Hundreds of students and youth had gathered at Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow on 25 July 2017 under the banners of AISA and RYA to hold a ‘Save Democracy’ march from Lucknow University to the Vidhan Sabha to protest against the massive slashing of the education budgets and attacks on employment by the Yogi Government, several instances of atrocities and violence against Dalits and women, and to demand equal education and democratic rights. They held a meeting at Lucknow University Gate No. 1 at which speakers raised the following demands: measures to curb the growing incidents of rape, loot and murder in the State; strict action against those guilty of escalating communal violence; unconditional and immediate release of Bhim Army leader Chandrashekhar Azad; revoking the false cases slapped on Lucknow University students who showed black flags against Yogi Adityanath; revoking the budget cuts for education and making available quality education to all students free of cost; revoking job cuts and making available dignified employment to the unemployed.

After the meeting the activists were about to begin their march when they were stopped by the police; they protested against this and started raising slogans against Modi and Yogi. The police then beat and pushed them and finally arrested them. Women students were among those beaten and arrested. They were taken by bus to Police Lines.

Under arrest at Police Lines these young people remained uncrushed. They held another meeting then and there amidst revolutionary songs and slogans. Meanwhile, activists and supporters started gathering at Police Lines to demand release of their comrades, and the police had to release the arrested activists.

AISA State Secretary Sunil Maurya, RYA State Secretary Rakesh Singh, AISA leader Nitin Raj (who spent 27 days in jail for showing black flags to CM Adityanath), AISA State President Antas, RYA State President Atiq Ahmed, and others spoke at the meeting. Students and youth from all parts of UP participated in the protest and were among those arrested.

After being released, AISA and RYA leaders stated clearly that they would not be intimidated by the repressive actions of the BJP-RSS and would continue to call out the government on issues of students’ rights and democracy.

The Uttar Pradesh State unit of the CPI(ML) has strongly condemned the arrest of the AISA-RYA activists who were taking out the ‘Save Democracy’ march and said that the Yogi government is trying to crush the voices of dissent and debate in the Assembly as well as on the streets.