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Attack on foreign students: Gujarat govt failed to prevent hate driven criminals, says PUCL

Counterview Desk 
India's top human rights group, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), in a representation to the Police Commissioner, Ahmedabad City, stating that the attack on the foreign Muslim students in the Gujarat University hostel during night time on the 16th of March, 2024 is a "matter of extreme concern and shame for Gujarat", has said, "It is unfortunate that the State government has not been able to prevent such hate driven criminals from unleashing."
Noting that the "dastardly attack on foreign Muslim students" left several of them injured, PUCL, Gujarat, said, "The videos reveal that the police were present when the perpetrators left after the attack; the officials who failed in taking action should be investigated into and appropriate punitive action taken for this serious failure to uphold the rule of law..."


We, the office bearers of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Gujarat, are writing this letter to share our deep concern regarding the recent attack on Muslim students in the Gujarat University Hostel.  
The attack on the foreign Muslim students in Gujarat University Hostel during night time on the 16th of March, 2024, is a matter of extreme concern and shame for Gujarat in particular and India in general. These foreign students have come to secure higher education in Indian universities, reposting trust in the secular credentials and the rule of law in India. It is unfortunate that the Gujarat government has not been able to prevent such hate driven criminals from unleashing such a dastardly attack on foreign Muslim students leaving several of them injured.   
The fact that these students were attacked for offering namaz (Taraweeh prayers) during the month of Ramadan, makes it even worse, an act of religious hatred which goes against the very secular foundation of our Constitution, and the freedom of religion and belief it enshrines.   
In our country which takes pride in its cultural legacy of "Atithi Devo Bhava", it is imperative that the Gujarat University and the Government of Gujarat reaches out to these guests and proactively make arrangements for them in their hostels to offer prayers and break their Ramadan fast in a manner that is convenient for them as well as other students in the hostel. But with this brutal attack on these students, it raises questions as to the commitment of the Gujarat University towards the security and safety of its students, particularly of the foreign students who are most vulnerable in the face of several hate (mob) crimes that have been perpetrated in recent times.  
PUCL Gujarat demands that: 
1. While we welcome the swift action of the police in apprehending two of the accused, they should pursue and apprehend the remaining people of the mob that unleashed this dastardly attack without any further delay and set the process of investigation and prosecution in motion, in a time-bound manner. 
2. The videos reveal that the police were present when the perpetrators left after the attack; the officials who failed in taking action should be investigated into and appropriate punitive action taken for this serious failure to uphold the rule of law.
3. The injured students should be given the best of medical treatment and immediate compensation for any personal loss and damage to their belongings. 
4. The Gujarat University authorities should call a meeting with all foreign students immediately to reassure them about their safety and security and ensure the deployment of adequate police force on campus to prevent any further hate crimes against students. A SOP for the University authorities to follow along with the internal security forces within the University campus and the police, should be developed urgently. 
5. The authorities should designate professors and students’ representatives to reach out the international students, particularly Muslim students to reassure them and assist them in making arrangements for spaces for namaz and breaking of the fast during the month of Ramadan, in a manner that is convenient to them as well as the other inmates of the hostel. 
6. The Gujarat government through the DGP needs to assess the safety and security of foreign students, particularly Muslim students from such hate mobs from both within and without the campus and take urgent action for their protection.  
7. The University must take efforts to uphold equality and dignity of all students, including by sensitising students on constitutional values of equality, secularism, pluralism and tolerance and also putting in place anti-discrimination policy and cell to receive grievances. 
-- Adv Govind Parmar, President; Gova Rathod, General Secretary, PUCL (Gujarat)



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