Citizenship Act unrest: IIM-B students let their shoes protest for them

With Section 144 in force in Bengaluru, IIM Bangalore students protested against the Citizenship Amendment Act by leaving behind their footwear at the campus gate.
Despite getting a clear message from the college administration against protesting on the campus, students of the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, got their voices heard through a footwear protest at the university on Friday.

Respecting Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, in force in the city until the midnight of December 21, around 60 students came out in turns at the campus gate and left blank placards and their footwear at the campus gate, letting their footwear represent them. The students had organised a similar protest on Thursday, too.

“We left empty placards outside the gate to represent that our voices have been stifled under Section 144,” said a student. Around 15 policemen were present on the campus.

“Using state authority against peacefully protesting students is not acceptable and is reminiscent of Tiananmen Square in a democracy; that is unbelievable,” said another student.

Students informed they would continue with their protest against the police crackdown on students across several universities, including Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi, and the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019. IIM-Bangalore has in total around 1,000 faculty members and students.

Deepak Malghan, an associate professor at the college, criticised the CAA, saying this, when combined with the National Register of Citizens (NRC), is a frontal attack on the core constitutional principles that define our republic. “Let me not mince any words here. The CAA-NRC lays out the scaffolding for a Hindu Rashtra. Every thinking Indian must do everything to resist this naked assault on the Constitution,” said Malghan, who is also one of the organisers of the protest.

Alumni of the National Law School of India University, Bengaluru, also came out with a statement against the police action on students, CAA-NRC and the imposition of Section 144 in Bengaluru. It demands the withdrawal of all prohibitory orders under Section 144 to ensure that the fundamental right to dissent is respected and protected.

“The CAA has torn apart the concept of Indianness, and created fear in the hearts of people who rightly call it their home — the makers of the Indian Constitution had intended to prevent that. To sit silent in the face of this would be tantamount to being complicit in this abuse,” says the statement, signed by over 500 alumni of NLSIU.

“For Section 144 to be implemented, there shouldn’t be a distant possibility of harm but a manifest possibility of harm; that isn’t there in this case,” said Hamza Tariq, a fifth-year law student at NLSIU. Around 30 students of the college were detained for protesting near Town Hall on Thursday but were released later.

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