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Pay heed to the students

Pay heed to the students

As the student community comes to the forefront in solidarity with the students of Central University of Jamia Milia Islamia in New Delhi protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act, it is further reflective of the implications of this new law. Presuming that a law is made for the purpose of maintaining order in society, the magnitude of unrest that has ensued with this legislation betrays the extent to which this Act id biased and partisan. While an elected government is free to pursue its motives, overriding the concerns of numerous others in the process is unwarranted. The student's protest that gathered momentum in the Central University and the situation spiralled out of control when police reportedly used a heavy hand on the peacefully protesting students unprovoked. When students protest a move of the government, it is a matter to be heeded with some seriousness. Provoking them into violence and painting an anti-student picture is only another reason giving away how badly the situation has spiralled out of control. Students at Aligarh Muslim University, Patna University, Banaras Hindu University, IIT Bombay, Tata Institute of Social Science, a university in Lucknow, some universities in Hyderabad, joined the protest to express support for Jamia students and this must be taken in the right spirit as a democratic right that the students are exercising. Postponing examinations, announcing a vacation and asking students to vacate hostels can temporarily bring down the levels of unrest but a protest of this kind is not one to be just quelled and killed. The fact that schools in south Delhi and even NCR, away from the epicentre of the protests, have to be shut after the state government ordered to avoid any untoward situation is the dreary depiction of a compounded situation of law and order. The amended Citizenship Act is linked with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the widespread apprehension is that a nationwide NRC will target Muslims. Against this backdrop, students at Jamia University raised voice in protest and landed at the receiving end of the Delhi Police's heavy handedness on Sunday. Rendering any communal colours to this situation will only dilute the matter of prime concern right now. It has well been established that in matters of more concrete effects—effects that do not discriminate individuals on account of religion— the closure of discussion on grounds of alleged communal elements is only an escape from the challenging issues that must be addressed. The new law may be communal and divisive in essence but the reasons for protests against it are clearly those that are unifying people.

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