This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Towfeeq Wani. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

‘Prophet Never Ate Meat’: RSS Patron Tells Jamia Students At Iftar Party

More from Towfeeq Wani

On June 5, 2017, students of Jamia Millia Islamia protested against an iftar party hosted by the Muslim Rashtriya Manch on the campus. Most of the newspapers carried the news. However, one needs to dig deeper and unearth the worrying trend of similar events.

On the 11th day of the holy month of Ramadan, June 7, 2017, as one entered ‘Gate 07’ of Jamia Millia Islamia, the campus was unusually abuzz with activity despite the fact that summer vacations had started more than a week ago. Students were sitting and chatting in small groups, occupying almost all the benches around the central canteen and central library. The number of security men, in and around the campus was more than usual. However, more than anything, there was an air of urgency and a sense of unease.

For the past two days, JMI is once again all over the news. Indresh Kumar, a certain patron of the RSS-affiliated Muslim Rashtriya Manch, accused various times of spreading hate, regressive ideas, and even violence, was invited to attend an iftar party on June 5 on the Jamia Milia campus. During the party, he asked Muslims to “stop eating meat because it is a disease,” and said that “the Prophet never ate meat.” Students are least bothered by ‘what’ he said. The question which led to the students of Jamia Millia to organise a protest was why did the university administration allow such a politically motivated event to be organised by forces that are often deemed ‘communal’ inside the varsity?

In its defence, the university administration said that the Bhopal Ground, where the iftar party was organised, was rented out to MRM and the institution had no involvement in its affairs. However, the venue mentioned in the invitation poster circulated by the MRM was Castro Café, which one has never heard of being ‘rented out’. From the looks of it, in a bid to distance itself from the event, the administration shifted the venue to Bhopal Ground, which is often ‘rented out’. Either that or the venue was shifted to provide security to the event and its organisers in the wake of the protest called by the students of Jamia.

In fact, on June 5, 2017, the iftar party inside the Bhopal Ground was guarded by hundreds of police officers, both armed as well as unarmed. Not more than 50 meters away, the protesting students, barely a 100 in number, were first barricaded from all sides outside the main gate of the campus, and then even allegedly lathi-charged. Six students were reportedly detained in the New Friends Colony Police Station and were let go two hours later only after other protesters refused to budge. The protesting students offered their evening prayers on the road itself.

Talat Ahmad, the Vice-Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia, decided to skip the event even though his name had been mentioned as a chief guest alongside the MRM patron Indresh Kumar in the invitation poster.

A copy of the invitation to the iftar party.
A copy of the invitation to the iftar party.

Another worrying incident had taken place in the university in February this year. A brainstorming session was organised at Jamia by the RSS-supported Forum for Awareness of National Security (Fans) which also counts Indresh Kumar as its chief patron. At that time, Shazia Ilmi, politician and JMI alumnus, alleged that she was not allowed to speak at the event because the university put pressure on the organisers to drop her name from a panel of speakers for a seminar on triple talaq. The event had also garnered a lot of media attention because barely a week before the event the organisers of a certain seminar in Ramjas College had been attacked by members of the ABVP and some DU students. The two events had thus sparked a series of debates on the questions of free speech and academic freedom. This further led to institutions attempting to unduly censor students and impose restrictions on organising events to avoid controversy.

As a student of the university, I strongly feel that the purpose of events like the one that took place in JMI on June 5 is to get legitimacy for RSS among the Indian Muslims. To do so, a Muslim minority institution in the National Capital Region, which also happens to be a reputed central university, must seem like the perfect place to start from. At the same time, many students have time and again accused RSS and the BJP-led government at the Centre of trying to ‘saffronise’ the education in general, and the universities and academic spaces in particular.

However, the most important question remains unanswered. Why did the Jamia administration allow such an event to be organised on the campus despite knowing that the students would protest against it?

Either it believes that a university is a free space where any event can be organised, and everyone should be allowed to speak, which is hypocritical if Shazia Ilmi’s allegations are true. Or it is of the opinion that this event was a ‘normal’ iftar party and that the issue was blown out of proportion by the students and the media, which would be naïve on its part but is nevertheless a possibility. Or the organisers of the event had ‘a way with the administration’ and the latter could do nothing but submit. I really cannot decide which among the three would be the worse of the all.

Image source: Burhaan Kinu/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
You must be to comment.

More from Towfeeq Wani

Similar Posts

By Submitted anonymously

By Amya Roy

By Shipra Gupta

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below