Mumbai: In the first reaction from a senior union minister on the police action against students of Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia and the Aligarh Muslim University that left at least 300 injured, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said citizens should be wary of “jihadists, Maoists and separatists” getting into student activism.
Herself a student activist, Sitharaman made this assertion despite later adding that she was “not aware” of the events that transpired at the university over the weekend.
The finance minister also hit out at the Congress, saying that the party’s whipping up people's emotions on issues like the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) only shows its frustration.
She also said that activism per se is not new to universities and attributed the same to idealism that guides a student because of his/her age.
At least 200 students of the Jamia Millia Islamia were on Sunday night injured in police action as cops entered the campus, lobbed tear gas shells, dragged students from the university’s library and allegedly assaulted them. The alleged brutal assault has sparked a nationwide agitation, as students from universities all across India came out on the streets to protest against the police crackdown.
Earlier in the day, minister of state for home affairs, G Kishan Reddy, also sought to blame foreign forces for the protests at university campuses across India, but did not elaborate when he was asked to clarify.
“I have not seen the videos of police atrocities against students. But I want to tell the students and people of the particular religion who are protesting there is no need to protest against CAA,” he said.
On Sunday afternoon, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also accused the Congress and its allies of fuelling violence over the amended Citizenship Act, and remarked that those indulging in arson "can be identified by their clothes".
An earlier version of the story had a headline that wrongly interpreted the finance minister’s statement. The error is regretted.