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Students from major central universities across the country witnessed protest gatherings on Saturday where they urged the central government to declare Kerala floods as a national disaster. Student unions of these universities also came up with a statement condemning the negligence of the central government towards the situation in the state.

One of the first institutes to give the protest call was IIT-Bombay. University of Hyderabad and Jawaharlal Nehru University followed suit soon after. The protest started from Friday midnight and saw good participation from the side of students.

University of Hyderabad

Addressing the crowd that gathered at Velivada (North Shopcom) of University of Hyderabad, Ph.D. Scholar B. Arundathi said, “The situation is really out of control and we need the central government to take proper action. When you request for 6000 crores and when you are given 100 crores, that itself shows the apathy towards the state.” The protest sparked off in the wake of PM Modi’s visit to Kerala. Students expressed their extreme dissatisfaction in the negligence shown towards the state by the central government and the national media.

The state is experiencing the worst floods that it has seen in the last 100 years. All 14 districts of the state were placed on red alert and were affected by the flood. The death toll stood at 370 and the loss is estimated to be more than 20,000 crores. The state has also opened 1500 relief camps which are accommodating more than 2.23 lakh survivors. Even in such a situation, the central government has not declared the calamity to be a national disaster nor provided the state with enough relief or rescue team. Though the state had asked for an immediate relief of 2000 crores, the center sanctioned only 500 crores.

“We are demanding a very basic thing. Justice is not done in Kerala and we demand it. Right now, the PM is there in Kerala. If you are waiting for your PR work to be done and then send help, that is not what we expect. Save our lives and then do your PR,” Arundathi added.

IIT Bombay and EFLU

Courtesy: Sabu KT

A statement issued by the students of IIT Bombay read, “We hope our action, together with the cries of the stranded people, will make the government, civil society, media and our fellow countrymen to be attentive to this crisis situation in its full sincerity. We request immediate deployment of armed personnel, necessary supplies, and increased relief funds that befit a national calamity.” The gathering at IIT-Bombay happened at 3 AM in the morning in front of the admin block.

English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU) students also aligned with the ongoing protests. “As we have very little time before such neglect leads to a monumental disaster, we have resolved to come together and express our anguish to the nation. In solidarity with the ongoing efforts of the students from IIT Bombay, University of Hyderabad and Jawaharlal Nehru University, we call for prompt and decisive action in providing relief to the affected,” the statement read.

Jawaharlal Nehru University

Following the trail of protests, students of JNU also gathered together at 4 am in the morning. The protest in Delhi continued on Saturday morning. The plan of action was to march from Home Ministry. “The people of Kerala should never forgive Modi Government for the manner in which it has treated them as second-class citizens in this moment of crisis,” said Umar Khalid in his Facebook post requesting the students to participate in the protest gathering.

However, the bus carrying students from the campus was stopped by the Delhi Police. The students were beaten and forced to get off from the bus. The police also forced them to conduct the protest at Jantar Mantar. Later, the protesters were detained and sent to parliament street police station.

Students across universities are also coordinating with various groups in Kerala to send relief materials to the disaster-stricken state. Meanwhile, in Kerala, as the rain subsides, the focus has now shifted to rehabilitation measures and providing aid.

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