NEW DELHI: Scores of students collected at the New Academic Block of Hindu College, University of Delhi on January 20 to protest against the controversial CAA and NRC. The demonstration was addressed by many students belonging to Kashmir and Assam, urging the student body to continue their “fight” in solidarity with the states they come from.

“A man from my tribe died in a detection camp,” said a first year Philosophy student of Hindu College who wished to remain anonymous. A resident of Sonipur district in Assam, he said, “They don’t care about minorities, they don’t give a damn. How can a poor man give papers, in a state where he constantly has to shift homes because of annual floods that nobody talks about, and he loses everything in this moving?”

“Coming to Delhi is a big dream for people in my tribe. And I’m using my voice of privilege to speak up for my people. This is a fight for everyone, whether you’re a Muslim or Hindu, from Assam or not. All of us are brothers and sisters. Please keep fighting,” he stated.

Organized by no single body and termed “a collective effort of all the participating students”, the protest saw sloganeering and chanting, eventually leading to a march around the campus, culminating at the Academic Block. By this time, members of the administration along with the principal, Anju Srivastava, had gathered in the area amidst police presence and were calling for students to disassemble, citing disruption of classes.

“In the same turn of events, PK Vijayan sir (from the English Department) was called to talk to the crowd, seeing which the principal explicitly told him not to indulge and help her disperse the crowd. He cited his freedom to assemble as well as attributed the same to the protesting students,” stated Himanshu Singh, a second year English student of Hindu College. “She (the principal) said that Delhi Police was there to protect the students. Taking a firm stance, PK sir negotiated for the meeting to carry on in the Ibtida Lawns,” Singh added.

The administration reportedly granted permission for a meeting against the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits- held by ABVP Hindu College within college premises- and denied the same when an application to hold a Preamble Reading was presented.

Ibtida Lawns saw the assembled crowd raise placards and slogans against the violence inflicted by police on college campuses and the “means of repression” used by the government across the country. Members of the faculty were invited to address the students.

“They thought it was going to become a Hindu-vs-Muslim conflict, but it’s clearly become a people-vs-government conflict,” said Ratan Lal, a teacher from the History Department. “If you’re an Ambedkarite, you need to study to become one. The same goes for whether you’re a Gandhian or a Marxist. But the only thing you don’t need to study to become is a Bhakt apparently,” Lal told The Citizen.

“You’re hearing only one side of the story. I wasn’t able to talk to my family for months,” said Ameera Sajad, a resident of Srinagar and a first year Political Science student. “Kashmiris who didn’t have cash were kicked out of their PGs. 4000 students were taken to Tihar jail and different parts of the country.”

“The government has used any means necessary to repress any form of dissent. I am afraid to say it but I will do so: Kashmir is not an integral part of India, and it won’t be until they gain the right to self-determination. The day that happens, I will be the first one to proudly call Kashmir a part of India,” Sajad told The Citizen.

Sreejaya Rajuru, a first year Philosophy student stated, “The NRC totally violates the principle of the Assam Accords. This religious discrimination is unfounded. Tripura lost its language, and Assam is on the verge of doing so. Please join our home in its struggle.”

Another student addressed the crowd, saying, “We’re the only college in the country which has a parliament. And just like we don’t have good leaders for the country, we don’t have good leaders here who don’t stand with us in solidarity.”

The speeches to the gathering, by students and faculty members, were followed by a reading of the Preamble in the presence of police officers who had surrounded the small crowd of protestors. The protest was concluded soon after and the crowd dispersed.

Benna Fatima, a student and member of the Hindu College Progressive Front told The Citizen, “This wasn’t organized by any student body. It was simply all the students who had come together today. It felt like Hindu College as a single community had gathered today to assert their will. To show that we won’t let the country be divided on ethnic and religious grounds.”