Published: 24th November 2019
JNU protests: Odisha police interrogate Ambedkarite student group leader's family over fee hike protests
Suna also stood for the President's post in the JNUSU elections and has frequently spoke about about casteist issues
The Odisha police allegedly visited and interrogated the family of JNU student group, BAPSA's leader and JNUSU presidential candidate, Jitendra Suna. The police questioned his family on Saturday afternoon, Suna said. Suna has been actively participating in the JNU protests over the last one week.
BAPSA is an Ambedkarite Student organisation based on the philosophy of many leaders of the marginalised and Suna has been in the limelight for a while since the Vemula protests in 2016. He was also featured in the media during the recent JNU elections as he had faced many hardships growing up because he was from a marginalised community. A picture of Suna lying on the barricades between a sea of students and policemen during the large scale JNU protests also went viral. The student believes that the picture could be the reason why the police went knocking on his doors.
Suna said that the police entered his home at around 12 pm while his niece and father were at home. "They questioned them about where I study and how I am at my studies. They also enquired about how many members are there in my family and what they all do as well. They were there for about 15 minutes," Suna told us. The police also told Suna's family that they had recieved orders from "higher authorities" to come and check on his house.
"I'm not sure who these higher authorities are," Suna said. The student leader recalled that while he was standing for the elections, the district officer wanted to visit his home since he had been gaining a lot of attention from the media at that point. "But since I lost the elections, nobody went home but I hope they understand how vulnerable I and my family are especially now since I've been participating in the protests," the student said.
Suna's family is worried and has frequently been calling him since yesterday to find out if he's doing okay. "The region that I come from is also known for Naxalite activity so the police now want to brand people like me and that's why they are asking them about my background and what I'm studying," Suna said.
So far, Suna is the only JNU student whose house the police have visited. The Delhi police has not visited him or called on him so far, Suna confirmed.
Suna has also written articles and spoken up about casteism on campus and in the society as well and has been a strong voice on campus over the last few years.
BAPSA released a statement in support of Suna and claimed that this incident was nothing but sheer intimidation of Suna's family with an "intent to pressurise him and try to suppress his activism"
"The action is an attempt by the ruling BJP/RSS regime to intimidate and silence a resistance by the students from marginalised communities who are protesting against the fee hike, the violation of reservation policies and anti-student policies of the government," BAPSA said.
They also condemned the Odisha police's actions and called it 'highly repressive', "BAPSA condemns this authoritative and repressive actions of Odisha police and demands that they tender an apology and ensure that families of any protestors are not harassed or intimidated in any way, " they wrote.
Despite the protests happening only in Delhi, students are questioning why state police have visited a student's family home and if this will occur in other student homes as well? Or if only marginalised students are being targeted?