National

Walls of Jamia Millia Islamia still echo revolution

If you have ever been to Jamia Millia Islamia after December 15, you must have noticed how beautiful paintings and graffiti were created by artists on both sides of the road, on walls and even at Jamia entrances to show resistance and solidarity with the student fraternity who were agitating against Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019,  which is discriminatory and violates fundamental rights of equality and principle of secularism. On December 15, Jamia students came under attack by the police who used more brutal force and did not spare even those who were studying in the university library, let alone those who happened to be in the campus on that fateful day.

The author of this piece was featured on the walls of inquilab at Jamia

There is a story behind how all these graffiti and paintings came into existence on the walls of JMI campus as a symbol of resistance, resilience. 

On March 24, I received a call from one of my friends. She told me that all paintings and graffiti which were made by Jamia students in protest against the police brutality to Jamia students on December 15, 2019 were being erased and destroyed by the police since the morning of March 24.

Why she called my because I was the one who got both his hands fractured on December 15, 2019 while I was sitting in the university library preparing for my upcoming examinations along with Minhaj, another student who lost the vision of one of his eyes. Both of us have been featured on a painting at the gate of Nawab Pataudi Sports Complex along with several graffiti and paintings done by fine arts students of the Jamia to express resistance to police crackdown in JMI campus as well as to  convey messages to fellow Indian citizens that police reforms are need of the hour as suggested by various committees be it Gore Committee or Ribeiro Committee. If not, police will become less professional, more political, and will act like workers of the ruling party as is evident in the recent violence in Jamia and JNU campuses.

During Corona Lockdown, Delhi police getting walls of resistance defaced

In JMI, police acted in a hurry without even taking the necessary permission from the university authorities whereas in JNU, police chose not to act despite receiving many calls from distressed students. This kind of policing is not a healthy sign for any democratic country like India and if this trend continues, it may further erode police-public trust. Police have to arrest these trends eroding public-police trust and work on building a more pro-citizen force instead of one functioning on the lines it did during the British colonial regime.

In the wake of Corona pandemic, Jamia Coordination Committee (a student body) called off the protest on 23 March, after sustaining it for more than 100 days and it decided to cooperate with Government and university administration in the larger interests of the country and citizens.

Despite our active cooperation, what did we get in return? Nothing but defaced and destroyed graffiti. I wonder how defacing of graffiti by police would solve the coronavirus problem. Had the police shown a little alertness over Tablighi Jamaat issue, it could have saved many lives. 

In the whole incident I observed police’s insensitive approach towards protesters. Instead of tackling coronavirus, they were busy in defacing graffiti. I wonder how erasing graffiti would help us fight against the current crisis, especially when India is facing one of the biggest epidemics in recent history, given that our fragile health infrastructure with the availability of a bed-population ratio of 1:1000 while China, Italy and US have 4.3, 3.2 and 2.8 hospital beds per 1000 respectively. However, as informed and responsible citizens of this country we are with government to fight corona — together we can defeat this threat.

Being a part of the student community, what pained me most was the erasing of our graffiti and paintings by those in whom we posed our trust.

We will make graffiti once again when the university will open and we will continue to fight against injustice so that we preserve our social fabric and strive for an inclusive society as a way to live up to the expectations of our forefathers.

The author's photo on the cover 18th December 2019, The Telegraph 

Let’s hope Delhi police will behave professionally and will carry forward the legacy of its distinguished officers like Kiran Bedi and Niraj Kumar and that it will function in the same way as its motto announces: Shanti, Sewa, Nyaya.

Md. Mustafa is a student of Maters in social exclusion and inclusive policy at Jamia Millia Islamia. He may be contacted at md180892 [at] st.jmi.ac.in