The history of student protests in India goes back well into the pre-independence era. The first student protest in undivided India took place in 1920 in King Edward Medical College, Lahore, against academic discrimination between Indian and English pupils. Since independence, every major political party has also had a student wing. However, it is the independent student protests that show the democratic spirit of the country. Here are five of the biggest student protests in India that shook the nation.
2016 JNU Student Protests
The 2016 student protests at Jawaharlal Nehru University started against the 2013 hanging of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. However, the protest soon saw the freedom of speech and the freedom to criticise the government being threatened. In the face of this threat, students from universities all over the nation expressed solidarity with the students of Jawaharlal Nehru University. They also protested the arrest of the Students’ Union President Kanhaiya Kumar, as well as student leader Umar Khalid.
The 2016 student protests at Jawaharlal Nehru University started against the 2013 hanging of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.
Jadavpur University saw one of the largest student protests in the country in the year 2014. The protests emerged from the overlooking of a molestation case. Students also went on a hunger strike. Two rallies in Kolkata saw a turnout of 5000 and 10000 students in support of the cause. It also culminated in nearly 100 students refusing to take their degrees during the convocation. The students also burnt effigies of the VC. Ultimately, the VC, Abhijit Chakrabarti, resigned.
In 2015, Jamia Millia Islamia issued a notice cancelling late nights for girl’s hostel residents. This triggered something unprecedented. Two students, Devangana Kalita and Shambhavi Vikram Singh began a Delhi-based campaign called #PinjraTod: Break the hostel locks. The movement grew. Women students from all over the city began protesting the discriminatory hostel regulations. From Patiala to Hyderabad, women students refused to be chained by sexist rules on campus. The Pinjra Tod movement also reached campuses like Maulana Azad National Urdu University Hyderabad as well as Ram Manohar Lohia National Law University Lucknow.
Two students, Devangana Kalita and Shambhavi Vikram Singh began a Delhi-based campaign called #PinjraTod: Break the hostel locks in 2015.
Student Protests Over Rohith Vemula’s Death
The suicide of Dalit PhD scholar Rohith Vemula in 2016 triggered nationwide outrage. He was a student of Hyderabad University. The suicide took place after the university’s executive council expelled five Dalit students, including Vemula. Students all over the country protested against the university administration over alleged failure to prevent his suicide. Hundreds of students from universities across India also participated in protest rallies.
JNU Fee Hike Protests
Last month, hundreds of JNU students marched on the streets to protest the hike in fees. The students said any hike in their fee would mean a direct hit on those coming from underprivileged backgrounds. They protested against the decision, demanding its revocation. The protests spread to other institutions like IIT Mumbai as well as Kolkata’s Jadavpur University. All students joined hands to march on the streets against unnecessary hikes in education fees that ultimately curb the freedom for everyone to seek the education which they are entitled to.
Image Credit: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters
Prapti is an intern at SheThePeople.TV