I am writing this today on 28th of June, using my left hand, as my right hand was injured in a brutal lathicharge by the armed forces. Kashmir University saw one of the most inhuman and unforgivable faces of occupation on 25th of June, 2015. With the unanimous decision of students, this day will be commemorated every year as a Black Day in Kashmir University.
Why did the students decide to call it a Black Day? What happened on 25th, and who will decide the authenticity of the day’s narrative?
Is it because of the statement of Kashmir University’s administration, polished by the recently appointed PRO, that we are terming it as a ‘Black Day‘? Or is it because of what thousands of students who while performing their religious duty of fasting were terrified by the gun shot in the proctorial wing (KU’s law and order dept.) and then beaten, dragged and thrashed by the baton charge of external police forces had to go through? I will let you verify the facts and decide upon the authenticity of the events that led to what can only be called the most brutal and violent day in Kashmir University.
On 25th, the third day of the protest, students were peacefully demanding the release of Muzamil Dar, a fellow student, and assembled in front of the Vice Chancellor’s chamber. The proctor came out and said that the VC had just spoken to the DGP and he would update the Vice Chancellor in two hours. The students decided to wait and started discussing the relentless struggles of Tunisian, Egyptian, Palestinian and Chechnian people and raised anti-administration and pro-freedom slogans. During the Zuhr Salah (noon prayer), in the lawn in front of the VC’s chamber, students waited to hear from the Vice Chancellor and requested the intervention of the Chief Minister in facilitating the release of Muzamil. Unfortunately, the VC had no intentions to come out from the comfort of his cozy AC room while thousands of students were sitting in the scorching heat, waiting for his response. The students demanded that when the VC has no issues in participating in so called “cultural programs” which have an ulterior agenda i.e. “Sadbhavna” charity program, then why was he hesitant to come out for five minutes to update us about the case involving one of the students?
Meanwhile, a female student got into an argument with one of the proctorial police security guard who in no time responded with firing in the air to silence the loaded voice of that girl, and out of nowhere (on the order of the VC, which he accepted in a press statement), external police came and charged at us with batons. They were ruthlessly beating up students, dragging girls by their hair and thrashing anyone who came within the reach of their batons, without differentiating between male and female students.
Suddenly, what we saw was an exemplary moment of courage when two girls stood and started beating the men in uniform back with kicks and slaps. In no time, every student turned back and hurled stones on the Vice Chancellor’s chamber, which I think was equally justified and a natural reaction considering the situation. I am amazed to see some intellectually bankrupt opportunists coming up with statements/articles which overtly or covertly are in defense of KU administration and attempt to poison the idea of political liberation of students, in a Foucauldian premise, from the shackles of power which functions through educational institutions.
Intellectual adventurism polished with linguistic jingoism can never deconstruct some grand narratives whether that is the belief in God or voices brimming with the idea of justice. Haven’t you heard that ideas are bulletproof and you cannot fire bullets on an ideology—Hum Kya Chahte!—Azadi. Nonetheless, it was not boys who crushed the glasses but those girls who were beaten and dragged by police who started dismantling everything which came in front of them. They started calling out to the Vice Chancellor and Proctor Nasir Iqbal about their moral standing for using police force to thrash students, especially girls. One of the girls shouted “Ghari chae na beni ti korie” (don’t you have daughters and sisters at your home?) “tuhie kyeapaeth loyewu assie tuhie aawu na insaaf” (how inhumanely you thrashed us, didn’t your heart stop you?) and the girl fainted on the spot. While she still resisted not breaking her fast, our Vice Chancellor ran away through the back door, probably because he was protecting his fast as he might have had to look at the na-maharam beating and dragging female students by the hair.
That day, we saw courage, steadfastness and political maturity in the eyes of Kashmir’s future generation against state oppression and violence. I can only smile at our University’s administration for their reductionist interpretation, but then this uncanny resemblance with the colonial state structure was also visible on 26th of June when girls were thrashed and forced to evacuate the hostels.
Let us name them, boycott them and stand firm against them like a wall – the proctor whose security guard opened fire, the deputy proctor, his assistant, Heads of three departments, the DSW, our new PRO who sent a concocted and fabricated report and the valley’s widely read newspaper, which by default is supporting the university administration because it really cannot afford to lose the gatbandhan with the University due to the influx of money coming from advertisements.
Suppression and coercion can never permeate the hard-edged secularist agenda in Kashmir and will only strengthen, and add the fuel of commitment to the idea of Azadi in the consciousness of our upcoming generation. I am happy to see the statements of the Bar Association, the Doctors’ Association, and the pro-freedom faction for criticizing the brute manifestation of state terrorism in the campus. But I am, not surprisingly, amazed to see the ideologues, architects, intellectuals and teachers of Kashmir University absent from the discourse. I would like to ask you, the torchbearers of Kashmir University, to have a moment without your conscience and ask yourselves: Who are you? Are you the worshippers of money? Or are you pacified subjects? Bathroom intellectuals? Who are you? Do you claim to shape the future of this nation? Do you really think so? I think you lost the legitimacy the day Rafiq Shah was arrested, the day more than hundred civilians were killed in 2008 and 2010 and you kept mum, the day Asiya and Neelofar were raped and killed in cold blood, the day Afzal Guru was hanged for satisfying the collective conscience of Indian nationalism, the day police used forces on the daughters of this nation and, last but not the least, you lost the legitimacy when time and again teachers and teachers-turned-administrators were in news for exploiting female students/scholars and you satiated your already dead conscience by chanting “Keep Silent”.
I pity the conscience of the Vice Chancellor, professors and administrators for issuing statements which are actually blatant lies and fabricated concoctions. Using power, psychological tactics and brute manifestation of state terrorism could never extinguish the light of resistance from the hearts of conscious people because they willingly and consciously believe in the idea of justice. We request you not to teach us intellectualism, morality, ethics and justice which altogether are absent from the quintessence of your existence. Call yourselves the slaves of your Nafs.
The author studies in Kashmir University and prefers anonymity because of threat to his career.