The 14 students named in the FIR are members of a coordination committee formed by different student associations at the time of the anti-CAA protests
Zafar Aafaq | Clarion India
HYDERABAD – “It was a season of protests. Everyone was out on the roads. We also protested.” said Hadif Nisar, a Kashmiri student studying in Hyderabad University, recalling the anti-CAA protests earlier this year.
But Nisar is one of the 14 students, including two women, from different associations who have been summoned by the police for questioning in connection with a case registered in Hyderabad over a protest demonstration held at the Maulana Azad National Urdu University – MANUU campus in February against the Citizenship amendment Act (CAA).
The students say they were surprised to see their name in the summonses at a time when universities and colleges are shut and students are confined to their homes.
They came to know about it when the summonses, dated October 8, arrived at the home of one of the accused, Manikanta, a student who lives in Nirmal district of Telangana, on Saturday.
“After seven months we got these summonses. It came as a shock because we did not know the police had filed a case against us.” said Manikanta, who is an M.Phil. student at Hyderabad University. “It must be the university who must have provided our identity details. The university administration should have informed us about the police case.”
The 14 students named in the FIR are members of a coordination committee formed by different student associations at the time of the anti-CAA protests. Three of them belong to the All India Students Association (AISA) and three from Nation Students Union India (NSUI).
They have been asked to show up at the police station Cyberabad in person. But students say it is not possible for them to travel from their homes amid the pandemic. Students named in the FIR live in Delhi, Kerala, Bihar and Kashmir.
Manikanta said that after receiving the summons, he called the investigation officer and enquired about the case. “The officer told him that the investigation is over, now face it in court. I did not understand what he was trying to say. I asked him about the investigation proceedings and failure to inform us but he said the investigations are over and now they are going to file a charge-sheet.”
Nasir said when he informed the parents about the case, they were worried. “They said we had told you to stay away from politics,” he said.
The contents of the FIR say that the accused students gathered “illegally” and conducted a march to the campus showing placards with slogans against the Central government. It says they delivered “provocative” lectures to break the “tranquility at the university”.
The police say that the students conducted the march without the permission of the police or the university authorities. The FIR invokes sections 143 and 188 of the Indian Penal Code.
The accused students refuted these allegations. They said that the assembly was peaceful and orderly. The cops present on the scene had asked the students that they should not hold the march on the road but the students say the road is a connecting link. “We told the policemen we have a right to protest peacefully.” said Nisar. “It was not possible for us to fly into the campus.”
Manikanta, the M.Phil. student, said that if the gathering was not peaceful, then the police should have arrested them only there.
On the accusation that they raised slogans against the Central government, Nisar said: “such arguments will be rubbished in the court. The court has already set a precedent that raising a placard or slogan against the Central government is not an offence.”
Khalida Parveen, a prominent member of civil society in Hyderabad, while speaking with Clarion India said the government should revoke these FIRs against students or people who protested against CAA and NRC. She said the Tenalgana government was following a Delhi-style witch-hunt against protesters.
“It is the right of the people to hold protests against the policies of the government,” she said, “there is nothing criminal about peaceful protests and the case should be withdrawn.”
Nasir Khuehami, spokesperson of J&K Students Association, said filing cases against students under “fake charges” was “alarming”. He said the cases were an attempt to scare off students from raising their voice.
Manikanta said they were committed to the cause of fighting against discriminatory policies of the government and urged the Telangana government to give up “the double standards” and come clean on its policy over the CAA.