Amidst a slew of protests being staged across varsities throughout the nation, the students of Army Institute of Law (AIL) sat through the night on the 15th October to protest against the arbitrary functioning of the College administration and the draconian rules in the Code of Conduct.
The college is affiliated with the Punjab University, and is situated in Mohali, Chandigarh. It came to the highlight when the student community disillusioned by the administration after their constant ignorance and inability to respond to a petition filed ten days ago, took to a night long protest. The students sat outside the academic block and were not addressed even once by the administration. As per our sources, the authorities were present inside the campus and chose to not interact with the students. Eight demands were put forward by the students through a petition, the most important ones being:
- Provision for a democratically elected student body.
- Lifting restriction on student movement beyond 11pm for both male and female students.
- Inquiry into conduct of female warden who has been alleged for showing sexist behavior.
- Repealing arbitrary provisions in the code of conduct
- Redressal of complaints related to lack of proper services in mess and cafeteria.
Past few months have seen student protests that have caught the attention of the nation. Law Universities, particularly, have seen students raising their voices for causes similar to ones in AIL. For instance, India’s topmost law institute, NLSIU Bangalore saw it’s students collectivise against the actions of the VC. Similarly, students of NLU-Delhi also protested against student discrimination earlier in the year.
Apart from these, recently the students of Jamia Milia Islamia were served show-cause notices for “protesting peacefully” on October 5. They were protesting against Israeli participation in an international conference titled Global Health Zenith Confluence 2019 on Medical Infrastructure Planning.
Anas Jamal, a student of B.A Turkish, who has been served a show cause notice was at a loss of making sense of the events. He said, “The incident took place on October 5. We organised a peaceful protest at Ansari Auditorium and later we dispersed. The proctor was there and asked us the reason behind the gathering. We explained to him that allowing participation of such a country will be equivalent to whitewashing Israel’s violation of Palestinian human rights and international law.”
The Jamia Incident received sharp criticism from Ramon Magsaysay award winning journalist Ravish Kumar. He said that universities should award extra marks to those students who actively participate protests throughout the year and not expel them. He believes that is the only way of preserving and protecting democracy in universities and the country. Taking a dig at the proctor, he said that Chancellors should come out and participate in some protests themselves to inspire the students rather than curbing their voices.
In another disturbing incident in Maharashtra, a college of the Mahatma Gandhi International Hindi University, based in Wardha, expelled six students citing Model Code of Conduct (MCC). The DM of the district clarified that the university doesn’t have the power to apply MCC. The students had written to PM Narendra Modi over certain social problems in society. What makes the action taken by the administration dubious is the fact that all six students belong to the backward or scheduled castes. The incident also brings back the memories of the Rohith Vemula, a dalit student from Hyderabad University who took his life after harassment by the hostel authorities.
All these incidents have one thing in common. The administration has shown apathy towards the cause of the students. And when the students have collectivized to demonstrate peacefully, it has cited draconian and senseless rules to either expel the students or charge them with disciplinary misconduct. College and University authorities have been trying their best to curtail the voices of dissent coming from the students. The Right to Protest peacefully is being violated time and again by using dictatorial disciplinary regulations. Students across the country need to stand up for their counterparts, irrespective of their regional or political differences. Only when a DU student will stand in support of the students of AIL or Jamia and vice versa will the authorities acknowledge the rights of students to protest and also address their grievances.