On Tuesday, hundreds of students gathered at St Joseph’s College in Bengaluru. They joined the hundreds of other students across the country, protesting the violence the students of Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi were subjected to on January 5. Dressed in black and holding candles and posters, the students observed a vigil and expressed solidarity with the JNU students.
Earlier in the day, St Joseph’s students had also organised a seminar where several members of the demonstration denounced the ‘silencing culture’ to quell dissent which appears to have increased in recent times, they said.
Condemning the violence in JNU, a second-year student of St Joseph’s said, “I think the JNU students are not just standing for themselves, but for the whole country. The student community is a formidable force, and we have proved the same in the past few weeks.”
A B Com student said that this protest was a mark of unity and solidarity. “Irrespective of their individual political stances, they are united to preserve the nature of democracy as students,” he said.
At the candlelight vigil, one of the protesters said, “However dark it gets, there will always be hope, there will always be light.” A professor of the college also pointed out, “This struggle is not only for the students, but for the entire civil society.”
This peaceful student protest which took place with the permission of the faculty members, went on to highlight that this struggle is of the civil society. A member of the teaching staff pointed out, “Students express their solidarity in a democratic nation, by demanding freedom and by promoting the concept of accepting differences among people. This is what is reflected in their protests.”
At the protest, the students sang many patriotic songs as well, including “Ae watan mere watan aabad rahe tu…” and “Saare Jahaan se accha…”. They also held up posters which said “Today JNU, tomorrow, me and you”, “Books, not lathis. Culture, not violence”, and “Sticks and stones may break our bones, but not our spirit.”
Similar protests were held in the past days at various universities across Bengaluru, such as IIM, Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and National Law School of India University (NLSIU).