Mohd. Aasif | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI — Amid the protests against the CAA and NRC, students of Jamia Millia Islamia observed the one-month ‘anniversary’ of the police crackdown on the varsity campus, at an event held at Gate 7. They have given the call for a Jamia Chalo. The event was participated by more than 20 groups and student organisations from across the country.
The swelling of the crowd on Wednesday seemed more vivid than was the case in the earlier days. Flags of different colours added to the looks of the gathering.
Notably, even as people have differences on political grounds, they group together and oppose the CAA and NRC in one voice. Calling the new citizenship law ‘anti-national’, Sukhdev Singh of the Bhartiya Kisan Ekta Union from Punjab says that the government is undercutting the cause of national unity. The group affirmed its solidarity with JNU and Shaheen Bagh protesters.
It has been a month since the police ransacked the library at Jamia Millia Islamia University. The horror of the crackdown still haunts the students. Recalling the day, Mustafa says, “Even today, every knock at the door of my house reminds me of the ‘thud’ of the police lathi.” Mustafa is an IAS aspirant and pursuing a repeat MA.
Parents of Mustafa do not favour giving a statement to the National Human Rights Commission team, as they fear the police would target them later.
The Jamia incident has brought a lot of changes in Mustafa. Addressing the gathering, he says it does not matter if you are an activist or not, you anyway have to face the wrath of the police. Mustafa was reading books in the library when he was beaten up by the police. “My arms and fingers got broken as I tried hard to save my head,” says Mustafa.
Mustafa was not the only one with bandages. Aishe Gosh, JNU Students Union president, also appeared at the gathering with plaster on one of her hands and bandage on her forehead. Referring to the attacks on Jamia and JNU, she calls for more solidarity between Jamia and Aligarh Muslim University. She believes that students at these universities were communally targeted. “Youths are not being treated as adults despite the fact that we are the youngest democracy and the future of the country,” she says.
The month-long movement seems to bring hope among protesters and its supporters. Trade union leader Prof. Siddheshwar Shukla said, “The movement is gradually growing and it has a long future.” Appreciating the protesters, Prof Shukla said, “A completely new kind of crowd is joining the protest.”
The spirit of the movement seems to spark light in different places. A few new “Shaheen Baghs” have sprung up in different parts of the state as also elsewhere. More movements are waiting to erupt. “We will begin an organised movement in Punjab also, and other organisations will join us later,” said Parminder Singh from Deshbhakt Yaadgaar Kameti.
The protesters appeared to be iron-willed. Secretary of Aligarh Muslim University Huzaifa Amir Rashadi willfully declares, “We will not step back half an inch from the movement if the government does not step back an inch from its decision….This is an accumulated volcanic eruption from the common masses on the question of employment, education, health and price rise.”
Doctors of AIIMS have expressed their solidarity and joined the movement. Doctor and Ph.D scholar Imran Khan says, “Students cannot be treated like terrorists.”
Asserting the right to protest, Dr. Khan says mere study is not what makes a student. He also refers to the role of the government during such protests. “It is the task of the government to end the violence,” says Dr. Khan. The question of citizenship has less value than humanity. Says Nishant, a student from Delhi University, “Citizenship is not higher than humanity.”
A group of alumni students of the Jamia have come forward with a 3D model to illustrate the entire process of CAA and NRC. Miniatures of different colours with embedded meanings of their religion and race face their fate. The group members have some serious questions about the process of NRC and citizenship (amended) law.
Tashkeel Ahmad raises the question of reservation for Schedule Tribes and Schedule Castes. Genuine Indians from SC and ST segments might not be able to produce their proof of citizenship. Once citizenship is denied to them via the NRC, their plight would be miserable. “What will be the status of their citizenship and will there still be reservation for them in future,” asks Tashreef, he being skeptical about the nature of this law. Another question raised by Atif Nawaz goes thus: “Will their properties be returned to the original owner after they are given citizenship through CAA?”
The police crackdown on the campus has made the movement against the CAA-NRC more mass-based. Appreciating the progress of the movement, leader of the CPI and MP, Binoy Viswom, said, “There is something great in this movement. People are sincere and concerned. This is the struggle for India’s unity.”
WALL OF RESISTANCE
Not only do the students of the Jamia Millia Islamia speak against the anti-people NRC, against the CAA and against police brutality, the walls of Jamia too register their protest. Down the Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar Marg, one will find a “wall of resistance” — as they call it. The wall of MA Khan Pataudi Stadium has a more meaningful existence now. It begins with graffiti of Rohit Vemula, Najeeb, Malcom X and goes on to depict the horror of the Jamia and JNU incidents. The art has gone political in Jamia. “We believe in the Art of Resistance and the Art of Politics,” said Sibghatullah Saquib, a student of Jamia with coloured hands.