Students of Ram Lal Anand College (RLAC) condemned guest speaker Balbir Punj regarding the statements made during his most recent address at the College’s seminar last Friday. 

The students of RLAC have released a statement condemning Balbir Punj and the stances he took as a guest speaker during a seminar held on 17th January 2020. Punj, an ex-MP from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was present at the seminar as a guest speaker. According to the released statement, when questioned regarding CAA and NRC, he could not address it.

In a seminar about CAA/NRC, minority institutions namely, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI), St. Stephens, and Section 15 of the Constitution were attacked. At the beginning of the seminar, Punj allegedly refused to accept the existence of CAA and then proceeded to justify the act. According to the students, Punj reduced the student movement to ‘dog-whistle politics’, made communal arguments rather than exploring other aspects of the act, quoted Jinnah and made remarks about the minorities of other countries without addressing the problem of minorities in India. He did not address the active concerns of the students and addressed India as being made to originally be a religious and not a secular state. In the seminar, Punj also explained the notion of secularism, that he denies being a part of the Preamble, he goes on mentioning Article 29 and 30 of the Indian constitution which gives special and cultural rights to the minority communities which makes India a secular and pluralist country. Punj attacked the minority communities of Christians and Muslims, questioning the minority provisions being given to these communities under the guise of secularism.

“CAA/NRC/NPR cannot be understood in isolation. When Amit Shah himself explains the chronology of CAA and NRC, we should not forget this is an open attempt to reduce India’s minority to second class citizens. We should not forget that when our economy is facing the biggest slowdown in 10 years, high rates of unemployment, privatization of institutions, attack on universities to suppress dissent, increase in inflation etc CAA/NRC/NPR is a sword to divert attention from real issues.

While Mr Balbir Punj quoted Jinnah and mentioned Pakistan several times, we would like to quote Gandhi to you “I could not associate myself with the contention that India should drive out all its Muslim population to Pakistan as the Muslims of Pakistan were driving out all non-Muslims. Two wrongs cannot make one right”, 19 September 1947,” the statement read.

Balbir was also unable to answer any of the questions posed to him by the students present at the seminar. “Balbir Punj made all possible communal statements which are really dangerous for an educational institution. He attacked the idea of an inclusive India. He tried to mold data and history in all possible ways. The talk was a failure and the worst part was when I questioned him about citizenship of LGBTQ community as most of them are not in good terms with family so, obviously can’t produce documents and talked about situation of LGBTQ Community inside the campus, he smiled and responded in really shameful and insensitive way,” Deshdeep Dhankar, a student from RLAC who was present at the seminar, told DU Beat.

While, Gulshan Kumar, President, Students’ Union, said, “On our request sir delivered and lecture for around an hour and every single student of our college heard him very patiently. We also took feedbacks from the students. But it’s sad to say that some of the students who were not even present wanted to disturb the lecture. When the students were allowed to ask questions few students who follow the left ideology tried to disturb the atmosphere of the auditoriumand tried to manipulate the students.”
He further added, the Union’s comment on the same, “RLASU condemns such kind of action. The poster and banners were also pasted on the wall by the passout students of the college and this is not at all acceptable. The union is for the the Student’s of RLA and we are always committed to work for them. But the students union will not at all entertain the interest of outsiders.”

The ex-MP had come to the institution for a talk in favour of the CAA and NRC. The students of RLAC have condemned the talk, and called it “shameful, a failure, and a blatant spread of lies.”


Feature Image Credit: Shiksha

Shreya Juyal

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As I write this, I am not fine actually. I don’t know if you are aware of the situation in Assam ever since the Citizenship Amendment Act was passed in the Indian Parliament. Nothing seems to be like a normal vacation back home this time.

Right from the internet services shutdown to the peaceful gatherings; we have braved everything with courage and faith in the Indian Judiciary that justice will be delivered.

We have problems right from getting in touch and connecting with our family and friends as even a normal call wouldn’t just happen.

Sadness is a small word to capture the struggles we are going through every single day for our basic communication, essential necessities and the protection of our very own identity.

Although there is no curfew now and there have been comparatively peaceful protests, yet there is a wind of melancholy around as students in hostels of Universities have been under lockdown. Education in its truest sense is about the liberation of the mind and intellect but when our very institutions capture the intellect, where does one knock the door in search of reason and light?

As things try to return back to normal, waves of horror from the recent past are still fresh as the wounds bleed and heal simultaneously.

Everyone here had to struggle to get food and basic necessities during the curfew and the outstation students have not been able to go home because of safety issues. The Armed forces could be seen on the roads, visibly creating a vibe of horror in the minds of people once again. Our wounds had just started to heal when they got cut again in a matter of decades. The trauma is difficult to go through once again.

People are afraid to stay outside their homes until late as they fear that anything can happen at any time. Everything seems so unpredictable, it’s so heart-breaking.

Those days of internet shutdown didn’t feel like the democratic India that we had always been studying about, or been living in for so long. It was terrifying to the extent of disbelief that we had to go through the terrors normally experienced in anarchy. We felt like prisoners at the mercy of the government, hands tied and mouth forcefully shut; with no voice or medium to let our voice be heard.

My friends from the Cotton University in Guwahati were the first ones to start the series of protests initially against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in Guwahati. They have seen it all. Right from the gunfires to curfew to the lack of food and other necessities in hostels.

My friend Panna Priyam Das sums it up. “I had read about wars, riots and civil disobedience, but all of these were a distant past and a very unlikely future until this brutal present hit me and the people of my state right in the face. I guess from romanticizing war scenarios to actually trying to fall asleep to the constant sound of sirens and gunfire and nationalistic slogans, we all got the lesson for our lackadaisical attitudes towards Politics. Fascism blossomed in our ignorance, so much so, that we have become captives in our old land and have to compromise our own integrity.”

All the artists of Assam are coming together on a common platform and starting their own kind of peaceful protests by singing patriotic songs on stages in huge fields and expressing their concern about their cultural identity being endangered and being lost, amongst them is the famous Assamese singer Zubeen Garg.

Solidarity amongst all the linguistic and religious groups can be seen despite their cultural differences as almost people from all fields came out on the roads and took out rallies in large numbers.

There is no stopping to this revolution here in the North East, but what is sad is the fact mainland media has continuously side-lined the North-East and the issues that concern us.

As I write this, I do not want my identity to remain anonymous. Rather, I want to assert my identity in all its might and glory. We are proud Assamese, proud Indians. I have faith in my nation. I have faith in my culture and my rights.

This is the time when I need to assert my identity and my culture more than ever as this is a time of crisis for my identity and culture.

Understand and talk about our cause, our problem and our plight. As Indians, it is the childhood phrase of ‘Unity in Diversity’, crossed across our hearts that defines us at this very moment.

Stand for Us. Stand for India.


 Featured Image Credits- Hindustan Times

Pallabi Dutta

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Note- This is a guest feature, authored by a student from Delhi University .