The National University of Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS), situated in the quiet Manalimukku on the outskirts of Kochi, thundered with chants of Azadi on Wednesday. Close to 150 students, in a campus of 450, marched around the campus with roaring rallying cries against the unconstitutional Citizenship Amendment Act, National Register for Citizens, National Population Register, the state’s unlawful and violent actions against the protesters, and the fascist government. This was perhaps the first political protest held by a National Law University (NLU) in this regard.
Preceding the protest, a significant number of students boycotted classes in response to the call by JNUSU President Aishe Ghosh, who was assaulted by ABVP members, against the CAA-NRC-NPR, state-sponsored violence in Universities, fee hikes and the new National Education Policy. This was supported by the Student Council.
Language is no bar in a revolution. The protesters, almost all dressed in black, chanted slogans and sang songs of revolution in multiple languages – Malayalam, English, Hindi and Tamil. From “Rama rama paadiyal rama rajyam aagumo, palli onnu policha hindu rashtram aagumo” (chanting ‘Ram Ram’ will not turn this into a Ram Rajya, demolishing a mosque will not turn this into a Hindu Rashtra) to “Naanga enna Savarkara? Naanga Tipu Sultan da. Naanga ellam Periyar. Naanga ellam Ambedkar” (are we Savarkar to let this happen? No, we are Tipu Sultan. We are Periyar. We are Ambedkar) to “Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamare dil mein hai“(the desire for revolution is in our hearts), the streets of NUALS were filled with songs of hope, inclusivity and resistance. The campus had never been that alive!
Close to 150 students, in a campus of 450, marched around the campus with roaring rallying cries against the unconstitutional CAA, NRC, NPR, the state’s unlawful and violent actions against the protesters, and the fascist government.
This was followed by an open session where all the protesters sat in a large circle and took turns speaking about the current fascist government, its multiple acts of violence against its own people, the fear it has caused, the need for everyone to care for one another and show compassion and kindness, and the power of hope. Songs expressing the pain and violence of being forced out of your own home and the beauty of peace were also sung.
The B. R. Ambedkar Study Circle, an organisation of like-minded NUALS students, which is also the only political body on campus, organised the protest. NUALS has a largely apolitical atmosphere and the BRASC is perhaps the only organisation that has relentlessly tried to change that by holding political discussions and related events every week.
Songs expressing the pain and violence of being forced out of your own home and the beauty of peace were also sung.
“An authoritarian and undemocratic space is created in campuses when there is an absence of politics and that’s not healthy. The current capitalist system promotes autonomous colleges and doesn’t want political discourse and activities in colleges for the reason that they don’t want young minds to think about the status of affairs. They don’t want questions to be raised and shun criticism. Many asked us what we were protesting in college and what change that would bring to CAA. It has come to a point that even the thought of protest has become radical and abnormal. For the same reason, when we hosted this protest on behalf of the BRASC, we made it a point to use the photos of Mahatma Gandhi to Bhagat Singh and Birsa Munda to EMS. Because that is the legacy of the country and their battles and struggles need to be remembered. We like to put it out there that everything that we have achieved so far was not “granted” to us by the then autocrats, but fought by us,” said Anu Swaraj, former President of the BRASC.
The most beautiful part of the day perhaps was towards the end of the march when a hard copy of the Citizenship Amendment Act was burnt against the background of the night sky while everyone zealously sang, “Kadal rendai pilaratte, boomi kori tharikatte, CAA kathatte” (let the sea part into two, let the earth tremble in fear, let the CAA burn).