The educational institutions across the country are holding protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (hereafter CAA). In any mature democracy, the citizens have the right to protest peacefully against any act or political party, as long as they do not take law and order in their hands.
The educational institutions like Aligarh Muslims University (AMU), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Jamia Milia Islamia (hereafter JMI), Patna University, and many other institutions, especially those of liberal arts and humanities streams, held protest against the CAA, which seeks to correct the historical injustice to those born on the wrong side of history.
But, in few educational institutions, the protest was hijacked by the local community. The institutions especially in areas surrounded by the minority community, like Jamia Milia Islamia, suffered from the hijack of the protest, which turned violent after the involvement of the local community.
According to Delhi Police spokesperson Mandeep Singh Randhawa, “The protest was peaceful till 3:30 pm and Delhi Police was cooperating with the protestors. It was only after some anti-social elements entered the protest and set vehicles afire, that things turned ugly.”
“They hurled stones at building, damaged vehicles, putting lives at risk. It is then when the police mobilised all its resources to get the situation under control,” he added.
JMI is located in Jamia Nagar area of Southeast Delhi, the locality is dominated by the minority community, which got involved after the students stepped outside the university during the protest. The protesters set three buses and two bikes on fire, damaged many vehicles parked on road, and pelted stones at Delhi Police, which was deployed to control the mob.
The Delhi Police had to enter the university to control the situation, and this led to severe criticism from the liberal community, which considers University a sacred space where the police should not enter. A group of students from JNU, Jamia, and Delhi University gathered outside Delhi Police Headquarters in ITO to protest against police entry to the university. The teachers, students, and left-liberal media establishment also voiced dissent against the police entry in the university.
But, if the students and university administration allow the ‘outsiders’ to enter the university, the law enforcement agencies would be forced to do the same.
Even if unlawful activities are being carried out in the university, like the case of bomb making in Allahabad University or Naxalism in Jadavpur University, the police would be forced to enter the university to control the situation.
The students of the university corroborated the claim that, the involvement of local community turned the protest violent. “We had organised a silent protest inside the campus. Some locals from nearby Shaheen Bagh and Batla House area gathered outside the campus and started arsoning. To chase them away, police entered the university campus and used tear gas shells and rubber bullets on students,” said Syed Harris, a Jamia student, as per a report by ThePrint.
According to Delhi Police, local miscreants got mixed up with the students, making it difficult for the police officials to segregate between them. In the police action, some students also got injured, as the police tried to control the situation.
The university spaces are sacred; no one could argue against it, but if the students and university administration allow the local miscreants to enter the university, the police would have to enter in the university space to control them. Therefore, if the students and university administration wants the space to remain sacred, they must not allow anti-social elements and anti-social activities inside the university.