Student Protests


A silent protest which was supposed to take place by students of Kamala Nehru College stands allegedly cancelled by the college authorities.


On 31 January 2020, students of Kamala Nehru College (KNC), were set to organize a silent protest at the pavement, opposite to college, themed around ‘students demanding change’ around 10 AM. Posters were circulated the night before in different class WhatsApp groups about this mobilization.


However, on the morning of 31st January, confusion filled the air when talks of change in venue started to fly around. Around 11 AM the word which spread was that the venue has shifted to the main gate of Delhi College of Arts and Commerce (DCAC). 

Messages which were in circulation read,

“Hi KNCites. 

Since the admin and the principal have chosen to give us a hard time we are now mobilizing at the DCAC main gate. 

A call has been given to all the south campus students to come there. CLASSES CAN HAPPEN ANYTIME BUT ATROCITIES AGAINST STUDENTS DO NOT HAVE A SPACE IN THIS COUNTRY. 

It’s at 11:30 at the DCAC”

Since the incident, a lot of confusion started to fly around. According to sources, a meeting took place to aid communication between principal and students regarding this, however, the content of the meeting was not shared exclusively. 

DU Beat approached the Students’ Union of KNC for more clarity on this issue and they said, “Keeping in view the current scenario, if we’re convinced about our actions we can always meet the Principal and have an open dialogue with her, as far as we know she would be positive. That day during the interaction she talked about innovating the method of protest and didn’t disapprove of the idea of dissent.” They further added, “The dialogue does not only bridge the communication gap between the administration and the students but also helps a way out of the situation in the best interest of KNC.”

This stance, however, differed from what students thought. Initially, when asked upon, teachers and students expressed their qualms and denied openly talking about this issue. A source, however, agreed to talk, provided her request to have her identity remain undisclosed said, “In recent times students of KNC have faced a lot of backlash from college authorities, especially from the Principal. The students of Theatre Society were made to cancel their street play because the principal found it to be too political.”

While hinting towards the recent shift of silent protest, she added, “On 31st January the students of the College, organized a protest, which was supposed to take place outside College pavement, and she stood against it. She talked to the faculty to stop students from protesting and threatened students with rustication. She even announced on college speakers that if anyone is seen protesting, strict disciplinary actions will be taken against them. Later, she pinpointed departments and called for an emergency staff meeting which led the students feel scared about losing college.”


Similar patterns of events were observed when rumours about the authorities cancelling Lakshya: the Theater Society’s Fest: Concoction, went around. The cancellation was believed to be on the grounds of play having a political inclination. Although sources have confirmed that society members have communicated with the administration amidst the rumours and permission for fest has been granted, and they will proceed with it. 

Kriti Dwivedi, an alma mater of KNC, batch of 2019, openly expressed her disbelief through her social media pages. However, when asked upon to provide concrete evidence on which she based her accusations, she denied expressing it, the reason being the safety of those students who have some lead.

The notion of students having the liberty to express themselves freely and authorities meddling in between has gained quite a momentum in the campus. The Union and Society Presidents hold different ideas compared to what general students think. 

So far, no concrete evidence has been found which validates that the authorities hamper freedom of expression of students. But the eerie similarity of silence has started to raise apprehensions.

There’s silence in Kamala Nehru, and there’s no backing to say that if it’s for good or bad.
Feature Image Credits: College Dunia

In a shocking incident, an armed,unidentified  person entered the premises of Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI), brandishing a gun and fired at a gathering of anti-CAA protesters, injuring one student.

Protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) have reverberated throughout the country in recent times, with JNU, a premier institution situated in the Capital, being one of the foremost centres of open dissent. During one such demonstration of dissent, albeit a peaceful one, students of the university had gathered for a march to Rajpath when they were confronted by a man brandishing a handgun. He reportedly shouted slogans – “azaadi chahiye? Ye lo azaadi (You want freedom? Here, have your freedom) before firing shots at the protesters, injuring one student. The victim, Shadab Najar, a student of the Mass Communication and Research Centre (MCRC Department) at the University, was shot in the arm and was immediately rushed for treatment. The shooter, who was later found to be a juvenile, is currently in police custody, while the condition of the victim is stable. 

This chilling incident occurred just a day after Anurag Thakur, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Member of Parliament (MP) and Union Minister gave a controversial speech at a rally in Delhi, where he used the words “goli maaro” (shoot them) while speaking against the anti-CAA demonstrations in the country. The Jamia Teachers’ Association, which condemned the incident, blamed the Union Minister’s speech for the incident, stating, “We are convinced that this shooting, which could have been fatal, was the direct result of the call to goli maaro or shoot by an elected Member of Parliament”.  

There was widespread public outrage over the inability of the Delhi Police to prevent the incident, despite being present in large numbers on the scene. A Jamia Professor, on the condition of anonymity, said, “the incident unfolded right in front of the police and they were mute spectators to it.”

Praveer Ranjan, Delhi Police Special Commissioner, rubbished claims of complacency against the force, and asserted that a quick reaction wasn’t possible since the incident happened in a split of a second. Footage of videos shot by eye witnesses show that the Police a few feet from the assailant, stood still, in a defensive position. Delhi Police did manage to catch the shooter, preventing further damage.

The assailant, found to be only seventeen years old, was produced before the Juvenile Justice Board and sent to protective custody for 14 days. Police officials present at the hearing told NDTV that the accused reportedly planned to create the same situation at Shaheen Bagh but ultimately decided to go near the the Jamia campus instead. They also reported that he seemed to have been influenced by inflammatory posts on social media. An investigation into his Facebook posts revealed instances of pro-Hindutva slogans, and photos with firearms. Home Minister Amit Shah called for stringent criminal proceedings against the assailant.

The victim was admitted to AIIMS Trauma Centre and discharged the next day in a stable condition.

Social media stood united in the denouncement of the incident, with pictures of the victim, supportive messages and criticisms against violent elements, and the inertia of the police, being circulated across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. “Such an incident happening inside a prominent educational institution, especially a day before Martyrs’ Day, endangers the sanctity of education and the integrity of the nation,” opined Arnav Agrawal, a University of Delhi, student residing near the campus.

Feature Image Credits – India Today

Feature Image Caption – Shadab Najar, Student of Jamia Millia Islamia, who was shot by the assailant for protesting.

Araba Kongbam

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A fact finding team comprising the students from 30 prominent educational institutions of India  has been on a move to interact and collect details from the affected during the devastating incidents that took place during 14th to 19th January.

The young enthusiasts and the students of premier institutions, with their ongoing protests and struggles against the CAA and NRC have not only exemplified the power of youth in a representative nation, but have also contributed towards making the Government to rethink on the newly passed laws under the above mentioned acts. Continuing with the same, the students of 30 prestigious universities including Banaras Hindu University (BHU), University of Delhi (DU), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI), Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IITD), Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), National Law University (NLU), Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA), Allahabad University, and others, came together to create a students fact finding mission.

The mission was aimed at collecting facts and statements of the victims of the heavy violence that took place from 14th to 19th of January with a target to share the video and audio testimonies at a press conference scheduled for 22nd January. The team released a report on Uttar Pradesh police brutality in dealing with anti- CAA protests with specifically targeting the muslim population. The group of students travelled to all the 15 violence affected cities situated in Uttar Pradesh covering Meerut, Bijnor, and even Firozabad, primarily from January 14th to 19th.

A student of Jamia Millia Islamia informed about some of the common observations of the team which included, the police exclusively targeting the muslim ghettos which belonged to the economically weaker sections of the society. Rag pickers, daily wage labourers, workers of small dhabas were some of the few among them. As, per his statement police, instead of curbing the protest often indulged in open firing killing especially the minors paying no regard to the provision against firing above the waist.

He further explained about the instances where the injured who went for an X-Ray were not allowed to keep the reports and other documents with them. Not only this, as per his statement there are many hospitals in Uttar Pradesh who denied treatment to many wounded who lost their lives which otherwise could have been saved. In his final statements he said, “This violence can be seen as the culmination of communal polarisation spread by government and media over past few years affecting administrations and psyche of a common person, resulting in the generation of a sence of hatred towards a particular community.”.

Feature Image Credits: DU Beat Archives

Kriti Gupta

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Emphasising the significance of dissent in educational institutions, by illustrating the experiences of individuals in public and private universities across India.

There is a certain dynamic energy at display in the protests growing in universities across India; loud declarations calling out the law and order as well as the incumbent government, a complicit administration and those who continue to have their apolitical stances flourish in an environment of burgeoning discrimination and prejudice. The very fact that reading of the preamble and singing the national anthem in a University space has become a symbol of dissent, speaks volumes about the clampdown the authorities want to impose in educational institutions. But this time; the story, the goals and the dissemination is different. There’s a visible change in the air of erstwhile apolitical campuses, which have risen up in solidarity with those marginalised in this country.

Students of Jesus and Mary College (JMC), University of Delhi (DU) have led a silent protest outside the college campus every day since 8th January 2020. They stand against Citizen Amendment Act (CAA), police brutality, campus violence and in support with those being persecuted throughout the nation. This is a welcome change from the apolitical attitude of students in JMC, a women’s college which continues to not be associated to Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU).

Anoushka Tiwari, a Journalism student at Sophia College for Women, University of Mumbai explained that it is the nature of her course that allows her peers to be invested in the politics of daily life, and comprehend the importance of protests in current times. Reading the preamble has become a bi-weekly ritual in college, and those of her classmates who didn’t indulge in politics before have realised the importance of educating themselves and standing up. She expressed her joy at Mumbai colleges emerging from their apolitical cocoons on the streets, using their privilege to dissent.

A lot is to be said about the ideologies and power structure of the administration prevalent in universities, which restrict the expression of dissent, with threats of expulsion and suspension. In such spaces, the use of authority is being challenged by students, who have come to recognize that the very thread or our constitution is at stake.

Bhumica Veera, a student at NMIMS KPM School of Law expressed her dismay over students of private universities being coerced into not releasing or deleting solidarity statements, which she explained is against the right of every student to dissent. “Till today we’ve not been given a written document signed by our dean telling us which exact rule have we violated? Nor have we been verbally told about it. When we asked what exactly constitutes as a political statement, we were given no verbal/written responses.” The students then proceeded to release a statement, quoting, “We will agitate. We will debate. We will question. It is our future. Stop patronizing and start listening. Maybe you’ll finally know why the kids aren’t alright. After all, we will outlive you”


Statement of students of NMIMS KPMSOL, against CAA and campus violence.

Image Credits: Bhumica Veera for NMIMS KPMSOl


“The students have risen up, finally. The students are the opposition. The students will resist, resist, resist.”


Feature Image Credits: Sanna Singh

Paridhi Puri 
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India has had an illustrious history of protests. Be it the pre-independence times or the post. But nearly every time, these protests are accused of being mere activities of political agendas and activities.

Whenever we see something going wrong in the social or political sphere in the nation, we take to the streets. Be it the recent Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) agitations or The Bihar Movementof 1974, the students along with political leaders wanted the nation to change. But both these agitations till some extent had a political flavour within them. The Leftist parties for the latter and Jana Sangh(Later Bhartiya Janata Party) for the post, and it is these political ideologies that have made many of these protests a victim of political rivalries, thereby weakening their credibility. Though politics in protests has helped protests to become effective but this effectiveness always comes with a price.

Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams, writers of the book Inventing the Future: Post capitalism and a World without Work, question the power of marches, protests, and other acts of what they call folk politics.

They said, “These methods are more habit than solution. Protest is too fleeting. It ignores the structural nature of problems in a modern world. The folk-political injunction is to reduce complexity down to a human scale.”

This impulse promotes authenticity-mongering, reasoning through individual stories (also a journalistic tic), and a general inability to think systemically about change.

Take the example of the DTC bus burning near Jamia Millia Islamia. Every time the protestors want to raise a valid critical point over the CAA and NRC legislation, they are shut out by the pro-legislation groups on this violent act. Though the protestors claim that they weren’t a part of the act which was later proved to be true but their credibility was compromised using fake news and propaganda.

Violence has always been part of the political process. Politics does not merely encompass the actions of Legislative assemblies, political parties, electoral contests and other formal trappings of a modern Government. Protest activities of one form or another, efforts to dramatize grievances in a fashion that will attract attention, and ultimately the destruction or threatened destruction of life and property appear as expressions of political grievances even in stable consensual societies like India.

In one sense, to speak of violence in the political process to speak of the political process itself; the two are inseparable. The ultima ratio of political action is force. Political activity below threshold of force is normally carried on with the knowledge that an issue maybe escalated into overt violence if a party feels sufficiently aggrieved. So be it Hindutva for the Bhartiya Janata Party, the dynastic politics for the Congress or the worker and trade union politics for the Left parties.

Medha Patkar, an environmental activist, who was a leading figure in Narmada Bachao Andolan, was able to stall the Narmada Dam project. She was successful as her lobbying made the World Bank withdraw its funding from the project. Still the project was completed with the help of public funding and the dam stands tall on the Narmada River. This tells us that protesting is a right of citizens of a democratic nation but protesting responsibly is also a duty.

We protestors have to be rational in our demands or otherwise protests get intermixed with politics. Like the students’ union protested against the change of names of Aligarh Muslim University and Banaras Hindu University into Aligarh University and Banaras University in the 1970s. Just think about the level of communal harmony this simple name change could have done.

If we look at the protests today as an exercise in public awareness, they appear to have had mixed success at best. Their messages are mangled by an unsympathetic media smitten by images of property destruction—assuming that the media even acknowledges a form of contention that has become increasingly repetitive and boring. Therefore we should always protest whenever we want to see change but always be responsible and rock hard on our goals.

As in recent times many student politicians have started protesting, not for student problems but for popularity, which is not only catastrophic now but also in the future.

One of my close friends told me that hearing about JNU students protesting has become so common that now people don’t even care. Though I have my own interpretations but still I can’t help but agree with him on a great extent.


Feature Image Credits:The New Yorker


Aniket Singh Chauhan

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Students participated in a peaceful protest held at Jesus and Mary College on 8th January 2020,  where they also faced problems by the Student Body due to restriction of dissent by the Administration.

Jesus and Mary College (JMC) saw students gather on the 8th of January 2020, outside the campus in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi at 10:30 a.m. to show solidarity against the brazen misuse of political power and violation of basic Fundamental Rights by the Government. The state-sponsored violence meted out to the students of various educational institutions across the country was strongly condemned, in a silent protest held in front of the campus.


Students condemning State-sponsored Violence

Despite the absence of the Students’ Council from the place of protests, a message was circulated by them before the protest, condemning violence and voicing their support for freedom of speech in a peaceful way. The students, however, were sceptical at the apolitical stance of the student council, which had earlier refused to comment and release a statement of solidarity condemning the violence citing different views of students. Some students also cited the pressure from the administration when it came to the college societies and departments to release solidarity statements.
Later, the Students’ Council urged the students to come inside the college campus and protest after seeking permission from the Principal.
Some students chose to continue the protest outside the college campus.

The silent protest was held in a peaceful manner, a welcome change that encouraged and fostered dissent in the erstwhile apolitical campus of JMC. Students held banners criticizing the government and the forces of law and order. A healthy dialogue about democracy was fostered, in a protest that saw attendance by students from other colleges too. No disruptions by the police occurred. A group of students joined the protests at The Faculty of Arts, North Campus immediately following this at 12:00 p.m. Students affirmed their support for dissent against authoritarian forces, condemned the growing excesses of fascism within the country and stood up for student-worker unity.

Feature Image Credits: Paridhi Puri for DU Beat

Paridhi Puri 

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Students’ protests are often categorised as violent, disruptive, misdirected, politically motivated, and even ‘anti-national’. Let’s try to dissect why such co-relations and myths burn several minds.

Early in the morning of 19th December, I went to my college in South Delhi. The journey was tattered with hints of the ongoing unrest. While interchanging the metro at Rajiv Chowk, I heard the announcement that Vishwavidyalaya and Chandni Chowk Metro Stations have been closed off, moments later Twitter pinged with the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation notification of three more metro stations being closed on Magenta line due to security reasons. An hour later, after I had safely reached my destination, my phone rang. My mother on the other side of the phone, panic-striken, was rapidly asking about my whereabouts and safety protocols, asking for my friend’s number, saying, “Bache shaitaani kar rahe hain sadko par.”  

This anecdote symbolises all that is wrong with inherent instincts against the idea of students on the street. It portrays the relationship between a wide protest and a household, where the unconditionally loving parents want their kids safe, away from political drama, and locked up in the world of academic drudgery. And hence, it also justifies denouncing the students who do come on the streets, as misdirected, fed false information, and politically provoked.

However, this utter belief of students just joining protest for fun and not knowing about the cause also comes from a place of highly charged political propaganda prevailing around the protest culture. The idea of students partaking in ‘anti-national’ sloganeering, provoking riots, vandalising public property, and enabling communal tensions is aggravated by large political bodies propagating these very ideas through doctored videos and cultural machinery of using have-have nots language. This might be the reason why the police didn’t deter from entering and brutally assaulting students in Jamia Millia Islamia campus, assuming the favoured and natured stance that it is intrinsic of student protestors to indulge in unlawful practices. The same was the reason cited by the many supporters of Delhi Police who reduced the act of violence as cautionary measure.

However, the fact is that it takes money and muscle power to turn any protests violent, which can be propagated by either sides of the coin to sustain their ideas. It is categorically and fundamentally difficult to believe that any student protestor, with minimal resource could indulge in violence. Hence, the onus of violent protests remains onto the large-dynamic parties with easy access and motives. Despite this, the blame comes onto the educated, politically and socially aware students, as they are the ones who become pawns in the game. Therefore, when students of Jawaharlal Nehru University came on the streets a few weeks ago, the whole-wide world went batshit crazy, not focusing on the facts, but just that students are yet-again raising their voices.

This then motivates suppression of voice, paranoid, and resilience. The State, to avoid the aforementioned ‘damage of public property and security reasons’, suppress protests that might cause socio-political unrest. Suspension of metro-internet services, denying protest-permits hours before protest, and detaining protesters even before march had begun were the means to achieve disbandment of the 19th December protest. While, the students on the other hand, imagining the worst, had started sharing legal aid contacts and ‘steps-to-follow-if-you-are-detained’ stories for awareness, signifying the instinctual fear associated with going to protests. The paranoia of being misheard, misrepresented, and misused to incite communal or social fire also remains with texts of ‘How-to-identify-miscreants-in-the-crowd’ also being circulated rigorously, to ensure that their peaceful protest for a cause doesn’t become a stepping stone for any forms of misheard communal hatred and violence.

It is in instinctually wrong for students or their parents to be scared of protests. It is not even about Freedom of Speech, but rather the idea of a Democratic Republic where safe and peaceful protests don’t translate into students’ childishness or lack of political awareness but rather, are heard as an appeal of Justice, Rights, and Liberty. 

Despite constantly hoping for protests to be perceived as perpetually propelling positivity, the harsh reality is that asking for any form of ‘aazadi’ and ‘freedom’ is going to be a politically charged statement and not a critique of democracy, and therefore, the students on the streets are always going to be ‘shaitaan’ and ‘troublemakers’ and not student leaders fighting for themselves. 

Featured Image Credits: The Wire

Sakshi Arora

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As students, teachers and administration protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act, police turn against the protesters with harsh measures but only to empower the movement.

A few days back, while I was learning about Justice and Legislation, Thomas Jefferson’s words caught my attention, he said, “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty,” but never did I imagine that this quote by the former US President would find relevance in such contexts and conditions or at this price at all. It was Friday, 13th December when the students and teachers of Jamia Millia Islamia University gathered in the University campus to perform their rightful duty by expressing their rejection of the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), 2019 and the Center’s unconstitutional and illegitimate policies.

A hard line of explanation has already been promulgated with regard to the irrelevance and catastrophic outcomes that the Act has on the minorities of the country, it has been well substantiated to be deemed as unconstitutional if not immoral on their part. While Arundhati Roy called the CAB coupled with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) as an attempt to threaten, destabilise and stigmatise Indian Muslims, several other Parliamentarians retorted to the Parliament to oppose the legislation of the Citizenship Amendment Bill but only after they failed in their attempt, people across the nation took to the streets to protest against this Bill and stimulate its necessary withdrawal.

The nationwide protests specifically in Kolkata, Assam and Kerala witnessed it’s grandeur in the Capital when students, teachers, and staff of Jamia Millia Islamia came together to express their concerns and register their grievances with regard to the CAB, but what followed was all the more condemning of the police and the administration. There was a time when dissent was India’s best export and protests and marches gathered the necessary attention with successful influence on the decisions and policy matters, but today while the former still holds true it is only to restrict, defame and vandalise the student and university property.

The protest as called by the JMI Teachers Association (JTA), Jamia Administrative Staff Association (JASA), SRK Association and Jamia School’s Teachers Association was on its third day after similar protests were organised by the Hall of Boys Residents and Hall of Girls Residents on 11th and 12th December. The protests that were carried out silently ensuring that it’s met with zero damage to public property or hindrance to the general public was rather cosplayed by the police forces pretending to provide security to the students.

After the teachers and administration addressed the protesters, the gathering was supposed to March towards the Parliament house which was deliberately stopped by the police administration at the Julena Crossing; no one was allowed to cross the Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar Marg, which runs across the University and, hence, thousands were trapped amidst the commotion that followed.

Undoubtedly, the Delhi Police were prepared for these measures as nothing else could’ve brought a force of thousands of policemen backed with tear gas and armoury that were used to control a bunch of student protesters. The clash between the students and the police had severe repercussions with brutal baton charges and firing being employed in the name of control and disciplinary actions, the actions further agitated the movement and inspired the protesters to take their movement a step further with support and solidarity from writers, actors, lawyers, bureaucrats and other organisations.

“What inspires every student to connect with this movement is the fact that Jamia is devoid of any particular political union, hence, discarding the claims of being driven with a political motive, students are just united against oppression to express unity,” says Mohammad Altamash, of Faculty of Law, Jamia Millia Islamia.

The media has surely portrayed everything otherwise and rather than reporting facts has fabricated the entire narrative against the students.

As we enter the fourth day, students are back inside the campus but have not stopped voicing their concerns and are now more empowered than ever before or as Mohammad Bilal Farooqui, Department of History, Jamia Millia Islamia says, “Jamia will never be the same.”



Featured Image Credits: Arsh Mehdi(@tenplusthree)

Faizan Salik

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As stated in a press release, the students of Delhi School of Journalism have decided to move to the court for non-delivering of the promised facilities.

Delhi School of Journalism (DSJ) has been in the limelight for continuous protests and agitation against the University administration for non-fulfilment of basic infrastructure facilities like a proper media lab and a computer lab required for the course, since its inception. Dr. M.M. Yogi, Officer on Special Duty, Delhi School of Journalism had assured the students that their demands would be fulfilled ‘soon’, but the situation remains unchanged.

In a revolutionary move, students have now decided to appeal to the apex court against the University to resolve their problems and grievances. According to a press release, students of DSJ, Mohammad Ali, Suman Shekhar, Shahid Ansari,and Ankit Shukla moved to the Supreme Court regarding the matter.

Mohammad Ali, a second-year student of DSJ informed DU Beat that despite paying the highest fee in the University of Delhi, students of DSJ are deprived of basic facilities. He also stated that this step has been undertaken after facing disappointment by the hands of other senior authorities of Delhi University like the Vice Chancellor and Registrar. The students are seeking help from renowned lawyer Mr. Prashant Bhushan.

Maknoon Wani, another student of DSJ stated “The University and DSJ administration have collectively breached our trust. After a series of protests and the subsequent assurances given to us in writing, there hasn’t been any significant development in our college. No media lab has been established and we don’t have the infrastructure required for the proper functioning of the course. Lack of transparency is also an issue for us.” He added that the University has not made any records public citing that the audit has not been done. As a last resort, the students have decided to move to the court.

On the other hand, a press release by Professor J.P. Dubey, Honorary Director of DSJ stated that the students are being provided with the basic facilities, decent classrooms, media workshops, and field visits. It also states that students of third and fourth semester have been provided laptops and are also being exposed to various national and international agencies. 25% students from each batch and section are provided fee concession of 20% to 80% of the tuition fee was also mentioned in the release.

Mohammad Ali believes that if everything goes well, they will soon file an official court case against the University with the help of senior lawyer, Prashant Bhushan. Mr.Bhushan has also assured the students to help them in every possible way.


(With inputs from DU Beat Archives)


Image Credits: Suman Shekhar

Sakshi Arora

[email protected]

Covering protests properly is important for journalists to present a real account of what the students actually think and how they behave. They are the tools for effective empowerment of a disgruntled section of the society.

In every University campus in the world, there have been agitations and instances of conflict between students and the people in power— whether they are teachers, student leaders or the administration. Sparks of dissent arise from such conflicts. Sometimes, these sparks also arise from everyday conversations among students. For instance, what happened in JNU in 2016 was an instance of conversations leading to protests.

Protests are perhaps the most spontaneous form of political action that would take place. Not surprisingly in the so-called liberal, freethinking, modern campuses of Indian education system, protests seem to become the norm and not the aberration. For better or for worse, these protests empower students to show their dissent, ideas, frustration, and their power. The protests also teach important lessons in organisation, mobilisation, symbolism, use of rhetoric and actual politics to the students. At an age when we are constantly evolving, the power of collective action, through protests, can be very stimulating for young minds. At the heart of their inception, therefore, protests represent battles fought everyday— between the all-powerful and the less powerful; the privileged and the dispossessed; the adulated and the marginalised. They are the quickest and best way to gauge the pulse of the youth.

So, is it any wonder that in DU Beat we cover protests diligently and doggedly? As a student journalist who has been to several protests, I can honestly say that it remains the most exciting part of the job. The interactions between students, teachers, police and the often unhelpful (seldom benevolent) University staff provide unique glimpses into the status quo. When these protests turn violent, it becomes all the more incumbent upon us to draw out the truth and find out what really happened. Providing an unbiased account of the ground reality has to be the aim of a good journalist.

Therefore, covering protests right— and not necessarily participating in them— become all the more important. In fact, it is almost unethical to be a part of protests which you are covering. Although it is true that journalism is hardly unbiased and journalists, like any other people, are political beings, some ground rules do apply on the field. For instance, I never indulge in sloganeering when I attend a protest I intend to cover. I try to talk to almost all the parties involved in the protest: the protesters, the opposition, the police and the officials. In fact, in one of the protests I covered one person asked me why I kept on sitting and clicking pictures for hours without uttering a single word. Did I not believe in the cause? My answer was that it was because I believe in the cause I cannot be seen to be biased when I report on it. My personal opinions can, in no way, clash with my professional practice.

However, what journalists in the country often succumb to is a false sense of objectivity. In pursuing a so-called “impartial” narrative, they often fall trap to a he-said/she-said view of events which leaves the reader more confused than ever. The primary goal of journalists has to be to uncover the truth, no matter the consequences, and present it in the best way possible.

In this vein, protests remain one of the most challenging aspects of the profession we are involved in. Its fast-paced nature, its unpredictability, the manifestations of power relations, which are themselves very fragile, the slogans that pulsate through the air— these are some of the reasons that will draw me to my cause of covering protests every single time.

Feature Image Credits: DU Beat

Sara Sohail
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