Joining the growing chorus of voices against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, proposed NRC and crackdown on protesting students in India, the Students Union of the University of Manchester on Monday issued a statement of solidarity with anti-CAA protesters and students.
The statement termed the CAA and NRC as a "pair of legal instruments that threaten to disenfranchise millions of undocumented Indians, especially Indian Muslims and other disadvantaged groups" and condemned the "undemocratic and unconstitutional measures" aimed at quelling dissent against these, especially in universities like Jamia Millia Islamia, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Aligarh Muslim University.
"Spontaneous protests against the NRC and CAA have erupted across India, especially led by students in university campuses. The government's response to civil and democratic protests has been to unleash violence and terror. Multiple reports have documented the use of riot gear, tear gas, batons and live ammunition. This state-sanctioned terror has now entered universities " notably, JMI, AMU and JNU. Unarmed student protesters have been attacked severely: their bones broken, their heads split open. To add insult to injury, police reports have been filed against the victims while the perpetrators " often non-state actors enjoying implicit political patronage " have gone scott-free," said the statement.
Protests against the CAA and the proposed NRC had taken a violent turn in Jamia and AMU, when the police had entered the university campuses on 15 December. Several students and teachers had been injured in the ensuing violence, sparking protests across the country.
Lashing out against the "Islamophobic violence" which, it claims, has become a "harsh reality of the Modi regime", the Students Union of the University of Manchester called upon the government to "unequivocally repeal the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the NRC" and seeks assurance that no such legislation will be introduced in the future.
It also demanded an independent inquiry into violence on university campuses, especially that perpetrated by "non-state actors" and urged the government to respect people's right to protest and express their dissent, both online and offline.
Lastly, it called upon the government to "repeal the brazenly used Section 144 across India, restore internet and telecommunication services to all areas, and prevent further communications blockade everywhere".
The statement also pointed out the high unemployment and falling economic growth rate as problems facing the country and observes that the internet shutdown in Kashmir is the "longest in the history of any democracy".
"Fascism does not announce its arrival. It creeps on us riding the coattails of indifference and silent complicity. At extraordinary times like these, it becomes doubly important to stand up and be heard, to hold truth to power, to hold the government accountable to its excesses " in other words, to defend democracy," it stated.
With this, the Students Union of the University of Manchester joined London universities like Oxford, and American varsities like Harvard and MIT, which saw demonstrations against the amended citizenship law which intends to fast-track citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Over 400 students from different US universities had in December issued a joint statement expressing solidarity with Jamia and AMU students.