Rahul urges Prez to protect students' rights

Last Updated 18 February 2016, 18:48 IST

Amid nationwide outrage over police crackdown on JNU students, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi called on President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday, urging him to intervene and protect the students’ right to debate, dissent, criticise and express their views “fearlessly”.

Leading a delegation of his party leaders to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Rahul drew Mukherjee’s attention to the attack on JNU teachers, students and journalists on the Patiala House Court premises. In a memorandum submitted to the President, he urged him to ensure that “immediate action” was taken to check the “state of lawlessness and subversion of democratic rights”.

“Over the last few months, the NDA government has displayed a dangerous tendency of undermining democratic freedoms and crushing the voices of those who do not share their views,” the party leaders said in the memorandum.

Referring to Rohit Vemula’s suicide in Hyderabad University, the Congress leaders claimed that the Dalit scholar was “pushed” to take the extreme step as he was “deemed anti-national merely for his association with the Ambedkar Students Association”.

“Across the country, whether in JNU, in Hyderabad University, in FTII and other places of learning, students are being bullied and threatened, simply for holding views contrary to the ruling establishment,” they added.

As many as 17 Congress leaders, including Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, party leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, accompanied Gandhi to the Rashtrapati Bhavan.  

“We are here to place our concerns before you and request your assistance in ensuring that immediate action is taken to check the state of lawlessness and subversion of democratic rights. As the patron of the universities, we call upon you to protect their freedom and uphold the values that built our nation,” the party leaders told the President.

After meeting the President, Rahul told reporters that the RSS was trying to impose its “flawed ideology on this country”.

(Published 18 February 2016, 18:48 IST)

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