Published: 16th January 2020
Gujarat Vidyapith students spin charkhas to protest police interference during anti-CAA protest
Students had decided to fly kites carrying anti-CAA/NRC slogans on the occasion of Uttarayan or Makar Sankranti on January 14 when police allegedly entered the university’s campus without permission
The country has seen some of the most peaceful and interesting protests by students and the people against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the Natinal Register of Citizens in the past few months. However, the way in which the students at Gujarat Vidyapith in Ahmedabad protested on Thursday would definitely make it to the list (if there was one) of extraordinary protests India has seen in the past decade. Students of Gujarat Vidyapith, founded by Mahatma Gandhi, were protesting by spinning charkhas in front of the vice-chancellor's office demanding issuance of statement on why police were allowed to enter campus to disrupt an anti CAA kite-flying event on January 14.
"Spinning charkha is also a way of protest at this university that Gandhi founded to prepare students for civil disobedience. Today, the varsity authority suppresses students by calling cops inside campus. We want all Gandhians to join us and protest," students protesting at the university said.
Gandhiji hote toh yehi karte (Mahatma Gandhi would have done the same if he were alive)
Dharam Hadwani, who is pursuing his Masters in Journalism at the Vidyapith said that they have protesting since 12 noon and will carry on till 6.30 pm on campus. "We want answers from the administration. We have been calling people from the administration but no one has received our calls. Two days have passed since then but we haven't received a response yet. VC was on leave at that time but now he's back. We will follow Gandhian methods to protest and not back down until they give us answers," added Dharam.
The students had decided to fly kites carrying anti-CAA and anti-NRC messages on the occasion of Uttarayan (Makar Sankranti) on January 14 when police entered the university’s campus, students alleged. Dharam, who was present on campus on that day said that even before the students could go to the nearby ground to fly the kites, police entered the campus and began asking for ID cards. "We could see at least 4-5 police vehicles both near the front and the back gate. We asked them why should we give you our IDs, we will give it our college authorities, security guards, do you have permission to come here on campus and ask? Who gave you permission? They said that they received an order from the administration, so we asked if they have a written order, but they didn't have one. In turn, they told us 'We are here to maintain law and order. What if violence breaks out here?'," explains Dharam.
Even after the intervention, the students went on with their programme later that day and flew some of the kites donning the anti-CAA slogans.
Utpal Anish, a PhD scholar at the varsity said that the students want the administration to file a complaint if the police came in without permission on January 14, but till then they will continue the charkha protest.
"Why would you call the police when students are peacefully protesting? Tushar Arun Gandhi, the great-grandson of Gandhiji is protesting, even some of our trustees, are coming to us and encouraging us to peacefully put across our views about the CAA/NRC on campus, then why police needs to be there when we were merely flying kites with slogans written on it?" asks Anish.
Anish added that a few teachers showed their solidarity as well. But when they asked the teachers why they had not put out an official statement, the teachers didn't have a response. "The fear is that the administration might take action against them for siding with protestors, they haven't said anything. So, we are fighting for their freedom of speech as well. I want to ask the college authorities that do we need to ask for permission for flying kites as well now? The January 14 incident is a reflection of the fact that the state is turning into one controlled by the police, they have all the power," he concludes.