On Monday, the quaint campus of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in north Bengaluru saw a group of students across departments join an impromptu day-long protest. Like in many academic campuses across the country, the students of the premier institute also spoke against the recently passed Citizenship Amendment Act and the equally contentious proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Holding placards in their hands, the students stood in front of the administrative (main) building of the university below the statue of Jamshedji Tata, in what was mostly a silent protest. Their placards read, “How dare you say we are not Indians?”, “NRC is anti-Constitutional”, “Why the hate for Muslims?”, “Why the hate for Tamils” and so on.
Another placard in Bengali quoted late revolutionary poet Kazi Nazrul Islam stating, “Hindus and Muslims are two flowers of the same stalk."
“The CAA goes against the very idea of India, the Indian Constitution. We, as people of India, are protected by the Constitution of India, and as the people of India, it is our fundamental duty to defend our Constitution,” the students said before reading out the Preamble of the Constitution.
Other than registering their protest against the Central government for pushing through these policies, they condemned the alleged police excesses against students of the Jamia Milia University in Delhi and those of the Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh. In fact, in Jamia, the students were made to walk out of the campus with their hands raised above their head after the police had allegedly fired teargas shells inside the university library.
The students did not want to be quoted by the media or come in front of the camera due to a recent gag order by the IISc's administration, following the protests in July over the tragic death of security personnel on the campus.
Fundamental values of our Republic under enormous stress: IISc Professor
Speaking in his personal capacity, at the sidelines of the students’ protest, Venu Madhav Govindu, faculty of the Electrical Engineering Department said it is time for every right-thinking Indian to speak up.
"We are going through a very difficult time in our country where a lot of the foundational values on what our modern Republic was built on are under enormous stress. And currently, we are seeing an attack to unroll those gains that were obtained during the freedom struggle and after," he told TNM.
He elaborated, "As a consequence of the freedom movement and the making of our Constitution, we have built a modern Republic based on the values of equality, justice, fraternity. By and large, for the last many decades we have managed to move ahead to some degree towards a better society. And in the process, overcome some of our societal injustices. Essentially what we have now is a process whereby a lot of those things are being rolled back or there is an attempt to roll back. Therefore there is a need to counter and stand up and be counted for the values that we believe in."