“It is an opportunity to make a fresh start”; In JNU around five hundred students march in protest against attack on Kashmiri students by ABVP

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A new move in JNU, as a result of coming together of all students from Jammu and Kashmir firstly and then of various students organizations including BAPSA, Fraternity, BASO, Hazrathein- queer collective etc. coming together, calls for protesting against the Indian occupation in Kashmir and communication clamp down. Around five hundred students marched in solidarity with besieged Kashmir on October 4th.

This spontaneous movement was triggered by the visit of union minister Jitendra Singh to talk to students on ‘Abrogation of Article 370: Peace, Stability and Development in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh’, on third of October. Sixteen students protested at the convention centre where the talk was supposed to happen. The protesters including Kashmiri students and a journalist who came to cover the event got attacked by an ABVP mob.

The prominent slogans of the protest march were “Kashmir belongs to Kashmiris, not to Modi”. Slogans against the use of pellets and bullets, night raids, arrests, Public Safety Act and UAPA raised. The protest march reminded that the students remember Kunan Poshpora.

Kashmiri students stated that they cut off the middle men  and they will fight for themselves. “Some left people, specifically from AISA, I saw them shouting over Kashmiri people, I mean this protest was in solidarity with Kashmir! Not muzzling their voices further, I fail to understand what have we come down to”, a Kashmiri student who got attacked by ABVP spoke out to the student community gathered. Here is the full text of speech the student.

“There were 16 of us who dared to raise voice against the mighty RSS, BJP in the form of Jitendra Singh. It was the minimum that could do, ideally everyone should have come. Sixteen of us, were raising placards in a silent protest and were surrounded by a mob of sixty people, and we were sending SOS calls throughout the campus, but who came? I am just asking a question here, the elected representatives of the union, can I ask you if you can find one here? May be they are here somewhere I can’t see them, when there was an SOS situation yesterday, we were surrounded by sixty ABVP people on one side, forty guards on the other side, sitting mum. And they crowded us exactly like this. On top of that they throw Republic, Times Now, these news channels did a media lynching on us. They did a live media trial of us. and all this while we were sending SOS messages to the union, as a respectable organization some of who came today, I think if they expect any gratitude, I think there is no gratitude in politics. Like some organizations at the union, I see them at the back there.

I also saw them when Kashmiri students were sloganeering. Some left people, specifically from AISA, I saw them shouting over Kashmiri people, I mean this protest was in solidarity with Kashmir! Not muzzling their voices further, I fail to understand what have we come down to. It was almost a shouting match between AISA cadre and Kashmiri students.When there were attempts made, when were sending SOS messages, so many of us hurt physically, woman councilor from SL, she was wearing a hijab, they manhandled her hijab, they tore our posters in front of us, and they asked, hamare saath guards hei, tum log kya karogi? (we have our guards with us, what will you do?) This is the brazen attitude friends, this is the fascist onslaught in this campus, they all fights on paper, in reality, people like us, common students and other concerned individuals who fights day in and day out.

I want this to put on record, yesterday it was durgashtami, you please do a media google search, you will get videos were you will come to know what kind of a media trial it was? There were sixty posters, there is no scope for provocation or whatever they might call it, End the information blockade, lift the curfew, we show Jean Dreze’s indicator, how Gujarat model is a failure in front of indicators of J and K, this was all we were showing yesterday, they ran a media trial and said “these are tukde tukde gang”. This might be having the risk of bringing the downfall of every citizen who right now living in the borders of this country, like NRC. Friends, I just want to keep these things in record because so much of people come to do politics in the name of Kashmir. During election, we see amongst the left section specifically, a lot of lip service goes, a lot of rumors going on, there is a proper infrastructure and machinery, which the left organizations in campus not developed more than thirty years now. And they have mechanized it into such sophisticated levels, they, every organization, SFI people say “arrey saathi, personally I am with Kashmir, organizationally I am not” AISA has a different thing, saathi we are with self determination, but we are not with self determination till secession. Every left parties, about DSF what should I say to comment on an Islamophobic conversation. I think that is waste of our precious time.

These are the realities with which people from oppressed nationalities and other locations live with everyday. When my heart pains the most, when people from most of these left organizations, they do politics in my name. They make political currency and benefit out of that. Few days back we heard that minister Jitendra Singh is coming here. We thought no as the union claims, union is of every student in this campus. What did they say, it is not the seat of power, it is the seat of struggle. I was struggling for three days to contact you to get a bloody reply and acknowledgement for me, you could have said “no” also to me. I wouldn’t have felt bad because I know your reality. I was just calling out your lip service. I am giving you a context, how people whether from the oppressed nationalities or from the other locations, how they feel. But friends, the best development in silver lining in this is that, all the middle men have to be cut today. We have cut off the middle men. We the students of Jammu and Kashmir, you know how left people will come in front of us, some left sections, they will scare us, don’t do much protests friend, you will get targeted, do you know something? That is the way Kashmiri students are depoliticized on purpose. I have seen this.

These are also the things which I thought needed to be put on context. But what I see as a good development is, personally, for the first time, students from Jammu and Kashmir, we sat down today. We materialized so many conclusions. On how to fight this fight and this protest march is actually a manifestation of that. The students of Jammu and Kashmir, we don’t want to depend on these middle men. We will do it by ourselves. We will hold our talks ourselves. We will be our voices ourselves. There is no scope for middle men anymore. If you want to be in solidarity, please don’t give us terms and conditions applied. I narrated what happened yesterday. What is more important also is that the way ahead. Today is the break through, I came here in 2016, I never saw a gathering this big, in JNU campus. I never saw a discourse generating like this. Therefore I just want to share this with you, friends, here is an opportunity for us. To undo the wrongs whatever done.

It is an opportunity to make a fresh start. My younger brother, we are born from the same mother but I have some minute political differences with him too. We are not a homogenous crowd here, we will have political differences but the question is how will we keep our political differences aside, how will we develop convergence, how will we develop common minimum and how will we go ahead on this. So friends, here is an opportunity for us, it should not be like, today all of us came, I am thankful to you for that, but it shouldn’t be something we came, we sloganeered and tomorrow we forget, that we will wait ABVP to harm another Kashmiri student or anyone else. In that sense our reactions are nothing but reactionary action. So if we could use this new development as a new start, as a new discourse on Kashmir, to counter all their false claims, “bhai, Dal lake mein shikara chal raha hei(shikara is moving through Dal lake), therefore it is normalcy”, can shikara take the sky? We have to counter this claim, I am requesting you, it is an appeal, today we met, and then forgot, no we have to stay together, if you have five ideas, I would have one, from this many will get filtered and we will select one. With that idea we will start a new discourse. We should be aware and pro active, Kashmiri students will fight for themselves. Interventions are absolutely ritualistic. I was having this question in my mind and I was thinking out loud, please don’t even do that ritual. There is a danger. We have done the ritual today, later we forgot. Keep this in mind, in the coming days we will start a new discourse on Kashmir from this campus.

The student responded to specific questions to Keyboard Journal about the protests that took place inside the campus, “right after the article 370 was abrogated, right after that there was a protest, if we see that, it was to their credit, called by the union, it was just to mark their attendance. They just marked their attendance and had been bunking all the protests, just to perform ritual, like you see 62 day and counting on Kashmir and till now nothing, which is what is happening.

For sixty two days it was absolutely mum, had Jitendra Singh not come, there wouldn’t have been this spontaneous protest, him justifying the violence and lock down in the name of development. So in that sense people of Kashmir are thankful to Jitendra Singh he united us, there was just fifteen of us, we were waiting for him to arrive, after the silent protest with banners outside the minister’s talk held auditorium we took a march to Sabarmati dhaba yesterday from convention centre, we decided that we should make a move today. There were attempts, Yogi Adityanath invited Kashmiri students of Aligarh Muslim University to discuss benefits of abrogation of article 370, in Jamia too certain attempts were made, both in Jamia and Aligarh, students came out with statements in public domain, it is in the media. In this regard today the Kashmiri students had a meeting, our statement too will come in the public domain soon. There are Kashmiri students who are going through hardships in these universities, not only in india, abroad too. It took sixty days, that is how things are in JNU, how seriously political are people here, that is how politics is in JNU. It took violence, it took people to be harassed and assaulted for everyone to come here. In that sense this new development Kashmiri students are here, there are Indian critical organizations in these campuses, they would try to protect and be messiahs of us. Now you see, there is a point of departure from that, from Jamia, from AMU, everywhere. They are assaulting our autonomous status, that is how I feel.

Students from Kashmir are facing hell lot of problems, a friend’s friend from Kashmir had to send his mobile phone to sustain himself. He couldn’t contact parents. We came to know about this, we dealt with it at a community level. It is not something new for us, seventy years we had always been in this, 365 days a year, 150 days are curfewed in Kashmir. How does a daily wage laborer sustain? We take care of each other, that applies to student community that’s how we survive, otherwise we won’t.”

Students who spoke at the protest meeting also condemned the ways in which university union president Aishe Ghosh responded to the attack on Kashmiri students’ by ABVP mob. Students questioned the mainland apathy that carries forward the siege in Kashmir and questioned the fetishizing and romanticizing narratives about Kashmir through privileged female bodies in the Indian films. They questioned the double standard leftist student organizations which are part of the students union express when it comes to the question of Kashmir. The students unanimously acknowledged the fact that when the extremity of Hindu terrorism is going on in Kashmir, it becomes an important historical point where different students organizations has to come together to stand with the cause Kashmiri students are fighting for.


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