‘We’re all judged by what we do at home…: MEA on pro-Palestine protests at US universities

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NEW DELHI: On the pro-Palestine protests at Columbia University and other universities in the US, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday said that there should be a right balance between freedom of expression and sense of responsibility, adding that the democratic country is judged by what we do at home and not what we say abroad”.

MEA spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said, “We have seen reports on the matter and have been following related events. In every democracy, there has to be the right balance between freedom of expression, a sense of responsibility and public safety and order. Democracies in particular should display this understanding in regard to other fellow democracies. After all, we are all judged by what we do at home and not what we say abroad”.

Asked whether it is a concern for India as Indian students study in US universities, he said, “As far as your question regarding Indian students is concerned, we are always in touch with Indian students and as and when there are issues which have to be resolved, we will look into it”.

Colleges across the United States are grappling with escalating unrest as pro-Palestinian protests sweep through their campuses, prompting administrators to implement unprecedented measures to address the intensifying situation, CNN reported.

Protesters at Columbia University, where demonstrations ignited last week, demand the severance of ties with Israeli academic institutions and complete divestment from entities linked to Israel amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict.

At the University of Texas in Austin, over 30 arrests were made during protests, while around 50 protesters were arrested at the University of Southern California following a dispersal order from the police.

Negotiations between Columbia University officials and protesters regarding the clearance of encampments on campus have been described as “unstable” by Esha Karam, managing director of Columbia Daily Spectator, citing student organisers. Talks have been extended for 48 hours, but the outcome remains uncertain.

“We’re about halfway through that extended deadline of 48 hours and we heard from organizers on the student front earlier today in a press conference who told us that the negotiations are ongoing so unstable at the moment,” Karam told CNN. There’s still around another 24 hours to go until the extended deadline “but really after that, we don’t really know where things are going”, Karam added.

The California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt campus, faces continued closure as protesters, including unidentified non-students, occupy two buildings. School officials have expressed concerns over safety hazards and property damage, with plans to keep the campus closed for an extended period.

With the surge in protests, US House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson called for the resignation of Columbia University’s president amid ongoing demonstrations sparked by pro-Palestinian sentiments at major American universities, CNN reported.

House Speaker Mike Johnson emphasised the need for order on campus, stating that if the university president cannot restore calm, she should resign, CNN reported. However, students have expressed varied viewpoints on this call for resignation, with some expressing willingness to continue working with her. (ANI)

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