All posts by Nivedita Menon

Muslims held hostage by a criminal state apparatus in UP – a report on Sambhal

Sustained reportage by dogged and principled journalists and investigation by citizens’ groups have gradually begun to illuminate the terrible darkness around anti CAA protests in UP over December 2019. Every single one of these has exploded the narrative fostered by the UP government, police and compliant local media, of violent mobs destroying public property and attacking police.

We have all noted that massive marches against the CAA have taken place all over the country, but have “turned violent” only in BJP ruled states. The various reports that are now emerging, reveal the extent to which the UP police either acted as a violent mob itself, or used police informers or local RSS organizations to start stone pelting and other such acts to disrupt non-violent marches, and to provide an excuse for violent police action.

A public hearing on state action in UP will be held in Delhi on January 16th, 2020, bringing together all the information collected by different groups of people who have visited different parts of the state.

Here we present the report on Sambhal.

SAMBHAL

A team went to Sambhal from Karwan-e-Mohabbat on 2 January, 2020, consisting of Ayesha Kidwai, Farida Khan, Navsharan Singh, Nivedita Menon, Sandeep Yadav, Sumit Gupta, Tanika Sarkar and Varna Balakrishnan. Continue reading Muslims held hostage by a criminal state apparatus in UP – a report on Sambhal

Hope, solidarity and struggle in JNU: Women of Sabarmati

WOMEN OF SABARMATI WRITE:

The outpouring of solidarity and generosity on the JNU campus, since the attack of 5th January 2020 has been overwhelming.

Hostels have organised guerilla dhabas at Sabarmati. They have sung revolutionary songs while making pans of maggi and distributing jhal muri and peanuts.

Men from the hostel that distributed peanuts, worried about the mess of the peanut shells at our hostel entrance, even offered to sweep up the place, brooms at the ready.

Three women in the women’s wing in Sabarmati threw all the women in the hostel a party two nights ago.

During and after the events of the 5th, neighbours have become friends.

Our teachers have been coming to meet us every day. Some have brought bags full of snacks. Some have organised trauma sessions for us. Some have just held us.

And tonight Brahmaputra hostel organised a Sadbhavna mela for the campus. Free snack stalls all around, dholak music to dance to and a large Lohri bonfire.

As some of us women from Sabarmati were walking back towards Ganga dhaba tonight, discussing how this is the first time our hostel has no Lohri celebrations, the men from Kaveri stopped us to offer popcorn from their Lohri celebrations.

JNU was home, is home, and will remain home.

Wall of resistance at Brahmaputra

It’s We the People, not we the Citizens, of India!

Image courtesy News 18

People, Persons, Citizens

When the idea of citizenship is wielded like a deadly weapon to deprive people of basic rights rather than to empower them, it’s time to think about the basis of rights differently.  While in the Preamble to the Constitution, ‘we the people’ resolve to secure to all its ‘citizens’ justice, liberty, equality and fraternity; Article 14 of the Fundamental Rights ensures equality before the law to all “persons”, not only to citizens.

The people of a land precede the creation of “citizens”, and we the people of India must think seriously at this moment in our history, about how justice is to be secured to all persons, and whether citizenship is an emancipatory idea any longer.

Consider the revealing and tragic irony of one of the accused arrested for his alleged role in violence during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 (CAA) , in East Delhi’s Seemapuri. Through his counsel, in a Delhi court, he claimed to be a juvenile, and to prove this, produced certificates from the madarsa at which he studies.

Delhi Police, however, claimed that these documents were insufficient to establish his age, and requested permission for a bone ossification test. The counsel of the accused argued that according to central government notifications, madarsa certificates are sufficient to prove age, but the Delhi court permitted police to carry out the ossification test.

Imagine the claim of such a person to  citizenship and to inclusion in the National Register of Citizens (NRC)! Continue reading It’s We the People, not we the Citizens, of India!

Dayaar-E-Shauq Mera – Land of my Hopes: Faiz Ullah

As Jamia Teachers Association calls for a candelight vigil at India Gate TODAY at 5 pm (December 23, 2019), we are publishing an earlier Facebook post by FAIZ ULLAH on Jamia written soon after the police violence at the university during the anti-CAA protests there.

Dayaar-e-shauq mera is the anthem of Jamia Milia Islamia. Translation of the lyrics at this link.

FAIZ ULLAH writes:

Jamia Millia Islamia for me, and many like me who grew up in the small neighbourhoods around it, is not just a institution of higher education. It is our nursery, our playground, and where we came of age. My family moved from Bara Hindu Rao to Jamia Nagar area in the mid 1980s because my father thought living in the vicinity of an educational institution would be good for us. I am not very sure if the anti-Sikh violence of 1984 Delhi was a decisive reason for him to move us to a place he thought would be safe, but looking back I think he did kind of foresaw the shape of things.

Over the next couple of decades my elder brother studied History, My sister Social Work, and I, Mass Communication at Jamia. My niece will graduate this year from the same university in which her grandfather also enrolled for a while for his fourth degree – he had to drop out in the first year because he was already running a small primary school with my mother and practicing law on the side.

My brother was active in the students’ politics circles and served as the joint secretary of the university’s students’ union. This often translated into arguments between him and my father, not over his politics but that he would be too involved in it and would disappear for days without any information.

Continue reading Dayaar-E-Shauq Mera – Land of my Hopes: Faiz Ullah

The Philadelphia Coalition Against Fascism in India Protest Against CAA and NRC


The Philadelphia Coalition Against Fascism in India held a protest
Against CAA and NRC on December 19, 2019. 

Students from several colleges in the Philadelphia area and beyond, including UPenn, Drexel, Temple, Villanova, and Rutgers; working professionals, and business graduates gathered in solidarity with student protests in India and against the imposition of the CAA and the NRC.

We read the preamble to the Indian constitution together and also took a pledge vowing to reject the CAA, the NRC, and the project of the RSS and BJP that seeks to turn India into a Hindu Rashtra.

Nearly 150 Philadelphians have signed this petition which affirms that

We will never accept these unconstitutional and unconscionable moves, and today join Indians from all over the country, and from every religion, caste, and region, to stand against any and all assaults on the idea of India as a secular, democratic republic.” It also points out that “there are many of Indian origin and heritage in the U.S. who are both concerned about events in India and condemn them. We have a responsibility to speak up in support of those resisting on the ground. … Those of us who live in Philadelphia, and believe in building a more free and just world, cannot stand by as fascist forces execute their programs of violence and exclusion. We stand proudly with the people of India against these excesses.

Two international statements in solidarity with anti CAA protests in India

  1. From UMASS and Five Colleges

We, the undersigned members and alumni of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and the Five College Area write in solidarity and support of the protests in India and elsewhere against the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019, and express our complete rejection of this act.

We are deeply concerned about the violence against students in India’s universities, particularly at Jamia Milia Islamia, Delhi and at Aligarh Muslim University. The crackdown on universities has produced shocking images of violence, including tear-gassing hostel rooms and libraries, brutal and illegal violence in police detention, communally charged comments against students, and assault on female protestors. We condemn both the illegal crackdown on dissent, and the particularly communal and gendered nature of this crackdown, unequivocally support and admire the protesters who continue to take to the streets.

We are also extremely dismayed by the ongoing repression in the states of North-East India and Kashmir, and call on the Indian state to cease its internet shut-down. While this internet shut down has made communications and precise reports of the situation on the ground difficult, the news that has filtered through, regarding repression of protests in Tripura, Manipur, Assam, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh is extremely troubling. In this light, we also express our serious concern over the recent detainment and torture of Assam activist Akhil Gogoi, a sustained and vocal critic of the Citizenship Amendment Bill/Act, under the UAPA and NIA acts.   

Read the full statement here.  

2. From students, faculty and alumni of Syracuse University, Hamilton College, Colgate University, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry and Ithaca College, and the broader Central New York community.

As members of the Central New York community concerned about the brutal police violence against students at Jamia Milia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University, two public universities with a predominantly Muslim minority student body, we join millions of students in at least 15 cities across India to express our solidarity with students protesting the Bharatiya Janata party’s
anti-Muslim Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019.

#SOSJamiaAMU and #RejectCAA represent the grassroots student movement protesting the CAA, recently passed by the upper and lower houses of the Indian parliament. The CAA grants
Indian citizenship to non-Muslim persecuted minorities seeking refuge in India from selected neighboring countries. This combined with the National Register of Citizens of India (NRC),
which is aimed at the disenfranchisement and detention of undocumented immigrants, equips the Hindu nationalist government to institutionalize ethnic cleansing of Muslim minorities. This systematic targeted violence is carried alongside increasing instances of lynchings of Muslims and caste-oppressed people. Further, the seemingly spontaneous resistance to the CAA out of Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia must be understood with respect to the history of these two universities as post-Partition Muslim-serving institutions.

Read the full statement here.

Why the JNU #FeesMustFall is a Mass Intersectional Movement: Paresh Hate

Guest Post by PARESH HATE

It has been more than a month that students in JNU have been protesting against the new IHA Hostel Manual. The fight had initially begun against the exorbitant fee hikes, introduction of curfew timings and dress codes, lack of reservations and deprivation points in the manual, and the undemocratic manner in which the manual was passed. At this juncture, the movement has become broader, and articulates its resistance to the National Education Policy and its defence of the idea of public university and what it stands for.

While there have been many attempts to characterize the students’ movement as anti-national and free-loading as usual by the right-wing media, it is clear that the political articulation of students has managed to transcend these limited dimensions offered by the discourse set by the public perception. Even the propagandists are this time at a loss as to how to demonise the movement. All they have been able to come up with is that the protests ‘disrupted traffic’ and that the protests are ‘political’. One is unable to understand how the latter is a jibe, when protests are obviously always political in nature, especially this one. The demonization of JNU is not simply about the social sciences, or left-oriented student politics, but also a manufacturing of consent toward the commercialization and a legitimizing of this government’s agenda to destroy public avenues of welfare. However, due to the developments that have taken place in the last few weeks, politics itself of the campus is churning, wherein what is emerging is a cultivated intersectional discourse that has resulted in the breathing of new life into the campus. Continue reading Why the JNU #FeesMustFall is a Mass Intersectional Movement: Paresh Hate