‘What Are You Fearing?’ Detained AISA Students During DU Centenary Question Modi

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi was addressing Delhi University's centenary celebrations, a few kilometres away Anjali and Abhigyan, AISA activists, were held up inside their house without any warrant.

Anjali and Abhigyan detained at their flat during DU centenary celebration

It was 8:30 am on Friday when Abhigyan stepped out of his home in Kalyan Vihar to run a few errands. Time ticked away, but he did not return. His friend, Anjali as called him, and she got to know that Abhigyan was caught off the guard by Delhi Police outside his colony near the Delhi University campus. 

Prior to that, the All India Students Association's (AISA) Delhi president and an M.A. first-year student Abhigyan was alerted by his friends from Vijay Nagar locality that police were looking for them. But Abhigyan and Anjali thought they were safe unless they leave their flats. 

However, at 9:30 am, about five to six police came to lock Anjali and Abhigyan’s flat. It was the same morning when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was scheduled to address the centenary ceremony of Delhi University's centenary celebrations as the chief guest. Attendance was made compulsory across several colleges, including Hindu College, affiliated with the central university. 

Notably, no black dress was allowed. Yet, a few kilometres away Anjali and Abhigyan, student activists, were held up inside their house without any warrant.

“We were told that our names have been floated on a list that was called ‘Circle of Suspicion’. The police told us that we might create a ruckus and violate the discipline of the institution as we are ‘suspicious people’. We might be a threat to the safety of the convoy. Are we criminals? We do not know what that means but it’s surprising how a Prime Minister of a nation feels scared of students,” tells Anjali, AISA DU Secretary and an M.A. first-year student.


Ahead of the event, a poster, ‘Modi is coming to our campus’, showed up on the walls of the University with a few questions posed for the prime minister. Speaking with Outlook, she says, “Well, we just wanted to ask a few questions to the prime minister, who is travelling to the United States, and Egypt, and going places talking big about the country’s development and democracy in DNA."

Abhigyan asks what ‘safety’ of the Prime Minister is being threatened and by whom? “Is he scared that people will ask him why the unemployment rate has fallen below 8.1 per cent or why chapters on Ambedkar are being deleted?” he asks.

Anjali and Abhigyan were the only people, who were put under house arrest while Modi delivered his speech at the campus, where he asserted that “those with knowledge are happy and strong”.

The duo, too, wanted to attend the event and raise a few pertinent questions because that falls under a person’s fundamental rights. “Our courses are being diluted, our fees are being drastically hiked every year, fellowships are being cut down and most importantly, secularism is under attack. All we thought was that we would at least have the space to go and ask these questions to the authority,” she says.

Following the detention, which lasted for nearly five hours, a letter was written to the Model Town Police Station regarding the illegal detention of Anjali and Abhigyan. However, a senior Delhi Police officer said no student was detained. Images, that went viral, showed the police personnel seated in the hallway of the student’s house.


The letter written to the Model Town Police on the illegal detention

A heavy police deployment was ordered in nearby localities opening to the campus. Instead of helping the situation, college administrations were accused of putting a strict code of conduct.

Other student activists have also allegedly been stopped from attending the event at the campus. But they were made to watch the live telecast of Modi’s address in their respective colleges. And many, who have been allowed inside, were not allowed to leave the venue for hours on end, allege the AISA activists.

“Perhaps, all of these were done because the administration wants to protect the ruling government from taking accountability. Or to paint a rosy picture that the PM's visit was attended in big numbers. But ‘forced’, if we may say,” they state.

Students say that they are witnessing a crackdown on spaces of dissent and brutal attacks on both progressive teachers and students. “This regime is hellbent on crushing critical thinking, and questioning, through policies like NEP 2020,” says Anjali.

Referring to the proposals to remove studies on Ambedkar, Allama Iqbal, caste and gender from the syllabus, and introduce Veer Savarkar, Abhigyan and Anjali add, “Syllabus is one of the most calculated tools used by the Sangh brigade to alter and distort history and facts, and to propagate their idea of one nation, one language, one religion. Whenever there is a protest on campus, it is met with brutal violence. The nexus of the BJP, police, administration and ABVP are trying to curb all forms of democratic dialogue in our campuses.”