Former Indian cricketer Sunil Gavaskar on Saturday urged students protesting over the amended Citizenship Act to go to back to classrooms instead, PTI reported.
“I will only tell them to go back to the classrooms,” Gavaskar said, while delivering the 26th Annual Lal Bahadur Shastri Memorial Lecture in New Delhi. “That is their main duty. They have gone to the university to study, so please study.”
Last month, violence broke out after a protest march by students of Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia ended in a pitched battle with the Delhi Police. Buses were set on fire, and several students and police officers were injured. The police were accused of using excessive force and even assaulting students. Police also entered the Aligarh Muslim University campus the same evening after a clash broke out between them and students. They baton-charged students and used tear gas shells on them. Following this, protests against the amendments to the Citizenship Act and the alleged police brutality against the students swept campuses across India.
Since January 5, hundreds of students have come out in support against Jawaharlal Nehru University students. A masked mob attacked students and teachers at the university and injured at least 34 of them.
“The country is in turmoil,” Gavaskar said. “Some of our youngsters are out on the street when they should be in their classrooms. Some of them are ending up in hospitals for being out on the streets.”
The 70-year-old cricketer urged citizens to think themselves to be “simply Indians” first. “The majority of them are still in classrooms trying to forge their career and to build and take India forward,” he added. “We as a nation can go higher only when we are all together. When each one of us has to be simply Indian, first and foremost. That is what the game taught us.”
Gavaskar expressed confidence that India will overcome the current “turmoil”.
“We win when we pull together as one,” Gavaskar said. “India has overcome many crisis in the past and it will overcome this as well and emerge a stronger nation. We, as a nation, can go higher only if we are all together.”