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DU: Students ‘Detained’, Teachers Raise Tough Questions During PM Modi’s Visit

Ravi Kaushal |
"Threats couched as advisories to teachers that photographs of attendees would be uploaded on college and University websites reveal the mindset of the University,” read a joint student-teacher statement.

modi in du

Colleges had asked students to maintain full attendance and desist from wearing dresses.

Photo Credit: PTI


New Delhi: Two activists of All India Students Association (AISA) were allegedly put under house arrest on Friday ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit at Delhi University. The PM laid foundation stones for three new buildings as part of centenary celebrations and addressed a joint gathering of teachers, students and employees.

Abhigyan Gandhi, Secretary, AISA, Delhi unit, said that few policemen came to their flat and informed them that they were not allowed to step outside. Talking to NewsClick, he said that no specific reasons were given. “First they said that we cannot move outside, then talked about taking us to police station,” he said.

Gandhi said “this is unprecedented. What is PM Modi worried about? Is he worried that students may ask him about increasing fee and unemployment, displacement of our teachers and decreasing investment on public education?”

Prior to the PM’s visit, colleges had asked students to maintain full attendance and desist from wearing black dresses. Some said they were even promised five additional attendances if they take part in live streaming of Modi’s Speech. The gazetted holiday of Eid Ul Adha was turned into a working day to complete the preparations of centenary celebrations.

The move was vehemently criticised by students’ and teachers’ bodies. Aman, co-convenor, Students Federation of India (SFI) in Delhi University, said it was condemnable for any college to be releasing such “dictatorial directives”. If making the presence of all students mandatory for the live screening of the event was not exasperating enough, the administration also asked students to not wear any black dresses, he said.

“It is preposterous that the college and university administration will go to any length to curb all sorts of dissent in our educational spaces. In addition, giving the attendance bait to students speaks volumes about the ‘serious’ approach adopted by institutions like Delhi University towards imparting sound, meaningful education to its students”, he added.

Another student, Aditi, said the whole event was rather “bewildering” at a time when the Prime Minister’s silence on the situation of Manipur and the protesting wrestlers of India has been “deafening.”

“A government which resorts to the most brutal measures against dissenting students, pushes teachers to the brink of suicide, constantly propagates unscientific, communal, corrupt and unsound policies like NEP-FYUP in education is called upon to celebrate an institution like Delhi University which was until now known for its secular, democratic and inclusive culture,” she told NewsClick.

In a joint statement, teachers and students of the university said that cancellation of the holiday for Eid, advisories not to wear black clothes, announcement of extra attendance for students who attend the function, threats couched as advisories to teachers that photographs of attendees would be uploaded on college and University websites “reveal the mindset of the University administration whose only preoccupation seems to be to please their political masters.”

Nandita Narain, president, Democratic Teachers Front, and a signatory to the statement said: “Teachers raised important issues such as: the implementation of the FYUP with no grants, the withdrawal of grants and forcing universities to take loans from HEFA, the NEP and it's fallout of increasing costs due to commercialization of education, the manner in which hundreds of serving ad hoc teachers have been displaced from their jobs, the CUET which has further marginalised those who already found it difficult to make it to higher education, Old Pension Scheme for all, grants for releasing arrears and pensions to teachers.”

N Sachin, from Collective Teachers Front, told NewsClick that larger questions plaguing the country that need the government's immediate attention were also raised, prominently the situation in Manipur where the state and the Central government are mute spectators to the widespread violence causing loss of lives and property, the blatant protection of sexual offenders highlighted by the women wrestlers as well as the larger question of academic autonomy and freedom in institutions across the country.

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