Professors, researchers and staff members of Azim Premji University in Bengaluru have released a statement expressing their distress over the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed nation-wide National Population Register (NPR).
Criticizing the government over bringing the “unconstitutional” provisions, the statement condemned the police action in Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Mangaluru, as well as other parts of the country.
“We stand in solidarity with all those peaceful protestors who are exercising their constitutional right to dissent as it is ‘the safety valve of democracy’,” reads the statement, signed by 76 members from the university.
The statement has condemned the “undemocratic” manner in which the issue of fee hike protests in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) was dealt with and the recent attack on students and professors.
“We, the undersigned faculty, post-doctoral researchers, and members at Azim Premji University, Bengaluru, are writing this letter as concerned people of India to express our distress over the recent events in our country over the past few months,” the statement reads.
The statement termed the CAA to be in direct violation of Articles 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution and to be patently divisive on communal lines. It added that the CAA and the proposed NRC are spreading fear among several communities.
“The poor, who are also document-poor, especially women, are likely to be the most affected if a nationwide NPR-NRC is rolled out. The vengeful state repression that these protests were met with, especially in BJP ruled states, is deeply concerning,” the statement reads.
“The brutal attacks by the Uttar Pradesh police on innocent protestors, and their usage of stun grenades in Aligarh is reprehensible. 18 people have died and at least 1200 people have been arrested in UP. In Mangalore, not only did the police use teargas inside a hospital, they also killed two people. The Delhi police has also used tear gas on students in the Jamia Millia Islamia library. Apart from these universities, students and teachers from other institutions (e.g., IIM-Ahmedabad, Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Bengaluru) have had to face intimidation for practising their constitutional right to dissent peacefully,” the statement adds.
The statement also spoke of the sedition case filed against the student holding the ‘Free Kashmir’ placard in Mysuru University during anti-CAA protests and referred to it as “another grim picture of the complete breakdown of basic freedoms in India.” Condemning the high-handedness of the BJP-led government, it says, “We urge the Government of India to instead focus on developmental issues, improve government accountability and strengthen public institutions.“
The statement also raised the issue of ongoing internet blockade in Jammu and Kashmir, calling it a clear violation of the fundamental rights of the people. The statement also called for the release of all political prisoners and ensure the return of normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir.