JNC students protest after face-off with BJP workers

JNC students protest after face-off with BJP workers

JNC students protest against alleged harassment by BJP workers in Bengaluru on Thursday. DH Photo/S K Dinesh

A day after a heated verbal duel with a few BJP workers, students of Jyoti Nivas College (JNC) gathered outside the college in Koramangala on Thursday afternoon in a show of solidarity.

A group of 150 students who gathered a short distance away from the college gates at 12 noon on Thursday, held a silent protest with placards, opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the National Registry of Citizens (NRC). Among these was a sign which declared: “Don’t force your opinion on us!”

Asked why they were protesting, a student told DH: “Today, we are not protesting against the CAA or the NRC. We are here against the BJP men who picked up a quarrel and taunted us for no reason on Wednesday. We are protesting for our basic rights.”

The student said many of her college mates, including those who the BJP men took on, were under the age of 18.

Later, about 300 students entered the campus and sat in silent protest from 1.30 pm to 2.30 pm demanding that their voices and rights be respected. 

The students’ protest on Thursday was a result of a confrontation with a group of BJP workers on Wednesday, which, the students said left them traumatised. They said they were forced to extend support to the CAA as they were coming out of the college. 

While the students alleged that the men were forcing them to sign and register support for CAA, Mohan Kumar, a BJP worker and who was present during the altercation categorically denied that he and his colleagues tried to intimidate anybody.

“We happened to be near JNC collecting signatures in support of CAA in keeping with the BJP’s decision to mobilise support in favour of the Act. We were not forcing anybody to sign our petition. Things escalated when several students began to hurl abuses and unparliamentary words at us,” Kumar, a resident of nearby Ejipura said.

He added that the BJP men lost their temper when the students brought out a placard against CAA and after they claimed that the JNC administration was against the Act. “The situation was defused after police arrived and took stock of the situation,” Kumar added.

In a video of the incident captured by a student and which went viral, the men, who were later identified as supporters of local party leader M M Govindaraj, also hung a poster “India Supports CAA” on the college wall. 

In a memorandum submitted to the President of India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Governor of Karnataka, the Archbishop of Bangalore, Rev Peter Machado called on the government to grant citizenship to illegal immigrants not on the basis of religion but on the merit of each individual case.

“Regarding the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, there is a danger that there could be a polarisation of our people along religious lines, which is very harmful to the country. Religion should never be the criterion citizenship of a country. Nor is violence a solution when there a difference of opinion,” the Archbishop said in his memo.

Rev Machado expressed concern that the piece of legislation, when it was still a proposed bill, had caused a misunderstanding among the people and had led to violence in Assam, which is now spreading to the rest of the country. He also broached the matter of government backtracking on the CAA. “There is no harm in... changing course if this is necessary for the good of our country and our people,” he wrote, clarifying that such a move could mete out justice to all illegal immigrants and thus promote equality among them.”

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