CAA stir: Several Pondicherry University students boycott convocation presided by Ram Nath Kovind
Pondicherry Students’ council issued a statement on Friday invited the students not to participate in the event as a gesture of solidarity to represent students who were attacked in parts of India.
CHENNAI: Several students of the Pondicherry University boycotted the annual convocation meet which was presided by the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind.
The President was supposed to present graduation certificates and gold medals to the achievers and is a Visitor of the University under the Pondicherry University Act, 1985.
The Pondicherry Students’ council issued a statement and an open letter on Friday inviting the students to be present at the ceremony but not receive their degrees from the President as a gesture of solidarity to represent their counterparts who were attacked across the country.
The letter claimed it was stemming from "undying anger" because the country was being broken down along communal lines by the government. The students council also referred to the deaths of people during protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
On Saturday, students who were to receive gold medals at their convocation took to Whatsapp to convey that they would boycott the event using hashtags like ‘Withdraw NRC’ and ‘Withdraw CAA’.
A S Arun Kumar, a PhD scholar from the varsity's Anthropology department, who passed out in 2018, topped the list with first rank and was invited by the department to receive a gold medal from the President but declined to attend the ceremony.
“Soon after the protests on NRC and CAA erupted I decided to reject my convocation since it is coming from the man who signed the Act. So after Students' council urged students to boycott the event I decided to step in," said Arun Kumar.
"When the entire student fraternity is being beaten and tormented for peaceful protests, I cannot accept the medal which is a joyous moment for any student," he added.
Karthika B Kurup, another student and gold medalist from M.Sc., Electronic Media who passed out in 2018 told Express: "It is an effort to register my protest against the CAA and NRC. Protesting against the law that damages the democratic spirit of the nation is a right and no one can stop it. Students around the country were targeted brutally and beaten for carrying out their right. Not accepting the graduation certificate from the President sends a proper response to the government that the students of the country is upset."
The decision was taken to express solidarity with students across the country "facing state repression" and strongly protest against the implementation of unconstitutional legislations, a joint release by
the council's president Parichay Yadav and secretary V. Kuralanban stated.
Pondicherry University had held continuous protests within and outside the campus condemning the CAA and NRC.
The convocation was also attended by the Lt Governor of Puducherry, Dr Kiran Bedi, Chief Minister of Puducherry Narayana Swami and Vice-Chancellor Professor Gurmeet Singh.