Last evening what happened at Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia was truly frightening. Possibly, it symbolized the mood of our times: the coming age of brutality and insensitivity. Yes, the Citizen Amendment Bill-precisely, because of its discreminatory character and religious bias– has already caused widespread anguish and protest throughout the country–from Assam to Bengal to Delhi. The fear among the minorities; the anxiety centred on the very idea of India; the apprehension about the enormous difficulties they would face to keep their documents ready, particularly in a country known for a corrupt/inefficient bureaucracy; and the might of the aggressive/triumphant Hindutva have created a toxic environment filled with psychic anxiety and existential insecurity.
Yet, when people come to the streets, articulate their concerns, and raise their dissenting voice against the CAB (its consequences could be disastrous), we feel the power of resistance against the tyranny of the ruling regime. Democracy can sustain itself only through these critical voices.
Yes, Jamia students are protesting against the CAB; and to protest–and that too a nonviolent protest–is their right. As it is reported by some agencies, including the police– some outsiders became violent, destroyed public property, attacked the cops and took shelter inside the Jamia campus; and this led the Delhi police to enter the campus. Even if this version is true, what can by no means be defended is the way the police fired tear gas shells inside the Jamia library. Moreover, as the reports from social media and many other sources are coming, the students were brutally attacked, and some of them were severely injured. It was shocking.
A library is a place of learning; it is the sacred space in a university. And see the insensitivity on the part of the Delhi police to humiliate and violate the human dignity of young students inside the library. Is it that the state’s ‘legitimate’ machinery has become absolutely illegitimate?
No, peace cannot be retained through the brute force used by the police. If the state becomes insensitive, and the arrogance of majoritarianism becomes the order of the day, what happened at Jamia is bound to recur everywhere. Hence, this ruthless attempt to silence the voice of the youth and destroy the fabric of a university must be condemned. And all those who have not yet lost the voice of sanity must come forward, and convey a strong message to the Union Home Minister that the Indian spirit of secular democracy and cultural pluralism has not yet died, and people would continue to protest, even if with the coercive machinery of the state, the Government seeks to create some sort of fear psychosis: a standardized strategy all authoritarian regimes have used throughout human history.