‘What Happened In Jamia Still Worries Me’

On December 17th around 10 pm, I landed in Delhi from my official trip. I was relaxed and excited because this was my last business trip for 2019. Still, at the same time, I have been constantly worried and tensed because of what had happened on the evening of December 15th in Jamia Millia Islamia. This is my Alma mater, and for the last ten years, I have been living in the Jamia neighborhood.

It was difficult for me to sleep that night in Bhubaneswar because my family members were in Delhi.  Whatever news I was getting from my family, friends and social media was disturbing: the crackdown on the student protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act, the police brutality towards the students—there was no distinction in the way they treated the girls or the boys.

The police forced some students to walk through campus with their arms raised. Image source: Reuters

They were treated like criminals; the Delhi police brutally beat even students who never participated in any agitation, and were calmly reading the library. The police did not stop here; students were taken to the police stations and denied medical assistance for hours until social activist intervened.

Thanks to the spontaneous mobilization of the concerned citizens, they went to the Delhi police headquarter to protest against the brutal actions of the Delhi police and demanded the release of all the detained students.

I faced difficulties in getting a cab from the airport to my place near Jamia Millia Islamia. When I entered the Ola taxi stand at Terminal 3, a cab driver came to me and inquired about where I was going. He gently refused to take me. He said, “sir, protests have been happening in those areas, it will be difficult for me to go, people there are very angry,” and so on.

I tried to engage with him. Since I have been closely working with social sectors, I said, “brother, you must understand, who is making a fool of us.” In his case, I tried to explain how the new app-based business owners have exploited him. There is no union to fight for the justice of his labor. Subsequently, he realized that and passed a smile at me.

Finally, I got my cab, the driver Raman Lal (name changed) dropped me at my place. He had a lot of misconceptions about Muslims. We got talking during the ride. He told me his wife and four kids stay back in Western UP, and he stays somewhere on the outskirts of the National Capital Region (NCR). He, too, was very irritated with the app-based businesses and the fact that there’s no way to get justice for his labor.

I realised that at a time when everyone has been so busy praising the ‘ease of doing business’ for big owners, no one is listening to those on the margins.

Note: this post was first published here.

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