December 15, 2019, 134 km away from the heart of the nation something terrible was going on. Students, glued to their screens in Aligarh, could place themselves in the shoes of Jamia students. Some might have felt it more than others, but we all felt their fear, panic, chaos – a sense of hopelessness and even, in some cases, death.
Police crackdown on the students of Jamia for protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was underway and students at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and all across India were feeling their pain. ‘Brutality’ is not a casual word. It cannot be used for defining consequences or something that happened by mistake. Brutality is always intentional.
Protests in solidarity with students of Jamia began on the AMU campus. Shortly afterward, things took a different turn and it got violent as the police and Rapid Action Force (RAF) entered the campus and thrashed and brutalised the students.
A variety of ‘tools’ were employed, including stun grenades, which are said to be used only in warlike situations, and for militarized policing. The sounds of loud explosions, firearms, and screams rocked the campus and students here got a little glimpse at the lives of some people we all seem to have forgotten about.
It fills our minds with despair and fear when we remember the events of that night. Hundreds were injured and some even suffered injuries so grave that their lives have been changed forever. PAC, RAF, and police forces lathi-charged, showered tear gas shells, stun grenades, and rubber baton rounds on the students and broke vehicles without discrimination.
People will ask the classic question: “Who started it?” But, why something like this has been happening all across the country, is the question we all should ask. Why the students, who are very much the essence of any nation, are forsaking their precious time of learning and taking to the streets? Maybe the people in power do know the answer to this, or they don’t, but in reality, attacking or better yet ‘brutalising’ a symptom of something never really fixes the ailment.
If the government of India doesn’t know what ails the hearts of the people of this nation, then we must tell them that it is mistrust. India is perhaps the most diverse country in the world, and certainly is the largest democracy. There are almost 1,369 rationalised lingual identities, 9 major religions practised, and cultures and traditions change after around every 50-100 km.
The constitution of India, and our unique history, is what that binds all of us together. A country is its people, it did not come with a set of instructions or requirements, but is a collective of all the lives in it. Their individual histories, stories, expectations, and aspirations. The idea of an independent India was built upon the promise to all these very ‘individual people’ that their unique identities, religions, history, and customs will be protected and preserved.
An Indian identity would rise with all its vibrant colours and contrast that shall radiate the diversity of this nation till the end of time. Our Constitution provided the tools to enforce this idea and this intricate system is not something to be fiddled with. This promise that is set in stone should not be taken lightly.
How can some people decide what it means to be Indian? How can you enforce a version of an Indian identity that is to your liking? If our government cannot understand the implications of its actions, then the damage would become irreversible, and the trust would be decimated beyond repair.