Why Saving DU Is Also About Saving India

Posted by Ismat Tagore in Campus Watch, Politics, Staff Picks
March 6, 2017

I am a student of Delhi University. I am not a member of any union. I have never stood up for any political post. Yet, I am forced to write this article using a fake name because I am afraid that I will be thrashed, threatened or even abducted if I disclose my real identity.

I have been studying in DU for the last five years, but I have never seen the kind of violence which occurred last week. I saw women being dragged by their hair on the road. I saw eight to ten policemen beating a single student who was too scared to ask for help. I also saw some students chanting ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai‘ and assaulting random people passing by on the streets.

I have never witnessed a riot or a terror attack in my life, but the Ramjas attack is the closest thing I ever wish to experience. Later on, I got to know that all my friends had gone through similar things. Two of my female friends were chased by 20 Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) members with bats and hockey sticks all the way to their home. When they went to the Maurice Nagar police station to register an FIR, they were lathicharged. Later on, they were detained.

However, it wasn’t the fear or police inaction which broke my heart. What terrorised me was how our nation distorted the whole event.

The molesters, stone pelters and the rioters were hailed as nationalists. The students who were beaten, molested and detained, were accused of being anti-nationals by default. What was their crime? It changed with every change of channel. Sometimes they chanted ‘anti-India’ slogans of azaadi (freedom). Sometimes, they were criminals as they were All India Students’ Association (AISA) activists from Jawaharlal Nehru University. Sometimes, Umar Khalid was used as a justification.

We, the students, the sufferers and the citizens of India were erased with labels and lies. We won’t take it anymore.

This riot which occurred last week was not about Umar Khalid. He never even set foot on the campus. His event was cancelled long before the violence started.

This riot was not a petty ‘clash’ between ABVP and AISA, since random students on the street, the professors and media persons were also brutally assaulted. Moreover, most of the violence was done by one party.

Lastly, we will not allow this riot to be justified under the garb of nationalism and a fake love for the country.

Stone pelting a seminar doesn’t make you a nationalist. Molesting girls on streets cannot be nationalism. Strangling your own professors doesn’t make you a desh bhakt (devotee of a country). It only makes you a psychopath.

The students of DU or any other university don’t need any certificate from a group of organisations, whose members have grave allegations of having spied for the ISI, of being involved in child trafficking and sex rackets and have been convicted for a bomb attack.

You, your parishad (organisation) and your parivar (family) accuse us of chanting azaadi. You call azaadi anti-Indian. How can freedom, one of our core values enshrined in our preamble, be against our country?

No one wanted azaadi from India. Every Indian citizen wanted azaadi in India.

Except for you. You ban plays, censor movies, beat up artists and stone pelt our constitution. Azaadi might be against ABVP, RSS and BJP, since you only want gulami (slavery). Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is not India and it’s time you remember it.

Your gang asks us to shut up and study. How can one study amidst stone pelting, rape threats, molestation and violence? Your parishad asks us to stop protesting and go back home. However, how can we not protest when you are choking our constitution, our rights and our democracy?

This protest is against black being called white, and white being called black. This protest is against the truth being peddled as lies and lies being peddled as true. This protest is against calling citizens who stand with the Constitution as ‘anti-India’ and people who pelt stones at it, as nationalists.

Some people have started a new fashion trend where random ministers are distributing certificates of patriotism to Indian citizens according to the party’s convenience. If you lick their toes, then you are a nationalist. If you don’t, you have betrayed the nation.

We want to tell them that there is only one Indian nationalism. The one defined in our preamble. If you stand with it, then you are a nationalist. If you don’t, then you can find a country with a Constitution, which suits your violence and your jingoism.

Our tricolour was seen in marches organised by both the ABVP and Save DU Campaign. The difference between them was that the former used it as an empty shield to hide their crimes, while the latter stood by it and vowed to protect what it actually symbolised.


Image source: Raj K Raj/ Hindustan Times via Getty Images