Jamia Millia Islamia has been my home for the last 5 years. In 2014, I came to Delhi as a naive 20-year-old who had never gone out of his city or lived without family, many of you might have had the same experience living in a new city. But Jamia made me always feel at home, the people, the canteens, the library, the roads and the lush gardens where winter mornings were spent for classes. The attack on Jamia was not only a politically relevant event for me, but it was also a personal trauma caused even in absence. I was not inside the campus when the incidents transpired, but from what I have heard from friends, it violated the right to safety and equality. As I write this, news coming in on the fact-finding report on Jamia violence and just reading about it makes one shiver. The maximum force used to exert maximum destruction. I heard from an acquaintance inside campus who was present on the night of violence. As he narrated the eyewitness account, my insecurity inside the campus kept increasing. All I could think of was, it could have been me. I could have been there inside the library when all of it happened. I could have been detained, beaten up and psychologically traumatized for years to come. It was apparent from his narration that he felt insecure too. He said they came inside the library using abusive, discriminatory language, exerting force through lathi and teargas and affected a generation of readers to be afraid of the library. In my opinion, this is not a singular effort, this is an effort to erase our intellectual capabilities because that way, they would make inroads in every mind and imprint the thought of a fascistic idea of nationhood. An idea of nationhood quite different from what our forefathers had in mind for our country. An idea of nationhood we never grew up with, since we never thought of it along the religious lines. I grew up in a syncretic culture where Muslims, Hindus, and every other religion lived amicably, where the puja sounds do not silence the azaan, where the Christmas carols resound in Hindu colonies.
Now let’s get back to Jamia, it all started with CAA/NRC and the protests against it. Our university has maintained that the students were protesting peacefully, but teargas and lathi charge was used irrespective. It was not something new. Students have been targeted in this regime and also in regimes before this. The students are an easy target, but they are also the most active voices of society. You silence one group, three others raise their voices. And that’s what has happened in the aftermath. Many colleges, institutions, and universities have raised voices and continue to do so across the world. This is not a revolution that should stop, it should bring some results, otherwise, the whole purpose and intent of the violence would be justified. You will move on, they will move on, but we, students of Jamia, AMU, and others won’t be able to so easily. The last time I went to my campus, I felt unsafe, insecure. As I walked onto the road towards my department, the broken glass on the floor, the red liquid dried up, the footprints from their shoes were all an indication of the tragedy that they went through. The whole campus is laden with Graphitis now, a form of art that is anti-establishment, anti-authoritarian. My friends and co-workers are afraid to speak about things inside the campus because as they say, even walls have ears. There was heavy deployment nearby the campus, and one could not negate the chances that violence could’ve transpired. Jamia and others would take years to recover, years to make its students feel safe, years of yearning to be a safe space.
What is CAA/CAB?
The Citizenship Amendment Act, now, Citizenship Amendment Bill, seeks to provide shelter and citizenship to people from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh based on their religion. The Central government has made it clear (including a tweet by our honorable Home Minister Shah) that everyone who follows Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other religions, except for Islam, would be provided citizenship owing to their minority status in the countries mentioned. They argue that since these countries are Muslim-majority countries, Muslims don’t need citizenship in India. But, hardly do they know, that persecuted individual isn’t persecuted only based on their religion. A case in point is the Ahmadis in Pakistan.
What is NRC?
National Register of Citizenship seeks to identify illegal migrants, but what is so dangerous about NRC is the fact that in Assam, where it has been implemented, most of the ‘illegal migrants’ are poor, trans-people, women and disenfranchised communities who have no access to proper paperwork. If NRC on its own can wreak such havoc among the poorest and marginalized communities of the country, imagine what NRC and CAA would do together. It would not only render poor people state-less but will target one particular community and make them non-Indians based on bureaucratic what-foolery!
Are NRC and NPR the same?
National Population Register is not the same as NRC, but it might be called the stepping stone of NRC. NPR, under the current regime, has included clauses that seek to identify you based on religion, caste, etc. This again goes against the fabric of the secular and socialist nature of our country.
How does it affect you?
Today, it seeks to bar one religion, tomorrow it will come for others! Remember that this is all being done in preparation for the creation of a Hindu Rashtra based on the ideologies of Hindutva/RSS. Any and every disenfranchised community, be it queer, Dalit, tribal, OBC, Muslim, Christian, non-savarna Hindus, etc, would come under the lens someday or the other. Once they are done with the Muslims, they will come for the Dalits, then for the Queers, then for the Trans, then for others, in no particular order. Reports of the detention center, mob-violence, etc should shake everyone to the core, because that resounds Nazi Germany, and no one would like to be in a country like that. If we don’t raise our voice to stop this blatant disrespect to the secular nature of our country, then they will be able to go ahead with their plans of making this country a majoritarian fascistic nation, where anyone who is not high caste would be persecuted. Anyone who questions would be silenced. Anyone who fights will be jailed! To end it, as I was writing this article, there came the news that Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s Hum Dekhenge was being examined by a panel in IIT Kanpur for being anti-Hindu! I wish people would understand the threat to freedom of speech, expression, and opinion this regime throws onto the public. I wish people would open their eyes to the politics of hate and raise their voices. If you can’t take to streets, take to your social media. Make your presence felt and make your voice count! Azaadi is not a given condition; it must be fought for and won!