DHAKA, Bangladesh — Students of Dhaka University have been showing solidarity with their counterparts in Jamia Millia Islamia University and Aligarh Muslim University who were attacked by the Delhi Police and the Uttar Pradesh police respectively, as well as condemning the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), this week.
The violent attack on students in New Delhi and Aligarh, who were protesting the law that makes religion the basis for determining Indian citizenship, has spurred other college campuses in India and abroad to protest.
These include Columbia, Stanford, Harvard, Yale and Oxford.
Nurul Haque Nur, Vice President of the Dhaka University Central Students’ Union (DUCSU), called the protest on Tuesday at the Anti Terrorism Raju Memorial Sculpture in Dhaka.
Addressing the gathering of a few hundred students, Nurul Haque Nur, the Vice President of Dhaka University Central Students’ Union (DUCSU), said, “It (CAA) is a communal law and it also conflicts with the Constitution of India,”
“Police attacked Aligarh Muslim University, Jamila Millia, and the whole of India is protesting it. Not just India, but other universities around the world are protesting against it. We came to know that the students of Harvard University also condemned the police attack on University premises. We, the Bangladeshi students, are also with the Jamia students.”
Mohammad Minhajuddin, a student at Jamia Millia Islamia University, has said he has lost sight in one eye as a result of the violence on Sunday. The hand of a student at Aligarh Muslim University had to be amputated after it was hit by a tear gas shell lobbed by the UP Police on the same day, as per reports.
“Not just India, but other universities around the world are protesting against it.”
There are people in Bangladesh who believe the CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) are making life hard for Muslims in India, and the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government is ruining India’s reputation as a diverse and secular country.
Saiful Islam Khan, who studies history at Dhaka University, is one of them.
“People may say why we should show solidarity with the students of another country. I would tell them that what has happened in Jamia is an unlawful act. It shouldn’t have taken place,” he said.
Khan believes that the Jamia Millia Islamia University students had every right to protest against a discriminatory law and they were protesting peacefully. He said, “Despite being a secular country, India came up with an Act that discriminates against a group of people on the basis of their religion. These days, this is not admissible. As a human being, I should stand with them to protest against an unethical law.”
“Despite being a secular country, India came up with an Act that discriminates against a group of people on the basis of their religion.”
Shagufta Bushra Mishma, who studies Accounting and Information Systems at Dhaka University, was shocked by the Delhi Police’s attack on female students of Jamia Millia Islamia University.
“It was unbelievable because India is the biggest democratic country in the world,” she said. “The Indian police, the police of any country, cannot enter a University like that and torture students who were demonstrating peacefully. It was a sheer condemnable act.”
Mishma added, “The question is inevitable now. I expect the authority will run a proper investigation.”
“It was a sheer condemnable act.””
Nineteen lakh people were left out of the NRC, which is an exercise meant to identify and exclude persons living in Assam without papers — many of them from neighbouring Bangladesh. Under CAA, only non-Muslim persons from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, living without documents in India are eligible to apply for citizenship.
Home Minister Amit Shah says he wants to roll out the NRC across India. The NRC, read along with the CAA, means Hindus and Muslims living without papers would be treated differently.
This week, Gauhar Rizvi, an advisor to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, said, “We will take back any Bangladeshi citizen staying in India illegally. But India has to prove that.”
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said the Modi government’s policy can cause a huge refugee crisis, and could push the two countries towards nuclear war. “Our country will not be able to accommodate more refugees,” he said.
The protest of the Dhaka University students met with some resistance when a pro-government organisation named Muktijuddo Monch, linked to the Bangladesh Chhatra League (the student wing of ruling Awami League), said that they have no right to talk about other country’s protest.
Violence was averted. Nur then led a procession of a few hundred students around the capital’s Motijheel-Shahbag area.
The NRC is worrying people here.
As a student of history, Khan recalled the Ceylon Citizenship Act, which was passed by Ceylon Parliament in 1948 and did not grant citizenship to Indian Tamils. Did anything good come out of it, he asked, while speaking of the bloody civil war that ravaged Sri Lanka. “They were stuck in the same place as a country for three decades,” he said.
Ruhul Amin, a litterateur in Dhaka, believes it will render people stateless and they will try to enter Bangladesh to make a new life for themselves.
“To be honest, I don’t find anything positive in NRC and CAA. With the NRC, India is taking the nationality of many Indians. That is really pathetic. We saw in the media that a Kargil war veteran lost his nationality due to NRC,” he said.