As student activists debate Article 370, university administrations, state govts crack whip on dissenting voices

  • In several parts of the country, a section of university students held protests condemning the Centre's actions in Jammu and Kashmir.

  • State governments and university administrations have taken a stern view of students expressing opposition to the Centre's standpoint.

  • At the Panjab University in Chandigarh, a talk on Article 370 planned by a student group was cancelled on Tuesday,

While the Centre's move to invalidate Article 370 has sparked off a political slugfest between the NDA and sections of the Opposition parties, the issue has also resonated on university campuses. In several parts of the country, a section of university students held protests condemning the Centre's actions.

State governments and university administrations have taken a stern view of students opposing the Centre's standpoint on the issue.

 As student activists debate Article 370, university administrations, state govts crack whip on dissenting voices

A student protest against the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. Reuters

Kashmiri students deplore 'expansionism'

On Eid-al-Adha, Kashmiri students at Uttar Pradesh's Aligarh Muslim University boycotted the lunch invite from the liaison officer of the Central Government to protest the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

The students issued a statement rejecting the invite and claiming that it was aimed at "rubbing salt on the wounds of the people of Kashmir".

Incidentally, among the most surreal images from recent days was that of rows of security personnel at the AMU holding tear gas launchers as a "precautionary measure" ahead of a planned debate on Article 370. Several Twitter users pointed out at the irony of heavy security presence for a university debate, and what it indicates about freedom of speech.

Sharing details of the development, Civil Lines Circle Officer Anil Samanya had said, "Through social media we had received information that some AMU students were going to have a debate on the Kashmir issue and scrapping of Article 370. Hence as a precautionary measure, we have deployed force."

He had also informed that one company of Rapid Action Force (RAF), civil police and PAC have been deployed to ensure there is no law and order problem.

Similarly, a section of Kashmiri students at Jamia Millia Islamia said on Monday that they will not be part of a lunch meeting with a Central Government officer on Wednesday as a mark of protest.

"We deem participating in such a lunch event as an act of betrayal and a flagrant disregard towards our people's legitimate rights," they said in a statement.  "We unanimously reject this exceptionalism and expansionism...," the statement added.

Administrations crack whip on discussion groups

At the Panjab University in Chandigarh, a talk on Article 370 planned by a student group was cancelled on Tuesday, and the university authorities claimed that the police had told them that no event on the Kashmir issue would be allowed inside the campus.

While the student group — PSU (Lalkaar) — condemned the "authoritarian" behaviour of the varsity, a professor was quoted as saying by The Tribune, "We are not imposing any restriction on the students. We have asked them to give us an application regarding the discussion."

The professor also claimed that the police presence was due to the scheduled arrival of Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu at the campus. Naidu on Wednesday gave a speech at the university on the abrogation of Article 370, and said that the move is not "communal" but is a matter of the country's security.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the country, the Central University of Tamil Nadu sought a reply from a group of 30 students with respect to a meeting held by them last Wednesday to discuss the same provision.

According to News18, two days after the Centre announced the legislative changes in Jammu and Kashmir, the university issued a circular which stated, "Anybody or group of persons who indulge in activities and which is a threat to security and integrity of India will not be tolerated and stern action will be taken against them, including dismissal from the university without conduct of any inquiry, followed by criminal action under the IPC.”

Last Wednesday, posters appeared on the walls of the institution expressing solidarity with Kashmiris. The university's management filed a police complaint to find those responsible for putting up the posters, as mentioned in an article in The News Minute.

In a similar vein, the University of Hyderabad (UoH) last week released an order which prohibited all protests and agitations in the varsity campus.

"With reference to the letter dated 5 July, 2019, issued by SHO, Gachibowli, that as per notification issued by the Commissioner of Police, Cyberabad ... dated 24 June, 2019, that there is a prohibition of assembly of five or more persons in the limits of Cyberabad limits under section 144 of CrPC...," read the order released by University's registrar Sardar Singh.

"In this connection, under the directions of the Cyberabad Police Commissionerate, it is to inform that all the protests and agitations are prohibited in the Hyderabad University campus with immediate effect and assembling of five or more persons at one place are also prohibited forthwith until further orders," the order read.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Aug 14, 2019 18:13:06 IST