Other States

AMU, Jamia are emerging as epicentres of a national awareness

Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) is a political parable in today’s lunatic times, holding protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. The police entered the campus, wounded students and filed multiple FIRs against hundreds of them under stringent laws, in connivance with the university administration. All this happened when our Constitution, which is held in high regard globally, is in the midst of a visible eminent threat for the first time since Independence. A deliberate attempt is under way to rewrite it on communal lines.

AMU, that has earned eminence in academic ranking, is also a political enterprise that once mounted resistance to the British rule and contributed massively to nation building in the last 70 years. The university is locked today and the students have been forced to leave the campus. The forcible eviction of students from an institution of national importance is a wound that may heal with time, but the scars will persist.

Taken for granted

The CAA, when seen in conjunction with the National Register of Citizens (NRC), is preparing the grounds for violence in the nation. The silence that followed the revocation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and the Babri Majid verdict was taken for granted so much so that now Muslims are at the verge of losing citizenship. What adds to our worries is that all the important arms of our constitutional democracy — legislative, executive and judiciary — are openly displaying anti-Muslim prejudice.

When the political opposition in India fell like a pack of cards in Parliament, and Muslim leaders succumbed to their party lines while the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was enacted, it was a conscious decision by thousands of students of AMU to fight back. Aware of the implications and existential threat this new legislation poses and committed to the founding principles of the university, the students rose to the occasion and gathered on the campus for days to protest against this draconian Act.

It was in the spirit of AMU’s culture that the students opposed the communal and divisive CAA. From December 8 to 15, AMU students peacefully protested and demanded the rollback of the Act. On December 13, the AMU Students’ Union led a massive but peaceful march against the CAA and submitted a memorandum to the Chief Justice of India, asking him to declare the Act illegal and unconstitutional.

Partners in crime

Disturbed by the protests, the State machinery swung into action and barged into Jamia Millia Islamia and AMU, two universities with distinct character. The lockdown of the universities is a grim acknowledgment of the fact that rulers of the day lack the spine to intellectually engage with the students of the minority community. It is possible for the regime to send Human Resource Development Ministry officials to JNU to engage with protesters, but AMU and JMI can only expect tear-gas shells, stun grenades, bullets, pellets and hermeneutical violence. To add to the misery of the students, the ugly role of the AMU administration, which was aware of the ongoing peaceful protests but chose to be partners in crime with the U.P. police and permitted them to invade the campus despite their horrible record against minorities, was no less than a criminal act. The amputated hands, broken bones and injuries to over 100 students will remain the signposts of the students’ resistance. The verbal violence faced by the students from the police, as documented in the 32-page students’ union report, reflects how structural violence and deep-rooted institutional hate against Muslims in India exists under the garb of democracy.

India is going through a serious constitutional crisis due to the BJP’s Hindi, Hindu, Hindust(h)an agenda, which urgently requires rescue efforts. The State believes that excesses will instill fear in the hearts and minds of Muslims, but that must not be allowed to happen. At AMU, we have committed to fight for a humane and inclusive nation rooted in our freedom struggle that makes us equal citizens despite diversity of faiths and identities.

M. Salman Imtiaz is the president of Aligarh Muslim Students’ Union (AMUSU 2018-19)

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2021 2:55:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/amu-jamia-are-emerging-as-epicentres-of-a-national-awareness/article30453889.ece

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