On December 15th, when students from all walks of life were protesting against the implementation of CAA across the country, there was a sudden eruption of violence in the form of police brutality.

The incident left over 50 students injured and 100 students detained without permission in the national capital.  

Police officials forcefully entered Jamia Milia Islamia University without a warrant and bombarded the campus firing teargas in enclosed spaces, gunshots and lathi-charge. Similar cases were reported in Aligarh Muslim University of Uttar Pradesh.  

The incident stirred a furious wave of unrest and debate among citizens and caught international media attention.  

In an open letter addressed to the Indian government, some of the brightest minds from Harvard University stood in solidarity with the students of Jamia and AMU as they address the “violent suppression of protestors”. 

In the open letter, the faculty from Harvard stood with the students marching against CAA and emphasised on how protests are the basic essence of democracy: 

Protests and dissent are inherent to democracy. Protests are inconvenient and disruptive, but they sustain the secular and democratic fabric of our nation. 
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They further spoke up about the ruthless police brutality against students who were involved in peaceful protests. In a recent report by NDTV, 10 people were arrested for the violence in Jamia and none of them were students. 

The violent suppression of protesters by the police, the use of tear gas, lathi charges, and physical assault in response to peaceful dissent, and the police forces’ forceful entry into university campuses and consequent internet blockades there are all deeply reprehensible. 

Alongside tear gas, lathi charge and firing, sexual abuse against women by police officials was also brought to light. The letter also mentioned: 

We are shocked and deeply concerned about many of the anecdotal reports being shared on police brutality aimed at breaking the spirit of protesters including anecdotes of police attacks on female protesters. 

The letter from Harvard also took us back to our roots to remind us about the Gandhian ideology of non-violence and the concept of peaceful protests is deeply embedded in our history and heritage: 

India won it’s independence — in the face of repression and brutality — through peaceful protests. The Gandhian ideal of ahimsa is thus rooted in the very fabric of our society.