By Manira Chaudhary:
Where Kanhaiya’s release brought spring to JNU, Umar and Anirban’s bail brought in an early Holi on the campus where hundreds gathered and took out a ‘Victory March’ at night from Ganga Dhaba to the Ad Block (re-christened ‘Freedom Square’ after the recent events), where Anirban and Umar addressed the jubilant crowd.
The slogan for the day which was accompanied by the rhythmic beating of the dafli was “RSS ko bhejo mail, Umar-Ban ko mil gaya bail (send RSS a mail, that Umar and Anirban have got bail)”. The crowd of students sang and danced with Holi colours smeared across their faces, the most prominent one being red.
As the students and teachers cheered on, Umar and Anirban shared anecdotes of their experience in jail and spoke of the circumstances which had developed in the past one a half months and what they represent. “Some things were absurd, there was a madness. But there was a method to this madness too,” said Anirban as he spoke of the media’s big role in orchestrating the entire turn of events.
Interestingly, owing to the soured equation with the media and to show a collective stand and solidarity, the throng of media channels with their cameras propped up in the centre of the Ad Block (or Freedom Square!) were asked to move to the back on the footpath lining the boundary to make space for more students to sit.
Both Umar and Anirban spoke about how Umar, especially, was targeted by the media and right-wing parties and posed a question to those who had gathered – what would have happened if Umar was an abiding Muslim, from Azamgarh and schooled in a madrassa? Umar also said that when he was being interrogated, he felt that the entire Muslim community was being judged by putting him in the dock. Sarah, Umar’s 12-year-old sister was also present at the gathering and addressed the crowds.
Watch the videos of the speeches, where “the struggle will continue” was the echoing cry:
Take campus conversations to the next level. Become a YKA Campus Correspondent today! Sign up here.
You can also subscribe to the Campus Watch Newsletter, here.