“”Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and, under a just God, cannot long retain it” ― Abraham Lincoln
Almost 144 hours into their protest, students of Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur, are yet to receive any official communication accepting their demands. An interim VC was appointed on August 29 who hasn’t addressed the issues at hand, despite giving verbal assurances regarding his support for the student body of the university. He was appointed without much time to prepare to solve the immediate problems.
This protest isn’t against the echelons of power in the institution, but against those who arbitrarily occupy such positions, without any regard or concern for anyone but themselves. In an age where transparency and accountability are two of the pillars of modern society, an institution which serves as the learning place for Arts and Law is governed in a manner which would seek many to doubt human decency itself. Hundreds of allegations against existing office bearers in the university administration have led to them continuing in their offices even on the 7th day of the protest. George Orwell said, “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” This is precisely the right which the students are currently exercising.
Confined within their halls of residence after 10:30pm in the night even when the campus is safely secured by a walled perimeter and guards who are stationed 24×7, the students are discriminated on the basis of their genders. The wardens continually harass the female students with regard to matters concerning clothing, walking, etc. After 11 pm, the female students are confined to their rooms aren’t allowed to sit in a friend’s room for any purpose. Furthermore, the university has made no provision for food between 10:30 pm and 7:00 am, and the female students aren’t even allowed to order food from nearby eateries. The library, which is one of the most important places in a law school, is closed at 10:00 pm every night and the students are expected to stop whatever research they were doing and put it off until the next morning at 10:00 am when the library opens again. The administration cites safety and security as reasons for locking up students inside their halls of residence. Benjamin Franklin said, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
It can be shocking to read of such gender discrimination in our generation, but this is the sad truth about this age. Most liberals today are closet conservatives, and the system provides for anonymous representation of opinion which helps us easily maintain two faces.
Students of the university sat on the roads outside the administrative building through the night, and they even boycotted two days’ classes. Following this, the interim VC requested resumption of the classes with the promise of dialogue and subsequent action on the matters at hand. However, even after respecting his wish of attending classes for two days, the students are yet to see any official action on their demands. The students continue to repose their faith in the interim VC and his promises to solve this whole matter quickly.
Lies spread by persons in the administration portrayed a peaceful flashlight march as a ‘lynch mob’ which ‘terrorised’ and ‘scared’ them and their families. Everyone seems to have forgotten the right to peaceful assembly.
This fight is not against persons, but against what these persons represent. The student body of HNLU has collectively refused to bow down to the corruption and discrimination which has been rampant in not just this university, but many more in this country. It is this approach to governance, the God-complex of those seated in positions of responsibility, and their absolute apathy towards those who they are meant to be responsible for, that has finally burst the pot which was simmering for so long. Hypocrisy stands tall when those who teach the rule of law act outside the scope of the law and expect no action to be taken against them because of their absolute confidence in the rot in the system, in which they’ve taken positions as content parasites.
Is it too much to ask for access to the campus at all times for which the students pay the prescribed fees? Equal treatment for all students regardless of gender? Accountability and transparency in an institution which teaches the constitution of our nation? What use is legal education when the institutions which impart such teaching themselves do not care to follow the rule of law?
It is yet to be seen if freedom and truth will defeat the establishment of deceit, lies and disgusting levels of corruption. However, it is the fight that is still left in those who stand for truth that inspires them. As Nelson Mandela said, “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” So, the protest continues and will continue until the voices are heard, and until freedom emerges the victor.