Why We Need To Reclaim Our Universities

Posted by Sabika Abbas in Campus Watch, Politics
February 23, 2017

Gundagardi se ‘azaadi’ (freedom from hooliganism), ‘ABVP se ‘azaadi’ (freedom from ABVP), ‘Maardhaad se ‘azaadi’ (freedom from violence), ‘FIR darj karo’ (file an FIR), ‘We want justice’, ‘Sanghwad se ‘azaadi’ (freedom from saffronisation), ‘Ye university hamari hai, gundo ki jageer nahi’ (this is our university, not the property of hooligans), ‘Sanghwad police se azaadi’ (freedom from a saffronised police).

These are the slogans that the peaceful bunch of people who had been terrorised in Ramjas college during a seminar, and those who showed up in solidarity, were using during their sloganeering.

The ABVP goons had gathered inside the college and were shouting ‘Bharat Mata ki jai‘ unnecessarily (probably because that is the only slogan they have at hand and it is the easiest to hide your gundagardi under the garb of patriotism and nationalism).

They started throwing bricks and stones at us, pulling people from the gathered crowd, dragging them onto the road and beating them up right in front of the police.

Leaving the group was even more dangerous because they had surrounded us from all sides and every time an individual tried leaving the gathering, there were beaten up – even if they hadn’t been a part of the gathering.

We were pushed away from the college towards the Arts Faculty (the entrance opposite to SRCC) where another round of stone pelting took place (not stone, bricks). 15 or so got injured, many of them were bleeding heavily and were taken to the hospital. One one hand, ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ was constantly being chanted, on the other, rape threats were being thrown at women. When a girl started running away, an ABVP goon who was just shouting ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’ said ‘bhaag randi bhaag (run, you whore)‘.

Along with many others, I was also hit by those bricks. We continued walking till Maurice Nagar police station. On one side of the road was ABVP and on the other were us. The police tied two ropes around us while the ABVP stood on the roof of police buses to shout and throw stones and even glass bottles. By this time they had become more creative. They started throwing eggs at us and labelling us as ‘deshdrohis (anti-nationals)‘. They also carried a tricolour in their hands (the stick of which was used to actually hit many protesters). The police did absolutely nothing when ABVP goons were giving us death and rape threats. (All for Bharat and Mata).

Image source: Facebook

By then we started demanding action from the police. We demanded an FIR against the goons but the police, who had witnessed all the violence said, “We will take complaints from both sides and see if it is a cognizant offence or not.”

Very peacefully, we told the SHO to just show us the FIR number after which we will leave immediately. We were still talking to the SHO when the police started lathi charging on the students and teachers who were all sitting in a circle. There was a stampede. All of us were beaten up, dragged (when I say beaten up, one student/professor was beaten up by at least 3 policemen). Women students were groped and beaten up by male policemen. They were beating us saying words like ‘teri himmat kaise hui‘, ‘teri itni himmat‘(How dare you).

Our friends have marks of lathi on their backs, their clothes were torn, shoes lost, our wrists have marks of being dragged, there are blood clots and pain. We were then filled in buses and were given ‘Delhi darshan’ for two hours.

We had no clue where we were being taken. By the way, it was an illegal detention because it was already after sunset and police cannot keep women in detention after that time. We were then dropped at Hauz Khas all the way from Maurice Nagar. We had no money to come back. Our phones were switched off. But above all, we were all scared of returning to the campus as ABVP was on a run doing midnight raids on PGs and randomly hitting people. We were fucking scared to return to spaces which were our own because we could have been raped, beaten up.

ABVP has been given the right to attack and display unrestricted hooliganism under the garb of ‘Bharat mata’ and the national flag. They can throw stones and will still remain deshbhakts. They can hurl abuses and will still remain deshbhakts, they will show force and will still remain deshbhakts but the media will not shy away from labelling us as ‘deshdrohis‘, us who are working according to the constitution, remaining non-violent, us who are asking for safety, us who are asking for academic places to be free of masculine and hooligan politics.

It is not about Umar Khalid. It is about the fact that our queer friends were beaten up, common students attending an academic seminar were beaten up, professors and teachers were beaten up in a seminar which was about identity politics. If just the word ‘azaadi’ triggers your violent erection then stop celebrating 15th August as yaum-e-azadi. We will resist this hooliganism and keep asking for universities to be democratic spaces and will keep questioning the politics of gundagardi and violent masculinity.

Ye university hamari hai, gundo ki jageer nahi (This is our university, not the property of hooligans).

Nationalism now actually means gundagardi with the flag in your hand. It means gundagardi with ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ on your lips.

They just cannot indulge in discourse and conversation. Ever.

They can do nothing but to target the minorities and marginalised under the garb of deshbhakti and hollow nationalism.

So many of us are scared, couldn’t sleep last night but we will reclaim our university, soon.

Iqbal ka gaana gane walon, azaadi ka matlab, aman aur chayn ka mani toh samajh lo (Those who scream about nationalism, first understand the meaning of freedom, peace and harmony).

I condemn ABVP as well as the sold out police.

Karengey politics, karengey pyaar,
ABVP khabardar.
(We will take part in politics and love
ABVP beware)

Ye university hai tayyar
Abvp khabardar.
This university is ready
ABVP beware)

P.S. This not about ABVP vs AISA. Hundreds of us were there who are not affiliated with political parties. We are students who came to show solidarity against hooliganism.