As students, alumni and faculty members of the University of York, UK, we stand in solidarity with all students in India who are engaged in protests against the discriminatory Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019. We believe that the right to dissent, protest and demonstrate are fundamental rights integral to all democracies. Articles 19 (1) (a) and 19 (1) (b) of the Indian Constitution explicitly state that the right to protest is a fundamental right. Such a right is safeguarded in international human rights conventions as well.
The peaceful and non-violent demonstrations by students have been met with extraordinary police violence against students of Jamia Milia Islamia, Aligarh Muslim University and other universities across India with recent reports from established media sources indicating that police and paramilitary forces entered university campuses and hostels by force and brutally attacked students. As a consequence, hundreds of students have been injured, some very seriously. Such police action contravenes both the Constitution of India as well as international human rights laws. We call for an immediate end to state-led violence and for proper action to be taken against the perpetrators of it.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, passed by the Indian Parliament on December 12, 2019, accords the right to religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan in acquiring Indian citizenship. By the same token, it directly excludes Muslims from the process. Combined with the expanding reach of the National Register of Citizens, this amounts to a virtual denial of citizenship based on religion and represents a complete negation of the ideals of equality and secularism that are an essential part of the Constitution of India. We join students and citizens all across India in support of their demand that this immoral law be abrogated at the earliest.
Rashmi Guha Ray