Published: 12th December 2019
This is our fight too: How AMU's women students are protesting against CAB despite police action
The students of the women's college of AMU have also been protesting in their campus despite heavy barricading. The men have written exams and continued protesting
The students of Aligarh Muslim University will enter their classrooms today and write their exams. And just as they hand in their answer sheets, they will walk outside, lift up their placards and join in chorus with the rest of their colleagues — raising slogans against the Citizenship Amendment Bill. The students launched a hunger strike on December 10 but called it off last evening after the Rajya Sabha passed the Bill despite fierce opposition from different parts of the country, especially the student community.
Since the students have to write their exams today, they have decided to resume the protests from 3 pm, however, the students will take turns and there will still be a gathering on campus throughout the day. The students have been organising talks from important speakers for the last two days — today, the campus has invited Yogendra Yadav and Dr Kafeel Khan to address them.
However, the students have heard that the Aligarh District Magistrate has warned of action if the students don't resume exams-sans-protest the next day. "We have heard that they will bring the police on campus but we won't back down no matter what happens. We are figuring out what to do, We don't have any formal plans yet," one of the students spearheading the protest said.
'CAB will affect women too. This is our protest'
The students of the women's college of AMU have also been protesting in their campus despite heavy barricading. The women students are only allowed an 'outing' only three days a week and only after they seek permission. But despite seeking permission, the students were not allowed to go out of the campus. "But the provost said that she would call the police if we attempted to leave the campus. All we wanted to do was go to the main campus where the male students are protesting," a student said.
The student said that at least 1000 students were in support of the protest and while they are also writing exams, they will resume their protests at 3 pm and will attempt to make it out of their campus and into the main campus. They are aware that they could be stopped by the police, but will still be attempting it, "Why should only the boys be allowed to protest? The CAB is going to affect us women too, so we have to lead this protest to protect our community. And we are a peaceful movement and if we are attacked on the streets then it is a blot on our constitution because what we are doing is our fundamental right and duty," she said.
When asked why it was as important for women to participate in the struggle, the student said that they had previously tried to get more leadership on campus but had failed. "This is also our way of reclaiming our presence in the main campus. Nobody can tell us what we can and cannot do. The male students can go on an outing 24 hours a day, seven days a week but we have to seek permission for everything. So when something like CAB is passed it means that it is going to affect us as a community and so at a time, like this it is important to reclaim our space in the struggle," she said.
Despite the restrictions, the women students will march to the main campus to listen to Yogendra Yadav and Dr Kafeel Khan speak, "We hope we make it this time, Inshallah," she said.
A responsibility, more than anything else
Another student who said he cannot 'afford' to tell us his name said that AMU being the apex educational institution has the responsibility to take on this protest, "The nature of this Bill is Islamaphobic. We are human and this Bill dehumanises us. All educational institutions and Islamic institutions must stand against the Bill," a protester said. When asked if the students fear police brutality like the kind that has been unleashed on students the last few weeks is causing any fear among them, they said, "Yes, of course, there is fear. In fact, those who are standing against this Bill in protest have the heart of a lion. Those who are on the streets are courageous people because we already have FIRs in our name. They are saying they will soon name the 700 unnamed people in the FIR soon, so it is scary," he added.
Though the students are in fear of attacks, they said they would discuss in their general body meeting scheduled to be held today about what their next steps should be. Through a statement, the students also showed solidarity with the protesters in Assam, "This day is an unpleasant one in the history of India. The students of the varsity condemn what we see to be a dear violation of the law and fear the repercussions of the government's Panglossian ideas of pan-Indian prosperity. We will continue to exercise our constitutional right to protest until the act is reconsidered and the Bill is revoked," they said.