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

“What Happened At JNU Is Terrifying And A Reflection Of A Govt That We Cannot Trust”

A mob of 50-odd, masked people entered the JNU campus and attacked students and teachers on 5th Jan 2020.

No one saw this coming. The violence against JNU students and faculty members that continued for hours due to police inaction shook us and broke us. Students and teachers shouldn’t have to fear for their lives in their hostel rooms and universities. How is this the new norm? We’ve run out of words to condemn violence in newer ways now.

There are stories of brutality that will emerge in the coming days. Before you share them on online platforms, please try to add trigger warnings where you can, and try to verify every news source. This goes for the ongoing CAA and NRC protests too. It’s not about sharing it everywhere “first” right now. It’s about sharing it with as much emotional balance as we can muster. For public platforms, it’s also about “how to support the cause” or “how to spread relevant information calmly” or “how to peacefully protest” instead of “how to deal with trolls who only wish to degrade and insult”.

Invest. Energy. Wisely.

Try to understand this is a long battle. For those of us who were asleep in our privileges for long (this co-admin of @iwillgoout2017 included), let these past months serve as a final wake up call. For those who taught us patiently, we are forever grateful. Now that we’ve seen the ugliness inside ALL of us, know that this fight will stretch for years.

Not just the fights with our conscience, guilt and constant lack of knowledge (keep learning), but the battle against everyday fascism around us, that we need to wage on a deeper, calmer and more holistic level; that requires us to rely on information and if we can, create channels of information that will serve to solve, not isolate or divide.

Mumbai saw a protest against the JNU violence at Gateway of India at midnight.

I know it seems that any time we think it’s all too much, we receive yet another blow. JNU, we stand with you. Jamia, AMU, all the anti-fascist, beautiful, educated youth of this finally-infuriated-as-one country – we stand with you.

Our Muslim family. We stand with you. Uttar Pradesh, we stand with you. Kashmir and our North Eastern family, who are rightfully disappointed in the rest of us for not listening to them. We stand with you. I don’t mean to forget anyone. Forgive me.

Anyone who’s been affected by the fascism of this government, you reality-shattered, security-threatened, sad and helpless, impassioned and boiling with strength, determined and revolutionary, clear-eyed and truth-tongued, suddenly younger and stronger, pained but witty individual – we stand with you. Every community, gender, sexual orientation, religion and caste that is a minority and is marginalised, you are at the forefront of every battle. You have always taught us how to fight. We stand behind you.

We’ve never had to work so hard towards hope. Sometimes, some of us fail at it too. And that’s okay. Please rest to protest. But there’s always someone to pick up the flak. Someone who tells us to rest while they wrap us in a blanket and go off to protest in their own way, with a wink and a smile. There’s no dearth of protestors. There’s no death of love and truth. There’s so much of it that it’s been spilling out on the streets, demanding Aazadi with tea, biscuits and funny posters every day. And I’m not just talking about the ones on the street.

Every person who’s taken it upon themselves, to be as involved as they are able, in supporting the movement and voicing their opinions, you are gems. Thank you. Every person who’s trying to educate people in their immediate surroundings. Thank you. The first responders, the activists, the generous citizens, the lawyers, the medical staff, the journalists, the fact-finding mission accomplishers, the caretakers, the influencers, the calm explainers of law, the writers, the artists, the content creators, the wholesome meme-developers who know we need to laugh, the degree-rejectors, the makers of delicate kolam. Thank you.

What happened at JNU on Jan 5, 2020, is terrifying and a reflection of a government that we cannot trust. We were and are heartbroken. I thought to myself, we can’t catch a break as a country. It’s overwhelming. Whenever we’re hit hard, we rage, we numb down, we reach out, we demand justice, we unite in pain. But the most breathtaking part of it all is, we MOBILISE.

Mumbai saw a protest against the JNU violence at Gateway of India at midnight. Jadavpur University at Kolkata, Pune’s Film and Television Institution of India, Aligarh Muslim University, that has recently suffered violence at the hands of police, and students in Hyderabad – students everywhere organised protests within a few hours on the same night. The attack on dissent at JNU took place around 7 pm.

In a few hours, we at ‘I Will Go Out’ and many other feminist pages on Instagram, received messages with protest posters, already made and ready to roll out with clear information on date, location and time of protest on Jan 6, across India as well as Toronto, New York and Oxford. No doubt there’s a lot more to come.

AMU student protest against JNU violence
AMU student protest against JNU violence.

What was tearfully significant was the protest at JNU. The site of violence where terror still hung in the air like a hammer. Delhi citizens came out in support after several appeals of mobilisation were shared on social media. There was no hesitation. They felt compelled to go. They needed to register their voice against the attack. They needed to replace the fear and hate with some love and hope. They needed to protest. The need to stand up against injustice is becoming effortless.

We’ve found comfort in strangers and synced in our reflexes. We are instantly turning towards peace and solutions. We’ve discovered that we’re all on the same page, and it’s never been so warm and cosy. Perfect time for winter. Whenever we can’t see hope, let’s try to remember these cold months haven’t just brought out the hate some have for others, they have brought out this enormous and unrelenting love we have for each other too.

We now know that they weren’t expecting this. They didn’t know we won’t give up. So remember, we are hope.

Unlike them, we are unmasked. Hum dekhenge.
Image: Protest at AMU last night against #JNUviolence

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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.

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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.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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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.

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