By OUR STAFF REPORTER
The NRC-CCA is against Muslims, without any doubt. It is a move by the government to cut the ground under the feat of citizens,” said Arundhati Roy, an eminent author and activist while addressing a press conference organised by concerned citizens and students to mark two years of attack on Jamia Millia Islamia and AMU, at the Press Club of India on December 15.
Roy added, “It started with demonetisation and then we saw NRC and CAA and lockdowns. They are creating detention camps so that the Muslims, Adivasi, and the marginalised should have in their imagination that this is the place for them as if they don’t have rights. They are trying to create a tier of new caste system parallel to the old caste system where some citizens will have their right but some will not have rights. What the students of Jamia and AMU did was to understand the fundamental threat which we are in.”
Emphasising on the fundamental threat, Roy said, “To understand the threat we are facing today it is important to know that our country is a social contract between hundreds of communities, languages, religions, ethnicities, castes and regions. If you break that contract then there is no India. All those from Jamia and AMU and others who stood up against CAA, NRC understood that this is the fundamental threat to this country. The manner in which they have withdrawn three farm laws, one day they will have to take back NRC and CAA as well.”
On the prevailing political atmosphere and the way forward, she said, “All the regional and secular parties fighting against each other are directly or indirectly helping the BJP. In Uttar Pradesh, all secular parties should come together. We all should raise the one democratic demand that in our country prime minister should hold office for only one term.”
The session, “Testimonies: Bearing Witness”, was chaired by senior journalist and author Farah Naqvi while two students, Akhtarista Ansari and Anugya Jha, who were present during the attack, recalled the atrocities of police force. Radhika Chitkara from the People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), who had submitted a fact-finding report entitled “Bloody Sunday”, and Fawaz Shaheen, an alumnus of AMU, narrated the horrors of AMU.
Farah Naqvi, while, lauding the struggle and resistance of the students, said we are here because we will not allow loss of memory to weaken the resolve for justice, for Jamia, for all students and for all the humiliation that has been poured on these institutions and their students. Naqvi, while referring to A++ grade secured by Jamia, said, despite all attempts made to disrepute and discredit the university and project its students as terrorists, the university stands best rated at number one.
During the press conference organised by the Jamia unit of the All India Students Association (AISA), the PUDR released a fact-finding report on the violence in the campus and called for inquiry into excessive use of force.
There was also a photo exhibition ‘Resilience through the Lens’ documenting the horror, police brutality, and excesses against anti-CAA protestors. These photos were joint efforts of students Mohammad Haris and Mohammad Meherban, who were witness to the atrocities against students in the campus.
Fawaz Shaheen, while recalling police atrocities, said, “I never saw complete silence in AMU as we saw that day. Of course there was a clear sign of destructions and the whole campus was taken away by blue uniformed RAF personnel. When we reached there around 3 pm in the night, we saw they were trying to erase the evidence from the campus. They picked up motorcycles and later on notices were sent to students based on picked-up motorcycles and charge-sheeted them.”
He added, “At the trauma centre the doctors were not looking at our eyes. We came to know from the guard that around 60 students had come there and were sent after first aid. We went to hospital and we also saw a room burnt in Morrison Court. The abuses and the racial slurs at students made us believe that they were not there to control mob and maintain law and order but for a clear purpose to punish the students for protesting against CAA-NRC. The protest in Jamia had instilled a hope in all of us and they had come to break that hope of the students. The same pattern of attacks on students we saw in AMU as well as Jamia. But after a couple of weeks the manner in which students came back and displayed resilience was the real ray of hope for struggle against CAA, NRC movement.”
Radhika Chitkara of PUDR said, “Students despite having been severely injured were denied medical and legal aid until hours of the next morning. In the aftermath of Jamia violence there were four FIRs registered against Jamia students and residents of the University for the incidents of 13-15 December.”
She added, “No FIR has been registered against the police and the paramilitary forces even after two years despite the fact that Jamia administration lodged complaints, which were later dismissed by the magistrate court. The petitions by the civil society, students, faculties of Jamia before the Delhi High Court against police and paramilitary force are still pending. In June last year the NHRC put the onus of the violence on Jamia students, exculpating the police.”
Akhtarista Ansari, a student of Jamia, who had become the face of the protest, while recalling the incident, said, the struggle against CAA, NRC has not stopped and will continue as long as it is not withdrawn and those arrested are not released.