KATHMANDU: “If students aren’t safe within the four walls of their classrooms, inside the fortified boundaries of their campuses, they won’t be safe anywhere else. Students don’t have religion,” Vatsala Singh, a senior producer at The Quint wrote.
Numerous alumni expressed solidarity after students were attacked for peacefully protesting the exclusion of Muslims from a new citizenship law that grants citizenship to religious minorities in India. Scores of students were attacked at Jamia Millia University in India’s Capital as protests intensified, many were injured.
One of the major spirits of democracy is people freely exercising their right to assemble and protest peacefully. Delhi Police’s recent crackdown on the protesting-students, however, led many into believing that the same right was being dishonoured in the world’s largest democracy.
Vatsala said it’s hard for her to not feel shattered after having witnessed how incidents have transpired in a place where she spent a major chunk of her life. “Shame on you Delhi Police and the government under whose orders Jamia property was destroyed. You may not feel anything for the students in JNU, AMU, Jamia but remember, your children and siblings will have to pick universities when they grow up. Would you want them to be tear-gassed, lathi-charged, trapped inside toilets and libraries, gasping for breath?” wrote Singh on her Facebook page.
Karan Prashant Saxena, a senior content producer at Hindustan Times shared with THT Online how every alumni, irrespective of different organisations they belonged to, started collating and documenting factual evidence the moment things escalated in the campus. “This is journalism at its best”, he added. “People will be stunned at the quality of education that is provided here if they don’t see the University as is being portrayed by the central government. The people really need to open their eyes and see.”
For Prerna Lidhoo, Principal Correspondent of Fortune India, it would not be easy to revisit her campus for a long time now after seeing and hearing of the almost week-long ruckus. “We’ve had food in the canteen that was ransacked, sat in that library, used those washrooms. It’s like our home was targetted. We hold Jamia with very high regard in our hearts because that’s one place where you can actually witness the idea of India. It made me who I am. It gave me hope to make something of myself when I was next to nothing.”
“I support my university and students who fought and sacrificed so much so that I can pay back my debts to this place. This is what I have learnt here; to look beyond religion, caste and creed,” Lidhoo concluded.
Even in the midst of all the frustration that has surfaced, the alumni are providing accommodations to those in need. Lidhoo is willing to accommodate 5-10 people in her house after hearing Jamia students are being asked to vacate their hostels.
Talha Ethasham, a senior visual producer at Hindustan Times said Jamia is a place of diversity, not just in the makeup of its student body but also in relation to opinions, and subcultures that mingle, coexist and bring people together regardless of where they come from, what they believe in and what they do in their personal lives.
For minds stepping out of the shelter of schools, the sense of community within Jamia was a wonderful addition to any young person’s life as a quality to uphold and cherish. It was not Jamia per se that me or many around me, it was the people that made Jamia what it was, and is. All it took was to let go of preconceived notions that stemmed from the name and were quite unjustified”, Ethasham shared with us.
Yusra Hussain, senior correspondent at The Times of India, shared how the entire incident has agitated her and all others who have studied at Jamia where police brutality on unarmed non-violent protesters has surpassed all limits. “To think that I spent two years of my life at this campus at this hostel which is under siege today, has kept me, and others like me up all these nights. “I can only imagine what students have felt when the cops barged into the libraries and dark classrooms even as girls screamed out of fear and boys were beaten up. This is unacceptable at so many levels and the government is letting it happen.
Alumni across the nation took to streets in the wake of the police action while others took to social media to voice their anger and frustration.
Students from my alma mater Jamia Millia Islamia University hold protests against #CitizenshipAmendmentAct
— Marya Shakil (@maryashakil) December 14, 2019
Meanwhile, many renowned celebrities are being criticised on social media for not voicing their opinion for their alma matter against police brutality.
Netizens are upset over the silence of people in power in times of crisis when Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is creating an uproar across the country.