The Students’ Union of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai and many students’ organizations in TISS including Adivasi Students’ Forum, Ambedkarite Students’ Association, Fraternity Movement, Muslim Students’ Forum, Muslim Youth Voices, Northeast Students’ Forum, Progressive Students’ Forum, Spaceless Collective and Queer Collective on Thursday issued a statement condemning the witch-hunting of TISS student Kris Chudawala, who was booked for sedition for raising slogans in solidarity with Sharjeel Imam at a queer pride gathering at Azad Maidan, last week
Acting on the sloganeering allegedly in solidarity with JNU student Sharjeel Imam, the Azad Maidan Police in Maharashtra on Saturday registered a case against 50-60 people under sedition. One of the accused has been identified as Kris Chudawala, associated with TISS Queer Collective and student of second-year MA in media and culture at Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS).
“We condemn the maligning of our institute and our students for participating in protest and rallies, which is a right given to us by our constitution in the Democratic Republic of India,” the joint statement reads.
“In a judgment of the Honourable Supreme Court, it is held that only raising slogans cannot constitute sedition unless there is an implicit threat of violence. Using these charges to curb the dissenting voices of the oppressed is highly condemnable. Sedition itself is an out-dated colonial law, which has and continues to be used against minorities, human rights defenders, civil rights activists, and other dissenters as a political tool,” the students’ union says.
“In the same pride gathering, Kris also read out ‘The Preamble of the Constitution of India’, which was witnessed by all the people present in Azad Maidan on the day of Mumbai Pride 2020, thereby negating all claims of them being anti-national,” the statement reads.
The union vehemently criticize the narrative of the media and the individuals that have labeled and portrayed Kris as an adversary to their own community, as an ‘outsider’ in a gathering where they had the right to be present.
Meanwhile, a sessions court in Mumbai on Wednesday rejected the anticipatory bail application of Kris Chudawala. The court, in its observation, found the offense serious in nature.
“This is very clearly politically motivating and the BJP is trying to play with our education, career, and future. We vehemently condemn the political persecution of a young trans student who has been targeted and outed on national media. Such kind of targeting of trans students also amounts to hate crime,” students of TISS alleged.
The Students’ Union also condemns the sedition charges on Akhil Gogoi, JNU student Sharjeel Imam, and the students of Shaheen School in Bidar for doing a play on CAA among others and demands the immediate release of those arrested.
The students’ union and students’ groups strongly urge the student community and the civil society and civil rights activists to come out in their support and demand that the FIR against Kris Chudawala and others be dropped immediately.