“As a woman, as student, as an Indian, today in my graduation I reject the Gold medal that is awarded to me in solidarity with all the students and public of India who are fighting against CAA and NRC in India. This is my way of showing the world what education means to us youth, not medals and certificates but learning the message of unity, peace and standing up against injustice, fascism and bigotry,” wrote Rabeeha, a 2018 batch student of mass communication from Pondicherry University on her social media handle.
Rabeeha Abdurehim, a student of Mass Communication from Pondicherry University was asked to leave the convocation hall for wearing a ‘hijab’ when the president, Mr. Ramnath Kovind entered for the ceremony. She was allowed entry only after president left and was conferred with her degree, but she rejected the gold medal to protest against the insult that was conferred on her and in solidarity with the students protesting against CAA and NRC across the country. Rabeeha was asked to wait outside and to be seated outside by the senior superintendent of police, as told by Rabeeha to The Wire.
Rabeeha Abdurehim, a student of Mass Communication from Pondicherry University was asked to leave the convocation hall for wearing a ‘hijab’ when the president, Mr. Ramnath Kovind entered for the ceremony.
When she walked to the stage, she got her certificate and refused the gold medal addressing the assembled audience, narrating what had happened to her. Rightly so, who ordered the exclusion of a student from her own convocation where 100s of student are also getting their degrees?
As Rabeeha said, “I know exactly why I was called outside,” in a video that is now being widely shared on social media, fear of authorities or those in power to suppress student voices is evident. However, as students across the country and the world are protesting, issuing statements against CAA/NRC and coming in solidarity, a wave of the movement is visible. The student council of Pondicherry University had called to boycott the convocation ceremony and one more student, Kartika Kurup, had also boycotted the convocation and her gold medal for M.Sc. in Electronic Media showing solidarity and refusing to share the stage with the President.
Rahul Alwal, senior superintendent of police in charge of Pondicherry, told The Wire that he was not aware of the incident. “I was part of the law and order arrangements, and was not aware of what was happening inside. I was handling routes, VIP etc. We were generally keeping tab on any kind of security threat but certainly not from the students side,” pointing towards no order for removal of students.
Many students from BHU (Banaras Hindu University) refused to accept degrees in protest against CAA and arrest of students of BHU in Varanasi last week. In Jadavpur University, Debsmita Chowdhury ripped the copy of legislation at her convocation saying, “Hum kaagaz nahi dikhayenge!”
The CPI(M) MP from Madurai, S. Venkatesan has written a letter addressed to President Kovind to “reach out to Rabeeha and express concern over the incident.” In his letter he has said, “The singling out of Rabeeha is a direct fall out of the Prime Minister’s recent remarks that ‘those inciting violence can be identified by their clothes.’ It is sad that the PM of this country could speak something so blatantly insensitive, which leads to bright, young students like Rabeeha – who symbolise the hope and future of this country – being victimised for what they wear,” demanding the gold medal is personally handed over to Rabeeha.
“Such a noble gesture on your part will send positive and encouraging signals to not just Rabeeha but to the entire student community of this country,” said Mr.Venkatesan.
Many students from Banaras Hindu University (BHU) refused to accept degrees in protest against CAA and arrest of students of BHU in Varanasi last week. In Jadavpur University, Debsmita Chowdhury ripped the copy of legislation at her convocation saying, “Hum kaagaz nahi dikhayenge!” (We will not show the papers) and shouted, “Inquilab Zindabaad!” Jadavpur University students also refused entry of West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankar to the convocation ceremony.
A German exchange student from IIT Madras, Jacob Lindenthal was deported by the immigration department because he participated in an anti-CAA protest. Jacob wrote on his Facebook profile,
“My deep respect goes to all of you who carry the protests against CAA and NRC across India and across the world! I also wanted to bow down in front of those who cannot show their concerns about on going political developments openly because their existences would be threatened but who still find their ways to support those who are showing their faces.“
Across the country students, officials, intellectuals are registering their protest and resistance, standing up in solidarity in whatever way they can. There are different ways of protests, each and every person has their own way to protest whether on streets or through minimal ways in their day to day lives. Not only each step counts but is registered as a form of resilience in history.
Featured Image Source: National Herald