[ In a dramatic new development, four students, Umar Khalid (ex-DSU), Anirban (ex-DSU), Rama Naga and Asutosh (AISA), from amongst the list of ‘students wanted by the police’ resurfaced on the night of Sunday, 21 February, and stayed with their fellow students till the early hours of Monday, February 22 on the JNU campus. Reportedly, they are still on campus, with their fellow students. One of them, Umar Khalid, spoke at a large gathering in front of the administration block, where all protesting students have been meeting. The gathering was also addressed by the Jawahar Lal Nehru Students’ Union (JNUSU) vice-president and All India Students Association (AISA) activist, Shehla Rashid Shora (against whom there are no charges made out by the police at the moment). The police, did not enter the campus at that time, given the very large number of students who had gathered in solidarity with their ‘wanted’ friends. The statements of the JNUSU vice president, Shehla Rashid Shora, and of Umar Khalid (who is one of students ‘wanted’ by the police), were recorded by a correspondent of the online portal, Catchnews.com during the early hours of Monday, 22nd February, as they addressed the gathered students. We are sharing those recordings, with thanks to Catchnews.com, with our transcript/translation of what was said by both Shehla and Umar. As is clear from both statements, the students are not in hiding, they are offering peaceful resistance, and the charges of sedition against them are utterly without foundation. Listen, and read, for yourselves.]
- Translated Excerpts of JNUSU Vice President Shehla Rashid Shora’s Speech (in 2 parts)
“The student community is here present, with the wanted students.
We know that there are informers present here, that there are people of the right wing here, informers of the administration here, policemen in plain clothes, we recognize them well, but let us Let us show them the beauty of our politics. Our show of strength is not a show of muscle, it is a show of solidarity, it is a show of support.
Even if we have three times the number of students that are here right now, we will not attack you, we will not go into any physical confrontation with you, we will not physically obstruct you, But we will ensure that no one will be arrested in isolation, in a clandestine manner (like what happened with our comrade president).
We make an appeal, if there are arrests, (though I do not think that the police will have the guts to come in now, seeing this crowd). But if any friend of ours is arrested, then we will offer arrest peacefully, and we will raise we will raise slogans in support of those being arrested. And we will document it all, with our cell phones, and we ask the media present here to record it as well. Please record that beautiful show of solidarity. And that will not be morphed, that will not be manipulated, that will not be cropped. We will run them in their totality in the social media. And we expect that those sections of the media that are perhaps slightly progressive will run them in their totality, in the right spirit. That is the sole purpose of our gathering here today.
We appeal to friends in the media to report what is happening in the campus in a positive spirit. Show the beautiful spirit of this campus. Do not demonize us, do not demonize any of our friends.
You know that a reporter, Vishwa Deepak, from Zee News wrote a letter of resignation, (protesting against the way the reporting has been done in Zee News). We read out that letter earlier in a meeting today, but, perhaps we need to read it again because there are so many more people here now. So if any one can read Hindi well, they should read that letter again…”
“…We want to ask a question. The friends from the Police who are present here in plain clothes, listen to our question carefully. You call these innocent students terrrorists. Now, If, for so many years, so many of these so called ‘deadly terrorists’, who have been moving about in plain sight in prime locations, in the national capital, what were you (police) doing? Were you sleeping then? Here, when there are innocent students who are being branded as terrorists. When they were marching the streets, demanding their fellowships, demanding freedom as and for young women, you, the police were sleeping then. I will not say that the campus is scared. But there is an attempt to terrorize us. We are not able to figure out a pattern. We tried to figure out four categories of people, but there is no pattern. At random, people are receiving notices from the proctors office. Peoples’ houses are being raided, and people are getting verification teams sent to their homes. And there is no pattern, no discernible pattern to this And this is being done to terrorize the student community. This is being done to terrorize the student community This is being done to strike terror in our hearts, so that we may not rise in protest, so that another another Asutosh, another Anirban, another Aishwarya, another Shveta,is not produced amongst us, and this entire leadership is wiped out. There are eight names , eight leading activists of the campus, that have been debarred. What is this pattern ? Do we not understand this? We understand this pattern very well. You want to attack the left, you want to attack the entire leadership, you want to wipe out the entire leadership, so that the ABVP can have an easy run in the next election whenever it happens. So we want to ask, when there is an attempt to terrorize the student community in this way, then who is the real terrorist here ? Is it the students, or the administration? Is it the students, or the police? Is it the students, or the MHRD?
We have seen how in HCU, they terrorized those five people (students), they terrorized Rohith and his friends, they terrorized him to an extent that he had to hang himself. That is the kind of terror that they have unleashed. What they have done in Dadri, that is no less than terror. What they have done right now in Haryana, that is no less than terror.
In the name of demanding reservation for jats, there is a process underway right now, there is a communal flare up that is being engineered right now. We request you, we request all of you who have contacts in Haryana, to warn people of these designs.”
2. Umar Khalid’s Speech
[ …”My name is Umar Khalid, and I am not a Terrorist…”]
Two Excerpts from Umar’s Speech
“Friends in the last few days,in the last ten days, I got to know a few things about myself, that I did not know before.I got to know that I have been to Pakistan twice, even though I do not have a passport.
Then I got to know that I am the ‘mastermind’. JNU students have wonderful minds, but I was projected as the mastermind. That I have been planning these events in seventy-eighty universities. I diid not know that I have that kind of influence. That i have been planning these meetings for the last 10 months. I mean, if it takes 10 months to plan such a public meetings, then, JNU will shut down.
I got to know that I have made 800 phone calls – no need for evidence, nothing, and where have I called to the Gulf, to Kashmir, who knows where else. At least bring some evidence.
The way that they have tried to frame us in a media trail. I mean, even after there was a statement from the IB, from the government, that there is no link with the Jaish-E-Muhammad, even after that no one in the media channels that tried to frame us in media trials felt no need to offer an apology, a disclaimer, for trying to defame us, trying to frame us.
My name was associated with Jaish-E-Muhammad. At first I laughed, because, if the Jaish-E- Muhammad gets to know this they will protest against being associated with someone like me at Jhandewalan.
If these media channels think they will get away with this, with the way they have told lies, then they are mistaken.
If anyone speaks up against something in this country, then, If someone is an adivasi, they call him a Maoist. If someone is a muslim, they call him a Terrorist. There has been a whole process like this (in the media) with the backing of the entire state apparatus, behind this kind of media trial. Perhaps many such people, (who are attacked in this way) , they are helpless, have no one to speak for them, but in this case, but in this case, they (the media channels) are mistaken, you have taken on the wrong kind of people, there are thousands here to speak up. Each media channel will have to account for its actions.
I was not very concerned about myself. Because I know that you were with me, in your thousands. But I did get concerned, I did start panicking, when my father was threatened, when my sister was threatened with rape. When I heard about death threats, It was then that I got concerned. I remembered that when some Christian nuns were threatened with rape by the Bajrang Dal in Kandhamal (in Orissa) they were raped to the accompaniment of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’. It was then that I remembered Comrade Kanhaiya, our student union president say, that if this is your Bharat Mata then she cannot be our mother.
There are some journalists, come in Zee News, a gentleman in Times Now, whom I will not like to name, and their agents, small time TV reporters here, I do not know where they get this kind of hatred for JNU students from.
I would like now to focus on something slightly personal, for a bit.
I said this sometime ago, I will repeat this again, In the last six-seven years, when I have done politics in this campus, I have never thought of myself as a Muslim, I have never also projected myself as a Muslim. Today, I think, the oppression that there is in society, is not only on Muslims, it is there on dalits, it is there on Adivasis. It is on every oppressed section, And we, who come from these oppressed sections, these communities and oppressed identities. There is a need for us to come out of these immediacies and look at all of these things in a holistic manner. I felt i am a Muslim, for the first time, in these last seven years, only in the last ten days.
The manner in which, to quote Rohith Vemula, “I was reduced to my immediate identity”, is very shameful.
They are saying that I am a Pakistani agent, So let me quote a Pakistani poet (Habib Jalib?)
“Are Bhai, Hindustan bhi Mera hai, Pakistan bhi Mera ha, par dono mulkon par Amerika ka dera hai”
“Brother, Hindustan is mine, and Pakistan is mine, but on both these lands, America has its design”
And you – the BJP – clients and agents of America – you dare teach us what is patriotism. You who are selling this country, its mineral resources, its people, its labour, even its education system – at the WTO – you dare teach us.
So to my fellow ‘Anti-Nationals’ I say, ‘Anti-Nationals of the World Unite. Our love for the people, know no boundaries, know no borders. We are against all governments, all oppressors, everywhere.”
“According to Zee News, Kashmiri students ‘infiltrated’ the JNU campus. Now, this means that they came from a foreign country, without immigration, We have seen this kind of language, this kind of vilification. We have seen this eight years ago in Jamia Millia. We have seen the way different people are projected as ‘masterminds’. I was not worried about what would happen to me if I got arrested, I knew that the JNU community, which knows us, which knows my comrades, amongst whom we conducted our politics, that you would all stand by me. And the kind of solidarity that came our way, I would really like to thank you all for it, I read the letters, I got five open letters, four of them I really appreciated. They were really, really good. i would like to thank Pahlavi Paul, I would like to thank Arshi, I would like to thank Swara Bhaskar, and the fourth person whose name I cannot recall like now. I was reading everything, I was going through everything.
I was not scared then, when I was going through this, but think about it, the kind of propaganda there was, the kind of media trial there was – think about those people, in Azamgarh, who were called the residents of ‘Aatankgarh’ – (Terrorist Fort) – they did not have the kind of support that we have here – think about what happened in Malegaon, think about what happened with the muslim youth of Malegaon – how they were trapped in false cases – they were accused of exploding bombs, I was only accused of raising some slogans – they were put away for many years – and then they were released – and then it came to light that all of this was done by Hindutva forces. They lost eight or nine years of their lives. Can those lost years be returned to them ?
Today, I am standing here talking to you. But I know what my family has had to go through in these last few days. I know the threats that my father has received. I know the kind of horrible language was on my sisters Facebook page. It reminded me of the fact that when Bajrang Dal goons raped a Christian nun in Kandhamal, they said ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’
Friends, I won’t say very much. I don’t know what to say now. But during these days, I have realized, what we keep saying again and again – JNU is not an island. And what we saw was that this was not an isolated island that was happening here. While JNU students were being witch-hunted, while there was a media trial going on against the students of JNU, the same was happening with workers in the Honda Factories in Haryana and Rajasthan, the same was happening in Chhattisgarh with the Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group, with Malini Subramaniam, and yesterday, the shameful, shameful attack on Soni Sori – I condemn that shameful attack on Soni Sorry from this platform and want to express solidarity with all those people who fighting for justice, who are standing in solidarity with all those adivasis (indigenous peoples) who are fighting for their water, their land, their forests. And let me say also, while this was going on, three young people were killed in Kashmir by the army. All these attacks, requires us to see things from a holistic perspective, and without situating ourselves as privileged, strive for a unity with all those who are oppressed, and this is our most important responsibility today.
If 1947 was our so called ‘tryst with destiny’, then what is happening today is our tryst with reality.
And today, its up to us, how we undertake this tryst with reality.
When we speak of Fascism, Fascism, Fascism, what are we saying?
We have fought to carve this democratic space in this campus, which we have carved out with our struggles. but we cannot take it for granted. Whenever we speak up, whenever we speak for rights, these things will happen.
The way Prof. Geelani has been detained. We demand, from this platform that he be released, that false cases against be dropped, and that he be released unconditionally.
In conclusion, I would like to talk about what started all this. The programme of 9th February. This was not the first time that the programme of 9th February was observed. We were not the first people to talk about Kashmir. We were not the first people to raise questions about Afzal Guru’s execution. It is correct to say that some slogans were raised by some people at that event, which were perhaps not our slogans. Our slogan is about the ‘right to self determination’. Those slogans were not just about self determination. The modest difficulty that I see with those slogans is that they could only have antagonized the very people, the Indian population, with whom we are seeking to enter into a dialogue. They create antagonism rather than a dialogue.
I am not justifying anything, but the onus is also on us to understand where this anger comes from.
In the end, what I want to say is – a lot is being said today about the definition of nationalism, and devotion to the nation. A lot of strange things are being said. I don’t believe in any nationalism. Let me say this very categorically. I don’t believe in Indian nationalism, I don’t believe in American nationalism. I don’t believe in any nationalism. I dream of a world without nations, I dream of a world without borders. And my friends and my comrades, let’s imagine that world. That world is possible. Another world is possible, and its up to us to create that world, and its up to us, its our responsibility. History will judge how much we stood that test of time in this difficult time.
Thank you and Long live the revolution (Inquilab Zindabad).”
Thanks to Catch News, and to reporters Suhas Munshi and Vikas Kumar, video sourced from Youtube.