The Students’ Union of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai Campus has released a statement condemning the maligning of the institute and it students for participating in protests which is a right granted to all the people of India by the Constitution.
The statement talks about the arrest of TISS student Kris Chudawala who was slapped with charges of sedition for raising slogans at Azad Maidan during the Mumbai Pride 2020. Kris Chudawala had shown solidarity with arrested Jawaharlal Nehru Student Sharjeel Imam who was arrested amid the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests. Chudawala had raised the slogan – “Sharjeel tere sapnon ko hum manzil tak pahunchayenge.”
A Mumbai Sessions court on Wednesday rejected Kris’ anticipatory bail application and no interim relief has been given to them for appeal in the High Court as well.
The statement by TISS reads, “In a judgment of the Honourable Supreme Court it is held that only raising slogans cannot constitute sedition unless there is an implicit threat of violence. Using these charges to curb the dissenting voices of the oppressed is highly condemnable. Sedition itself is an out-dated colonial law, which has and continues to be used against minorities, human rights defenders, civil rights activists and other dissenters as a political tool.”
It says that the attack on the young trans student is politically motivated, an example of political persecution and it amounts to hate crime and also mentions that Kris, at the same pride gathering had also read out ‘The Preamble of the Constitution of India’, which was witnessed by all the people present at the venue, thereby negating all claims of them being anti-national.
The students’ union also says that the FIR against Chudawala is just another in line of the systematic attacks on dissenting student voices across the country. It condemns the sedition charges on Akhil Gogoi, Sharjeel Imam and the faculty of the Shaheen School in Bidar and a parent of the student from the institute, demanding the immediate release of those arrested.
Using strong words to express their displeasure against the government’s actions, the statement says, “These fascist forces are shook by the students and civil society driving the movement against the undemocratic, anti-secular and anti-indigenous moves of the State. Disproportionate and manipulative targeting can be witnessed when irresponsible and violent statements given by elected representatives to the like of “Goli Maaro S***on Ko” go with no action being taken upon them. In the face of resistance, questioning our nationalism and allegiance to the country is a method they want to adopt in order to delegitimize struggles. We want to reiterate that fascism is the real threat to the unity and integrity of the country.”
The students’ union also condemned the media for the labelling and portrayal of Kris as an adversary to their own community, and as an ‘outsider’. It said that the media houses were completely queer exclusionary in nature and have failed to be sensitive in their reportage of issues related to queer individuals; violating privacy of individuals, mis-gendering them and sharing pictures thus causing permanent damage to their lives.
In its concluding statement, the students’ union calls on for other students to support them in their fight against the government and the biased media. It demands that the FIR against Kris Chudawala be dropped immediately and expresses solidarity with the students striving to protect the principles enshrined in the Constitution.
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