Last few days have seen several #AssamWithJNU #JusticeForRohith protests and rallies demanding justice for Rohith Vemula and against the assault on JNU, police crackdown and arrest of JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar under the charges of sedition, the media trial of Umar Khalid, and the undeclared emergency in the country.
Yesterday, on 19th February, Satra Mukti Sangram Samiti [Students’ Liberation Struggle Committee] along with SFI and AISF units of Gauhati University staged a protest in Gauhati University campus. On 18th February, a similar protest was staged by students of Dibrugarh University which was disrupted by hooligans of ABVP, Bajrang Dal and Hindu Jagaran Manch; according to reports in order to control the situation from spiraling out district authorities had to deploy CRPF inside Dibrugarh University campus.
That same day, in Guwahati thousands of citizens including peasants, public intellectuals, artists, and students and faculty members of Cotton College State University, Gauhati University, TISS – Guwahati protested.
Under the banner of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) [Peasants’ Liberation Struggle Committee] and Satra Mukti Sangram Samiti [Students’ Liberation Struggle Committee], the student wing of KMSS, the protesters gathered at 11 am at Dighalipukhuri near the District Library. The protesters were addressed by KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi, former principal of Cotton College and renowned cultural activist Sitanath Lahkar, eminent author and social activist Dr. Dinesh Baishya, noted artist Loknath Goswami, General Secretary Asom Sangrami Mancha Manjit Mahanta among others. At around 1 pm the gathered protesters took out a protest march from near Dighalipukhuri to the office of the deputy commissioner of Kamrup (metropolitan).
Addressing the protesters Akhil Gogoi said “This protest rally has been taken out to tell the people of Assam that the Centre, which has done nothing for the people, is arresting students who are working for the country. The students questioned whether hanging of Afzal Guru was right and sedition charges were slapped on them. Then goons of RSS and BJP attacked Kanhaiya Kumar, students and teachers of JNU and journalists on the premises of the court. The situation is now like the one during Emergency,”. He further added that “Today RSS-BJP is dictating us on everything – what to wear, what to eat, what to see and what to say. It is a fully fascist attitude … Kanhaiya is a symbol of protest and right to freedom of speech”.
Sitanath Lakhar while addressing the protesters said “First it was FTII, then University of Hyderabad and now JNU. If we keep mum, similar incidents will take place here also. It is a design to terrorise people. Kanhaiya, students, teachers and journalists were beaten up inside court where people go for justice”.
It might be worth mentioning that few days earlier scores of academicians from Assam; among others noted literary critic and retired Gauahti University professor Dr. Hiren Gohain, Renowned poet and former Vice Chancellor of Gauhati University Amarjyoti Choudhury, Gauhati University Professor Emeritus Khanindra Chowdhury, Assam University Professor Debasish Bhattacharya, Assam University Controller of Examination Suprabir Dutta Roy; had condemn the Modi Goverment’s handling of the JNU issue.
Dr. Gohain told PTI that “I think this is an excessive use of state power in such a way as to imperil some of our basic constitutional rights. The fact that many members of the faculty have come out in a demonstration of solidarity with the protesting students confirms that it is not a mere case of youthful adventurism.” Prof. Debasish Bhattacharya added that “Anyone can have an opinion on Kashmir and what is the problem in having a discussion on that? If there is anything wrong happening, the university has its own mechanism. The government should have faith on this and should not have interfered. It is a fascist approach”.
Below are few images from the rally and today’s protest in Guahati University! Photo courtesy: Rasel Hussain, adviser, Satra Mukti Sangram Samiti (Students’ Liberation Struggle Committee).