By Adil Bhat
Ahead of 2016 Independence Day celebrations, the Delhi Police, that comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India, and not under the Government of Delhi, in a most abrasive act conducted random ‘raids’ inside the hostels of Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi.
Tension brewed in the campus, as students feared onslaught from the present government in power at the centre. Hundreds of students started protesting on the night of August 13, two days before the celebrations of the Independence Day. Calling it a “routine security exercise”, the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), South East Zone, dismissed the allegations of raid.
Following the ‘security checks’, there were spontaneous protests by the students in the main campus that continued till late night. The students shouted slogans against the Proctor and the Vice-Chancellor. A hassled protestor said, “Though the warden and the provost deny giving permission for any such raid, the question is not whether they gave the permission or not. The question here is, why this raid? And why will the University administration allow Police to raid hostel premises?”
According to students, the Police came inside the hostel campus in plain clothes, took a few snapshots of students, and also checked their identity cards. Another student added, “This is scary. We are here together fighting for our basic rights to live on our university campus like students of any other campus. This snap checking definitely has to do with the identity of the most of the students studying here.”
The student and political leader from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Umar Kalid, argued on a similar line, when he said that we need to look at this incident in the larger framework of communal politics. He said during a telephonic interview, “Jamia has undergone profiling from last three months and the Government wants to scrap minority status that has been given to Jamia. This is a strategy by the RSS to terrorize the students.” He added that the raids could take place because of the administration’s consent. However, Umar stated that the proctor denies his consent over the Saturday raids.
A Jamia student leader, requesting anonymity, said, “We want press conference where the administration and Vice Chancellor should render an apology, so that there is no such incident in future.”
Former Vice-President of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) and a member of the All India Students Association (AISA), Shehla Rashid Shora, expressed her angst against this measure, as she clearly stated, “They raided this University because it is a Muslim University and it is one such University that gives Muslims a platform for higher education and other professional courses.”
Ambreen Agha, a former student of JNU and currently a researcher at the Institute for Conflict Management, agreed with Khalid. In a conversation with this scribe over the phone, she said, “The raids in Jamia need to be contextualized in the current environment of communalization that we are witnessing in the country. Targeting students, especially those belonging to a particular minority community, is nothing less than deliberate intimidation and instilling fear. This is no ‘security check’!! The latest attack on Jamia, followed by such malignant attacks on other University campuses across the country, only exhibits the state’s loss of sense of responsibility towards its citizens. First comes human security and to achieve this the Government at the Centre needs to abandon its long-standing policy of employing state apparatus in its exercise of communal politics.”
While some students are still carrying on with the protests, claiming that university authorities failed to prevent the Police from entering the hostel, there are others who have withdrawn support from the protesting students, saying, “We are here to study and not for politics.”
The recent raid, however, raises the following question: Has the Government been successful in achieving what it desired, the de-politicization of campuses across country, in this case Jamia?
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