Mahima Ghosh, a student of Presidency University, and (right) Tanvi Das, a student of Scottish Church College at the protest
Students in front of Calcutta University’s College Street campus before the start of the rally that ended at the MG Road crossing
Two hours is all it took for over 3,000 students to assemble at the gates of Jadavpur University and march in a show of solidarity with those under attack at Jamia Millia Islamia, Aligarh Muslim University and other institutes.
It was around noon when some students of JU decided to organise the rally and in no time students started streaming in from other institutions as well.
Students from Calcutta University, IIEST Shibpur, the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences and several other institutions walked a 3km stretch from JU Gate No. IV to the Lord’s crossing on Prince Anwar Shah Road and back. Slogans condemning “the brutal fascist attacks on students” filled the air.
North was no different. A chorus of songs on equality, claps and chants of “Jamiar rokto hobe nako byartho (Jamia’s blood will not go waste) could be heard as Presidency University students were joined by those from Aliah University, Scottish Church College and many others on College Street.
Scottish Church College students and others hold up posters in support of Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University students
“Jadavpur University has a tradition of allowing students to hold protests. We consider it their right. They held the protest in a peaceful manner,” VC Suranjan Das said.
College Street, too, witnessed a show of unity. “It was Jamia on Sunday, it could be us next. How can police enter a campus without permission? It’s an attempt to hush up democratic voices,” said Mahima Ghosh, a Presidency student.
The students were also joined by young professionals. “I stand against Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, which is a violation of our Constitution. But it can happen to anyone of us. If how I dress does not meet someone’s approval I might be asked to leave,” said Poulumi Majumdar a dentist.
The protests ignited memories of the Hok Kolorob march on September 19, 2014.
A student leader from the engineering and technology faculty of JU, who was part of the Hok Kolorob movement, said Monday’s rally was called at a very short notice but the response was spontaneous and heart-warming.
The rally was initially scheduled to be held around 1.30pm but as students from other campuses joined in, it was pushed back to 3pm so that more people could be included. “As soon as we hit upon the idea of the rally, news spread through word of mouth,” the student leader said.
The students assembled on the campus and were handed posters the JU students had drawn and written through the day.
“What happened at Jamia Millia on Sunday, JU had encountered five years ago. If these forces are not resisted, they will launch this assault on JU again,” said Pritha Bhattacharjee, an MSc first-year student at JU.
The protesters chanted slogans of “police joto maarbe, michhil toto baarbe (the more the police hit, the bigger the rally will be).
Two school students were also among those who marched in protest. “Police did not even spare the libraries at Jamia. We plan to join the university. What if we are subjected to similar attacks then? This cannot be tolerated in a democracy,” said one of the students.
Ayantika Choudhury, a third-year student of a college under CU, said it was the call for a collective protest that brought her to the rally. “If the students, irrespective of which campus they come from, don’t stand up to this assault, it will go unchecked,” she said.