Over 10,000 academics, scholars, teachers, students and members of civil society from around the world have condemned the alleged police brutality against students at Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi and Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh. They have expressed their unconditional support to the students, faculty and staff of the two varsities. They also said the amended Citizenship Act “contravenes the right to equality and secular citizenship enshrined in the Indian Constitution”.
“We stand in unconditional solidarity with the students, faculty and staff of Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University, and express our horror at this violent police and state action,” they said in their statement. “With them, we affirm the right of citizens to peaceful protest and the autonomy of the university as a non-militarised space for freedom of thought and expression. The brutalisation of students and the attack on universities is against the fundamental norms of a democratic society.”
They said they were watching the situation with extreme concern. “We refuse to remain silent at the violence unleashed on our colleagues (students, staff and faculty) peacefully protesting the imposition of a discriminatory and unjust law.”
Violence broke out on Sunday evening after a protest march by Jamia students, and ended in a pitched battle with the Delhi Police. Buses were set on fire, and several students and police officers were injured. After the violent clashes, the police allegedly entered the campus without permission and cracked down on students. Later in the evening, the police detained around 100 students, who were released around 3.30 am on Monday. The police have been accused of using excessive force and even assaulting students.
Police had also entered the Aligarh Muslim University campus on Sunday evening after a clash broke out between them and students. They baton-charged students and used tear gas shells on them.
“The peaceful demonstration and gathering of citizens does not constitute criminal conduct,” the signatories said. “The police action in the Jamia Millia Islamia and AMU campuses is blatantly illegal under the constitution of India.”
The signatories include Romila Thapar, Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler, Nivedita Menon, Sudipto Kaviraj, Veena Das, Uma Chakravarti, Partha Chatterjee, Homi Bhaba, Akeel Bilgrami, Tanika Sarkar, Mahmood Mamdani and Sheldon Pollock, among others. The signatories are from over 1,100 universities, colleges and academic institutions including the Harvard University, Princeton University, The London School of Economics, UC Berkeley, Yale University, Cambridge and Oxford Universities. Academics from prominent Indian institutes like Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi University, Indian Institute of Technology, the Indian Statistical Institute and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.
Following the incident at Jamia, protests against the amendments to the Citizenship Act and the alleged police brutality against the students swept campuses across India on Monday and Tuesday.