By Ria De & Achuth Ajit
As our protest against the EFLU administration, following Mudasir Kamran’s death, moves into its third day, the VC remains unyielding and hostile in her reticence to address the students’ demands. She was absent from office today. But all that the students needed to replace her with was an effigy. At least we could commit the mannequin to flames. At least, it promised to melt.
Today, one could only hope that the admin continued the squabble with its own conscience (if any). Outside their walls, several civil and human rights organizations and student political parties from all over the state strengthened our resolve. They addressed the students and initiated a fact-finding program with regard to the on-going events in the university. APCLC, HRF, Civil Liberties Committee, SIO, Telangana Resource Centre and Telangana Praja Front, KNPS, BC Mahajana Samithi, PKM and HRLN expressed their solidarity with the EFLU students’ agitation and reported that the university administration was delivering contradictory statements regarding the concerned events.
The different student bodies (TSA, DABMSA, SIO, PDSU, MSF, BSU, TVV) leading the protest brought up a number of issues that attempt to threaten the integrity of claims made by us, the dissenters. The administration has been instrumental in manufacturing rumors that malign the spirit of the protest. Interestingly, some of these stories seem to portray the character of the deceased student in a certain sensational manner, to say the least.
The administration, along with the police has been hinting at the sexuality of the student and what could be its expression as the cause behind the conflict between him and his friend. We believe that Mudasir’s friend with whom he got into a fight is being forced by the administration and the police to give statements that frame Mudasir in a particular manner and to give his character an “unnatural” color. We strongly believe that these rumors spread by the administration uphold its homophobic attitude and its use of homosexuality as a pretext for abuse and discrimination.
Even in attempting to engage with the aspect of sexuality that this situation now brings forth, one finds a severe want of nuance in their language. In writing this commentary, one begins to face the limits of a campus, of a sociality, and of an administration that does not often know how to, and more often refuses to acknowledge sexualities, intimacies, and their various expressions. The laws of this administration are far too many and far too few to even begin to comprehend the singularities and the shared spaces our lives struggle to fit and to exceed: the distinctions between a friendly complainant and a complaining friend. One doesn’t know if violence is a manifestation of one’s struggles with this constant repression and readjustment with categories and terms. But one has to rethink the perfect fit that law enforces between violence and punishment.
We are beginning to question and further reinforce our beliefs that the administration could have done better, could have done the right thing; offered a heart and not a committee.
We also believe that it is time that we stand alongside Wasim, Mudasir’s friend, and understand that he may be alone in the face of an administration and a police system, wielding far too much power and far too much capacity to distort truths. We demand the administration ensure that Wasim be supported and accompanied at all times by his friends and family.
The air was rife with scorn, as they say: casteist scorn. A number of pamphlets were anonymously circulated only within the Administrative Block, mocking and deriding specific Dalit students and teachers who have contributed to the progressive thinking on this campus. We strongly condemn this distasteful and malicious attack on members of the university.
We also condemn the administration for not ensuring student safety against police. Some students, staying off campus were visited and questioned by members of the police in the early hours of the day. The lack of an official search warrant did not stop them from searching students’ premises.
The day ended with certain members of the Teachers’ Association masquerading as sympathetic individuals who felt our ‘local’ protest was unnecessarily fueling unrest at ‘national’ and ‘international’ levels. We are flattered but we refuse the ‘honor’. To hold us accountable for the present moment in a decades old struggle in Kashmir can only be called a shallow attempt at transferring a guilt we don’t deserve. And dear teachers (some of you at least), you should know, offering students membership to a farcical fact-finding committee while Vijra continues to hold power as proctor is an underestimation of our sensibilities and commitments that you surely lack.
We burnt the Vice Chancellor’s effigy amidst a sense of renewed purpose. We would stand together and fight again, tomorrow and day after and until our demands are met, unconditionally.
We the dissenting students welcome the UGC Task Force on Gender Sensitization in University Campuses that is scheduled to meet members of EFLU tomorrow.
Our demands remain:
1. Suspension of Proctor Harish Vijra immediately
2. University has to lodge a criminal case against Proctor Vijra
3. Monetary compensation of Rs.20 Lakhs to the deceased family
4. Provision of Employment to a member of the deceased family
5. Establishing a proper administrative system to prevent any further incidents of this sort.
6. Resolve all the existing pending cases filed by the students by taking an appropriate action against the erring authorities.