Student uprising

Some of the major revolutions in history have been brought about by students, who believed in a cause and weren’t afraid to fight for it. Here are a few of the biggest student protests of all time

Published: 30th January 2017 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th January 2017 03:43 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

Jallikattu Jaunt
The major demand was the promulgation of the ordinance for the removal of bulls from the list of performing animals in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act

1990, Delhi

When the VP Singh government announced its decision to implement the Mandal Commission report, spontaneous protests erupted. Students of higher castes organised agitations against the implementation of the report.

The protests were spontaneous and had no specific organisers. It began at Marina Beach in Chennai along with sit-ins at large grounds across Tamil Nadu. The protests were initially formed by members of the student community across the state which was further Strengthened by people from various sections such as IT professionals who later joined in. The lack of leadership was seen as a stumbling block for the State Government because it could not call people for talks. The protests were largely peaceful.

January 2016, India

What kicked up a political storm was the suicide committed by a Dalit student, Rohith Vemula, in a hostel room on January 17, 2016. Hundreds of students from universities across India participated in a ‘Justice for Rohith Vemula’ protest rally and expressed solidarity with the students of the University of Hyderabad by converging at the campus.

January 2017, Chennai

The chief motivation of the protest was against the Supreme Court’s order to ban Jallikattu, a traditional Tamil bull-taming sport. The sport was banned by the Supreme Court in a decision citing animal cruelty. Several apolitical groups, organised largely via social media, conducted a protest at Marina Beach in Chennai to revoke the ban on Jallikattu and soon gained momentum all over Tamil Nadu.

2006, India

It was the second major protest against the reservation system. In 2006, widespread protests took place in India to oppose the decision of the Congress-led UPA government to implement reservations for OBCs in both central and private higher education institutes. Students and doctors belonging to upper castes disregarded this move as discriminatory.

August 2011, Chile

Chilean students rejected President Sebastián Piñera’s proposed education reforms. The main goal of these massive strikes was to increase funding for public education.

March 11, 2013, Marina beach, Chennai

The war crimes committed by the army against Tamils in Sri Lanka during the Civil War has been a sensitive issue for the Tamil community. Students in Tamil Nadu were seen holding a series of protests and agitations led by the Students Federation for Freedom of Tamil Eelam. The protesters had only one demand from the Government of India: vote in support of the UN resolution for an independent international investigation against alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka. The agitations, which started on March 11, 2013, saw an ugly turn after Tamil Nadu police arrested students of Loyola College who were fasting.

November 14, 1973, Athens, Greece

When their strike on November 14, 1973 elicited no response, students from Athens Polytechnic barricaded themselves inside the university, building a radio station using supplies from a laboratory. They broadcast across Athens, urging the people of Greece to join them in their stand against the military junta and dictatorship. The death toll came to at least 24, and as many as 1,000 people were arrested.

June 16, 1976, Orlando Stadium, South Africa

The South African Department of Education decreed that Afrikaans was to be used in schools. Many African teachers couldn’t even speak Afrikaans, and students found their grades declining. Thousands of students walked out of their classrooms and headed for the Orlando Stadium, to take part in a rally planned by the Soweto Students’ Representative Council’s (SSRC) Action Committee.

April 11, 1968 West Germany


Students protest the shooting of anarchist-leaning leader Rudi Dutschke by fascist Josef Bachmann, and the Bild newspaper’s message to ‘eliminate the troublemakers’. 50,000 young people took to the streets and prevented the delivery of the newspaper. Police fought back with water cannons and officers on horseback, arresting over 180 students.

May 1968, France

Twenty-two percent of the entire working population went on strike, demanding concessions for their working conditions, and bringing the capitalist government to the verge of collapse.

April 21, 1989, Tiananmen Square, China

Set against a backdrop of rapid economic development and social changes in post Mao-era China, the protests reflected anxieties about the country’s future. Students called for democracy, greater accountability, freedom of the press, and freedom of speech. Party authorities declared martial law on May 20, and mobilised as many as 300,000 troops to Beijing.

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