Saturday, Jul 02, 2022

Students From 19 US Universities, Including Harvard, Extend Solidarity To Jamia, AMU After 'Police Violence'

More than 400 students and alumni of Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Stanford and Tufts and other universities stood in solidarity with Jamia and AMU students.

Police take away a student after clashes following protests over Citizenship Amendment Act, on the campus of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), in Aligarh. PTI Photo

Over 400 students and alumni of 19 universities across the United States, including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Stanford and Tufts on Tuesday extended support to students of Jamia Millia Islamia University and at Aligarh Muslim University condemning the "brutal police violence" against them.

In a statement, the students, majority of them Indians, said, "We demand the cessation of violence by the police and their complete withdrawal from university premises followed by a thorough and independent investigation into the blatant abuse of power by the police at the university premises."

They also demanded student protestors be allowed to continue their peaceful demonstrations, "as guaranteed under the Constitution of India".

"Reports and accounts by journalists, students, lawyers, and activists (including credible information shared online) reveal horrific and excessive use of force by police and paramilitary against students," the statement said.

The students and alumni also condemned the use of violence against protestors in Assam resulting in the death of five people.

They also expressed concern about the statement of the Chief Justice of India "terming these protests as ‘riots’" and characterising the situation as a law and order problem for the police to handle while not recognising the "violation of the rights of protestors".

"We call on the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Amit Shah, to immediately take these necessary steps to curb police brutality, or resign," they said. 

The signatories included students from the South Asian Law Students Association of Harvard Law School and the Fletcher Progressive Initiative of Tufts Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Meanwhile,  a group of Indian law students from the Netherlands, United States, Canada and United Kingdom released a statement condemning the passing of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 and the "violent response by state authorities to peaceful protests".

The statement was signed by close to 700 people, most of them Indian overseas students.

Condemning the December 15 incident when the police entered Jamia Millia Islamia campus to allegedly nab miscreants, the students said, "We reject such attempts to stifle dissent. As advocates of democracy, we condemn using violence as a proxy for law enforcement and support the call for accountability of those responsible."

The university authority has said that 200 people were injured in police action on December 15 and most of them were students. 

Criticising the Citizenship Amendment Act, against which protests are taking place across India, the statement said: "Firstly, it selects illegal migrants who are entitled to citizenship benefits on the basis of religion, which is in itself impermissible. Secondly, the Act claims to protect minorities belonging to the listed countries from persecution on grounds of religion. However, this justification does not fully address why the Act excludes groups such as Ahmadiyyas and Shias who are at the receiving end of majoritarian violence in Pakistan or atheists who are persecuted in Bangladesh."