Mumbai (The Hindu): Thousands gather to watch Kanhaiya Kumar and other student leaders of various universities talk at a rally.
Comparing the RSS and the BJP to the colonial British government, Richa Singh, president of the Allahabad Students Union, on Saturday said, “Mumbai was the place where in 1942 the British were told to ‘Quit India’. Today I’m telling the RSS and the BJP to Quit India!”
Ms Singh was among the five student leaders who addressed a massive six-hour rally here, organised by students and youth organisations of the city. Kanhaiya Kumar, president of the JNU students’ union, said, “While there may not be any opposition to the government in Parliament, we have ensured that it faces opposition on the streets.”
All the student leaders spoke against the discrimination perpetuated by the State against minorities and weaker sections of society, and were vociferous in their criticism of the Central government. Stressing the need to come together for a common cause, Harikrishnan Nachimuthu of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) Students Union, said, “We need to have a common programme towards which all students’ unions can work, while having the ability to discuss and criticise each other’s differences.” Ms Singh said, “We are educated and we are agitating, but we need to organise.”
A National Students Convention is scheduled for May 5, Mr Kumar said. “At the convention we will create a draft of the Rohith Act and pass it in a student parliament. After which we shall fight to get it passed by our national Parliament,” he said. “One of our main aims as a collective is to rid Indian campuses and society of Brahminism and Manuwadi and enact the Rohith Act,” he added.
The student leaders highlighted the need to go beyond the confines of the campus and reach out to the masses. “We are looking at a very small representation of our society,” said Shehla Rashid of the JNUSU. “There are several universities that don’t have unions and students are harassed if they try to set up one,” she added.
“Without a massive movement we cannot achieve our goals,” said Zuhail KP, president of the Hyderabad Central University (HCU) students’ union. Zuhail said, “We have been taking initiatives to raise the consciousness among the masses. We had held a bus rally that passed through every district in Telangana and we spoke at over 50 public places. We believe that people should organise locally and be part of the larger movement.”
The rally was attended by several academicians and activists. Illina Sen, an activist, and wife of Dr Binayak Sen, said, “There is a coming together of movements across the board to fight a common enemy and it is the need of the hour for such collectives.”
Justice Kolse Patil, Anand Patwardhan, Jayant Pawar, Irfan Engineer, and Teesta Setalvad also addressed the rally. “We are the biggest democracy in the world and our fight is to uphold it,” Mr Kumar said.
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