputy Proctor to inform the police as the situation could have gone out of hand."
The professor further added that they were unaware of the police complaint and the specifics of it. "The situation was only reported to the police; the rest of the action was taken by them. We need to verify what is going on."
To read the petition, log on to www.chn.ge/1c8EReX.