It’s a rainy Wednesday. Scores of people are gathered outside Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University, protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act. A school bus drives by and the children on it shout, “We want freedom!” The protesters break into applause, expressing gratitude to the children for this show of solidarity.
A cry of “Jai Hind” echoes in the air. Passersby stop to look at the ongoing protest at Jamia. Not only the walls, even the roads are covered in graffiti, channelling the hope for revolution through art.
The Jamia protest, led by the students, against the citizenship law is nearing a month. Starting on December 13, the protest continued through New Year celebrations, and some students feel it has only strengthened in the new year.
Shikha Kapur, a professor in Jamia’s Adult and Continuing Education and Extension department, said, “One of the major problems we are facing right now is that the government is trying to privatise education. Our GDP has dropped significantly, businesses are going to ruin. The only way out of this is to come together and fight.”
Saima Saeed, another professor, said, “It’s a lesson for the entire world. Students in huge numbers are coming out on the streets. Even in rain, we are all here. Jamia has become exemplary for peaceful protests.” She added, “This fight is about recognition. We are asking for respect and recognition, not for charity. Democracy is hard-earned and can be lost if you don’t do enough. Since 2014, our democracy is in a dire state. Right now is the time for introspection. The situation is extremely grave. We are forced to come out on the roads despite our exhaustion and fatigue.”
Another teacher, who is a member of the Jamia Teachers’ Association, said, “Now even Bollywood has joined our protest. It’s important to popularise this movement. Therefore, go out and talk to people…We refuse to be a set of documents, our worth will not be limited to a set of documents.”
Naseem Ahmad, secretary of the Jamia Administrative Staff Association, said, “We are with you in this fight. We are fully with the students. Any help needed from the Jamia administration will be granted. We will continue this movement peacefully and there is no power which can weaken it.”
Jabeer Hasan, the secretary of Shafiqur Rehman Kidwai Association’s, an association of professors, said, “Friends, today’s meeting is special in two ways. First, the students of Jamia have carried out their everyday struggle in such a beautiful way. They deserve a salute. Another, the Bharat bandh call given by many trade unions. Both show we are against the undemocratic nature of this government. We will not be scared. Yahan ka har zarra humari ganga jamuni tehzeeb ka saboot deta hai.”
Haris Haque, another member of the Jamia School Teachers’ Association, said, “We want to dedicate today’s Bharat bandh and Jamia’s protest to all the students fighting CAA, NRC and privatisation of education. The present government’s targeting of JNU, calling them ‘tukde tukde gang’ is entirely wrong. It is Shah and Modi who are the real tukde tukde gang.”
Arif Mohd, a professor at Jamia, said, “Jamia teachers will not forget the attack on our students. Hum apne hausle buland rakhengey.” We will not let our courage falter.
Zeeshan Zameer Ahmad, a teacher in the music department, sang Hum Dekhengey, a poem by Faiz Ahmad Faiz, and the crowd joined him. The roads of Jamia roared with their song of unison.