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Police action on students campaigning for poll boycott 'assault on dissent'

Counterview Desk 

The civil rights network* Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), has said that the police action against members of the Bhagat Singh Chhatra Ekta Manch (bsCEM) in Delhi University (DU) campus for putting up wall paintings asking people to boycott elections is an assault on democratic right of citizens to express their view.
CASR said, "The ABVP also put up posters and wallpapers across the DU campus space. These wall paintings and posters stuck by the ABVP contain slogans that are outrightly Islamophobic." Noting that no action was taken against ABVP, it wondered, why this double standard.
Students from Bhagat Singh Chhatra Ekta Manch (bsCEM) did their wall-painting campaign on 24th of May. They have propagated the idea of election boycott through these wall paintings. The Delhi University (DU) administration joined together with ABVP, the student organization of RSS, to lodge a complaint against these students. 
The police lodged an FIR on these students under the defacement act. Baadal, the President of bsCEM, and Uthara, another member of bsCEM, was taken away by the police while their exams were going on. The police picked them up from Delhi school of journalism, the college were these two students are pursuing their education in. 
Later, Dev and Gourav, two other students affiliated with bsCEM, were also picked up by the police. These students were abducted by policemen in plain clothes and were kept in the police station in the name of questioning for six to seven hours. 
Later, they were released by the police forces, but only after student organizations assembled outside the police station for the release of these individuals. They were also asked to arrive at the police station, on a later date, for ‘further questioning’.
The right to boycott elections is a democratic right of each citizen of the country, just like how each citizen of the country has a democratic right to vote. Residence Welfare Associations in Noida, sector 46 and sector 75, and sector 2 of Greater Noida have decided to boycott elections until their registries are done. 
This call for an election boycott has happened in a situation where 58% of the country has expressed their distrust in the election process and the EVM machines according to a recent survey. The attack by the ABVP and right wing forces on bsCEM for propagating election boycott is therefore, an attack on the democratic rights of these students, and an attack on their freedom of expression. 
The DU administration and the police officials have also taken part in this repression of their democratic rights. The ABVP has also put up posters and wallpapers across the DU campus space. These wall paintings and posters stuck by the ABVP contain slogans that are outrightly Islamophobic. Other student organizations have also done postering and wall-painting in the walls of DU. 
The Islamophobic slogans of ABVP, put up on DU walls, which can incite riots, did not face any action
Although this has been the case, the DU administration filed a complaint, and the police lodged the FIR only on these students who campaigned for election boycott. Therefore, it's clear that it's a targeted attack on these students for propagating a particular stance. The Islamophobic slogans of ABVP, which can incite riots, did not face any action. 
The steps taken by the police also reflect this attack on dissent. For charges that lead to a fine of about Rs 500, these students were abducted by the state forces and kept in police custody for 6-7 hours in the name of questioning. Two of these students were in the midst of their exams when they were abducted by the state forces. 
These disproportionate steps taken in the name of investigation are for intimidation of the students. They have been asked to come back on a later date, and this clearly shows that the police want to further intimidate students. The police, the university and ABVP are playing the role of a seamless machine, which efficiently oppresses the students. 
This is happening in a time when the state is using tools like the administrations of the universities and the police force to crush dissent within the campus space, and to ensure the complete saffronisation of the education sector under policies such as the New Education Policy. The police are serving the interests of the fascist state, and curbing the right to democratically dissent and the right to freedom of speech that these students have.
CASR strongly condemns this attack on the democratic right of the students and demands the revoking of this FIR on bsCEM and an end to this intimidatory tactics of the police in the name of Investigation.
*AIRSO,AISA, AISF, APCR, BASF, BSM, Bhim Army, bsCEM, CEM, CRPP, CTF, , DISSC, DSU, DTF, Forum Against Repression Telangana, Fraternity ,IAPL, Innocence Network, Karnataka Janashakti, LAA,Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan, Mazdoor Patrika, , NAPM, , Nishant Natya Manch, Nowruz, NTUI, People’s Watch, Rihai Manch, Samajwadi Janparishad,Smajwadi lok manch, Bahujan Samjavadi Mnach, SFI, United Against Hate, United Peace Alliance, WSS,Y4S



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