Thousands of students and youth from all over the country, under the banner of AISA and RYA, stormed the barricades at Jantar Mantar yesterday, protesting corporate plunder and the UPA government’s pro-corporate scams, and demanding equitable education and dignified employment.
Before the students and youth marched to Parliament, they held a massive meeting, which blockaded the Jantar Mantar road. Waving red flags, and colourful painted hoardings and banners, they raised slogans of ‘Corporate Plunderers Quit India’ and ‘Shame on UPA Govt that Subsidises Corporates and Sells Out Students’. The hoardings said, “UPA Govt Spends on Education in Nine Years What It Allows to Corporates to Loot in Just 2 Scams”, pointing out that the total amount looted in 2G and Coal scams amounted to Rs 3.56 lakh crores – more or less equal to the Rs 3.52 lakh crore that is the UPA Government’s total education budget of the last nine years!
After a rousing call by leaders of the AISA and RYA leaders, the students and youth began marching peacefully towards Parliament. This march to parliament was joined by AISA and RYA leaders and activists from several parts of the country, including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Karbi Anglong, West Bengal, Darjeeling, Punjab, Maharashtra, UP, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi. They broke down the first two barricades, braving a severe police lathicharge in which several students suffered severe injuries.
JNUSU Vice President Abhishek Yadav, JNUSU President Sucheta De, JNUSU SIS councilor Shakeel Anjum, CPS student Chintu and other JNU students are amongst the several students who were beaten up and injured by the Sashastra Seema Bal. One wonders what the Sashastra Seema Bal was doing at Jantar Mantar and why they attacked the students and youth with no warning or provocation! Abhishek sustained an injury just above the eye, and Shakeel was badly beaten up and has several injuries in the back. Several AISA and RYA activists from Delhi, UP and Andhra Pradesh have sustained head injuries and a comrade from Madhya Pradesh has fractured his leg in the lathi charge. Several students (including young women) were manhandled by male police. The police also detained AISA and RYA’s national leadership and some activists for a short while but had to release them soon under pressure from thousands of students and youth who refused to walk away from the barricades at Jantar Mantar.
The lathi charge at Jantar Mantar is yet another indication that brutal state repression is the only response of the ruling classes! Left with no answers to the burning questions of our times, we have repeatedly seen this kind of crackdown on students, youth, farmers, workers, landless labourers, dalits and adivasis demanding their rights and social dignity. In another condemnable incident just yesterday, the Delhi Police lathi charged protestors at the Shram Shakti Bhawan who were demanding justice for the workers of the Maruti Suzuki plant in Manesar, Gurgaon. The UPA Government protects its corrupt Ministers and corrupt corporates who loot lakhs of crores worth of the country’s precious resources – but unleashes repression on the country’s young generation when they demand the right to equitable education and dignified employment.
AISA has been consistently running campaigns against corruption and corporate loot, against the proposed education bills that are a virtual sell-out of publicly funded education, and for dignified employment. Last year too, AISA-RYA had mobilized thousands of students for the 100-hour barricade against corruption and corporate loot, starting from 9th August 2011.
In the days to come too, AISA will carry forward these struggles against the machinations of the powers-that-be to barter away our collective futures.
We appeal to the student community to participate in large numbers in all our future campaigns against organized corporate loot, and to defend the very idea of an equitable, affordable and socially inclusive educational institution.