New Delhi: As students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi are protesting against a steep hostel fee hike, their counterparts in Pakistani universities seem to be mirroring them.
A video of some students of Pakistani universities chanting ‘azadi’ slogans went viral on social media a few days ago. They were protesting at the Faiz Literary Festival held on 19 November in Lahore.
— Reham Khan (@RehamKhan1) November 17, 2019
Azadi chants were raised in India, too — in 2016 by former JNU student and CPI leader Kanhaiya Kumar and others.
The students at the literary festival in Pakistan were protesting against alleged government interference in colleges, fee hike, budget cuts and lack of student housing. The students are demanding the restoration of student unions, “de-securitisation” of campuses, end to harassment, among others.
“There have been budget cuts in the public education sector, which means no scholarships, fee hikes, raised costs of transportation, etc,” Tooba Syed, a Pakistani student and activist, told ThePrint.
We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.
Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.
The students seen protesting on 19 November are members of the leftist Progressive Student Collective. A bigger protest — Student Solidarity March — has been planned on 29 November to be organised by Progressive Students’ Federation (PRSF).
Don't just say 'I wish these students well' and 'I hope they are successful in their struggle.' Come out and stand with them on November 29th and help amplify their voices! #StudentsSolidarityMarch pic.twitter.com/7LRbXFqQjH
— Nida Kirmani (@nidkirm) November 20, 2019
“The marches that will be held across the country are for students’ right to unionisation, and free and quality education for all, among other demands,” said Syed.
“We are marching against the system which labels us as ‘Terrorists’ for demanding clean water on campus. Puts us behind bars for opposing the dictatorship of administration on campus. We demand our right to exist with dignity,” PRSF tweeted.
We are marching against the system which labels us as "Terrorists" for demanding clean water on campus. Puts us behind bars for opposing dictatorship of administration on campus. We demand our right to exist with dignity.
Poster By: @jaquelintzin#StudentsSolidarityMarch pic.twitter.com/elAOh9MlY5
— PRSF (@ProgStudentsFed) November 19, 2019
The PRSF was referring to an incident this week in which at least 17 students of Sindh University, Jamshoro, were booked under sedition charges for allegedly raising anti-Pakistan slogans.
13 University of Sindh Jamshoro students including 4 @ProgStudentsFed members, have been charged with sedition for protesting for clean water. This criminalization of students, especially in Sindh & Balochistan, is unacceptable. #StudentsSolidarityMarch #StudentRightsNow pic.twitter.com/CHj549T8bH
— Ammar Rashid ☭ (@AmmarRashidT) November 19, 2019
Similar protest held last year
While the video of the 19 November protest has garnered a lot of attention on social media, this is not the first time such as protest was held — a similar protest was held last year in 16 different cities.
According to a report in the Asian Marxist Review, several progressive student organisations from all over Pakistan formed Student Action Committee to demand the restoration of student unions, representation of students in management and increase in the education budget.
According to the students, the Imran Khan-led PTI government had left “educational campuses and students abandoned, dejected and directionless”, the report stated.
News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it
You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.
You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.
We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.
At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.
This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.
If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.