Over the last few weeks, young people from across India’s universities have come out to protest the Citizenship Amendment Act, which could impact India’s Muslim population adversely. What started from the North East of India, spread to Jamia, AMU and several other Universities, was met with brute force from the administration, as police smashed universities, and brutally attacked the protesting students, and silently watched the show when JNU students were horrifyingly attacked, allegedly by ABVP activists.
Even though there have been claims of the students resorting to violence during the initial protests, no evidence has come up that shows the students initiating violence against the police. There have also been reports of students’ legs being smashed using metal rods, and some people have alleged that they were shot at, by the Delhi Police.
This brutal use of power indicates and strengthens the belief that if anything, this Government is probably very afraid of its students and young people.
At a time when the country is burning and hundreds are being detained, what brings hope, is how people from across the board are uniting with the protesting youth, to demand our constitutional right to freedom of expression, and our right to protest.
When the Prime Minister of India made the comment that protesters can be identified from their clothes, the protestors went shirtless, Sikh people joined the protests, non-Muslims actively came out to identify themselves, and talk about why they have been protesting. Videos of young women, bystanders jumping in to protect students being beaten up have started going viral – but yet again, the Government has been playing deaf to the cry for a just, equal, constitutional approach to law-making in India.
Many have feared that this is just the beginning of how this Government is approaching the systematic exclusion of minorities, especially Muslims in India. But what brings hope, is the undying pressure that the everyday citizen of India is putting on the Government, to roll back what could end up being the most discriminatory law in the history of united India.
Over the last decade, India has been gripped by communal hatred, the likes of which we’ve never seen before. This hatred has been central to the news, which has more often than not, fuelled communal hatred, and in many cases – even fake news, and has overtaken issues that we should actually be concerned about – such as India’s failing economy, growing concerns over the safety of women and the unemployment crisis.
With no sign of a concrete solution, a plan of action, or any hint of intent to solve these crises, it has become increasingly clear that if anything, the Government needs to care a lot more about issues that will disable our country’s development, than those that fuel hatred.
If only those in power would have read Aesop’s famous quote – “United we stand, divided we fall.”