Jamia Nagar is a sensitive area for being a Muslim-dominated zone. It is a hub of students, aspirants of the National Eligibility cum Entrance (NEET), Civil Services, and other competitive exams. It attracts students from across North India and to a lesser extent from some other regions. The area is economical, student-friendly, and affordable with low-budget accommodation, low-cost coaching centers, private libraries, and reading rooms.
The locality is frequented by investigative agencies for their usual pick-up of suspects, criminals, or wrongdoers. The way the investigative agencies carry out raids scares the students out of their wits. An alley is manned by investigative officers in a civil dress with their vehicles parked at multiple entries and exit points of the streets. The time of the raids is often scary; raids are often conducted in the middle of the night or the wee hours or afternoons when people are asleep or confined to their homes due to heat or humidity. Sometimes, many lanes are cordoned off with officers (both male and female) standing in every corner of the street with their pistols.
This brief write-up is not meant to go into the credibility of detentions or innocence of the suspects or the accused. This is about how it affects the psyche of a student who is focused on their goal of cracking some tough competitive exams. Being a student, I can feel the pain a student goes through when they happen to be a witness to a terrifying search operation.
One such scary operation was held on 13th July 2021 when a huge group of policemen raided a few premises inside Batla House nearby of the Shahab Masjid. The raid, still a mystery, was carried out at around 1 pm prompting the residents to gather in the streets to witness and avert, if possible, the police to pick up the targeted accused.
These kinds of operations, frequent in nature, panic the locals and adversely affect the student community which gets disquieted for possibly being the next target. The student community inhabits the area leaving behind their loved ones.
An operation or a prospect of being detained or enquired by the Police or an investigative agency frightens not only the students but also their families back home. These terrifying police operations instigate the worried parents to urge their wards not to stay in a Muslim-dominated locality or stay back at their hometowns and chase their dreams from there only.
One is aware that Jamia Nagar is an attractive location for the migrant students for being in close vicinity to Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) University and for being close to several Delhi University colleges such as Acharya Narendra Dev College (ANDC), Deshbandhu College (my alma mater), Pannalal Girdharlal Dayanand Anglo-Vedic College (PGDAV). Besides, the neighbourhood is dirt cheap. These are the reasons which draw students to the area and encourage them to make it their academic home.
Another worrying aspect of the Police raids is their secrecy or lack of credible information. The Police or the investigative agencies are often unwilling to share the information with the residents for which an accused is being picked up. Sometimes, even a local Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) is not kept in the loop. Many a time, Police fail to produce an arrest warrant further sending shivers down the spine of the inhabitants especially the migrant students throwing their studies and preparation into disarray.
My humble suggestion is that the Police and an investigative squad should conduct raids or search operations during the day taking the locals or the local politicians or the local activists or the Masjid Imams or the coaching centres (in case of a student) into confidence. The sleuths should be armed with a properly drafted arrest warrant. A random scary search frightens many of those who are not the targets and whom the sleuths would not want to unsettle.