A Raised Fisted Red Salute, To My Alma Mater, St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University For Protesting Against Fascism In India

Stephanians pic
(Photo | Parveen Negi| The New Indian Express)

Kudos to students of St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University, Delhi for protesting in the campus against fascism on 8 January, 2020. Almost the entire college walked out in protest and marched towards other colleges where more students joined. It was the collective decision of students of this college. This was an unprecedented political outrage by the students. They raised the following slogans:

  • Azaadi, Azaadi (Freedom, Freedom)
  • Gunda politics down down
  • Police brutality ka ek Javab, Inqalaab Zindabad
  • Students against fascism

The protest was against the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens; in solidarity with JNU and students of other universities. The students saw the Union Government’s latest move to be against the rights of Muslims and people from the North Eastern States.

As an alumni of this college (1981-1984) pursuing BA (Honours) in Philosophy, I see this protest as a quantum jump in the process of politicisation of the students and teachers. Memories go four decades back when in 1981 women students of St. Stephen’s college faced rowdyism and sexual harassment during the festival of Holi at the hands of male students from another college. From this incident was born the first women’s movement against sexual harassment in Delhi University. A small group of us women published a pamphlet against sexual harassment of women students in the university and hooliganism. We went around colleges distributing the pamphlet and raise awareness. At some colleges reaction from male students was very hostile and women students were scared to talk openly. The then college Principal seized our pamphlets from the ‘ladies common room’ and kept these in his custody. He also locked up the ladies common room to prevent us from holding our meetings there. But our campaign continued in the form of street theatre on women’s issues for next 5-6 years. Students from other colleges also joined. Initially we were denied permission to perform our street play called “Ahsaas” inside the St. Stephen’s college premises. So in protest we performed it outside the back gate of the college. Later we were permitted to perform it on the college lawns.

Yesterday’s boycotting of classes by students of St. Stephen’s College and coming out in protest march with girl students in the fore front is in sync with what is happening all over the country. Of course the hijab (veil) clad girls and women have become the symbol of resistance in this fight against fascism. Equally true girls and women from all communities have shown support and solidarity. Boys and men are present in large numbers in protest all over the country. Once again a Lal Salaam to my alma mater!

Shobha Aggarwal is a Delhi based lawyer and activist. Email: [email protected]


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