Transcript and translation of Sharjeel Imam’s speech at AMU by Evita Das, Akshat Jain & Shahrukh Khatib with subheads added by the translators. You can also read an essay on SHarjeel Imam by Evita, Akshat and Shahrukh here
Violence at JNU
There was a protest happening in JNU. This is how the violence started. First, they sent the guards to dislodge the protestors. When the guards couldn’t do anything, people from the ABVP came, and blows were exchanged. First, the ABVP attacked and then the next day, the left attacked. After that the goons came to JNU. About a 100 of them. Co-incidentally, I had returned that very day to JNU after spending about 25 days at Shaheen Bagh. I reached JNU at 5 pm. I didn’t know that there was a fight happening. When I entered, I saw 3–4 goons with rods in their hands. I thought the crowd of protestors will be able to take care of them. How could I know a 100 more were on the way? Within an hour a hundred more goons arrived. We were in a different hostel, some distance away, and by the time we came back to the protest site, the mob had already done its work. We came back at 7:30 and their violence had started from about 6. We saw that the main gate was under the control of the police. All the roads were empty, no one else could be seen. The police officers had taken control of the gate at 6 itself, and they were the ones who were allowing the goons to enter the campus. We took a U-turn and started going back to the hostel. We saw a mob of about 60–70 people on bikes approaching us, and we were only 5–6 people. Everyone in the mob was armed with metal rods, sticks, etc. Two police officers were escorting them. We were told to buzz off from there so we left from a back alley. By the time we came running back with more people, we saw some 150–200 police officers approaching us. They surrounded the students who were getting ready to march and told the rest to leave. Now, in all this, the rooms of Kashmiris and Muslims were specifically targeted and vandalised. Many students jumped from their balconies and ran away. I want to register this fact that the CPM has been a violent party, it has historically been violent. It beats people up, just like the ABVP does, remember that. Both these parties are extremely violent. I will talk about the left later but remember that the CPM is a violent party. You can read its history in Kerala and Bengal. The way they show masculinity is by forming a mob and beating up three people just because those three did something the day before. Why do they need to do that? There is a method to lodge complaints. There is a way to do things. And if you are fighting, then fight all the way, don’t disappear when the fight comes to you, such that other students have to bear the brunt of what you did, if the campus is being attacked, then stand there like a wall. All of them were absent, this fact is very important and to be noted. Because of them common students got beaten up and got their heads smashed. The president of JNUSU, Aishe Ghosh, was the only one courageous enough to stand at the helm and take charge. The rest of the fighters were nowhere to be seen. As far as I know, at least, and I stood there from 7 onward myself.
Political history of the left parties in India
Now let me say a few words about the left. We have two types of problems with the left. In Islam, there are the concepts of manhaz and maslaq, substantive and nominal. Ahl-i Hadith can be substantive or it can be nominal, you can take the Hadith literally at all times or you can study it more substantively and interpret it according to the context. Institutions can also be substantive or nominal. Individuals too can follow everything that’s written blindly or they can hold the capacity to reason and contextualize. With reasonable people you can sit and debate about their point of view and your point of view, etc. As far as institutions go, their actions are well documented, we already know what a party stands for by what it does. The same way, a person can claim to be a communist, the discussion with him will be a certain way. If a person claims to be a member of the CPM, then the discussion with him will be different. The CPM has historically been anti-Muslim. Ideological debate aside, this is about a political history, about what the CPM did in West Bengal and Kerala. In West Bengal, they did not give reservation to Muslims, kept them in poverty, all backward Muslims were counted in the general category. Only after 2010 some effort has been made to put some marginalised Muslims into backward categories. This is just a political understanding. These people have been against reservations. I have studied in IIT Bombay myself. Before the Mandal Commission was implemented, there used to be five or six Muslims in a class of 600. After the implementation of the Mandal Commission, the number increased to 15, a threefold increase. The Mandal Commission alone made such a big difference. The left parties were against that also, if you remember. Neither left nor congress, both parties have never been with you at any juncture in a history spanning 70 years. We have to remember that. Some individuals from these parties can be good people, they can sympathize with us, but as an organized force, they have always blocked our path, they have never let us move forward. This is the political history. Ideological debates are different. Their dialectical materialism is old and worthy of being kept in a museum. Their understanding is so ancient that they can’t even talk with us. We will talk about that too later on, right now we have more urgent issues to deal with, like identifying our allies and enemies.
Terms of support
Now, there is one more thing that we will try in Delhi. Look, we are scholars. As scholars, we can at least get one non-Muslim with us. That’s the responsibility of the scholars in Delhi. We make a team of 500 Muslim scholars in Delhi and make sure that 500 Hindus will come to their support when there is an urgent requirement. We have spent our lives there, we have at least worked enough to do this much. Our attempt should be to get 500 Muslims and 500 non-Muslims to the street on our own terms, for our cause. All of us can get one Hindu on our terms, right? We don’t need anybody else’s help. If all we want is to save ourselves from being tagged communal, and it is not really the tag that matters, what matters is brutality, what matters is being alone and getting badly beaten up by the police. I am saying this because this communal tag thing was being talked about a lot in Delhi. In Delhi, our attempt has been to get a crowd together in which non-Muslims chant Nara-e-Takbeer with us and stand there on our terms. If they are not willing to accept our terms, then they are using us and our crowd, which is what they have done for the past 70 years. The time has come when we make clear to non-Muslims that, if they sympathize with us, they should stand with us on our terms. If they can’t do that, they are not our sympathizers.
Kanhaiya Kumar in Bihar/Blockade of Assam
I will give you the example of Bihar. A lot of rallies have happened there. There’s a big rally every day. You can take a look at Kanhaiya’s rally. There were five lakh people in that rally. The problem with that is just this much, I have mentioned this before, if we have five lakh organised people with us, we can permanently cut off the north-east from India, and even if not permanently, we can at least cut it off for a month or so. We can put so much rubble on the tracks that it takes them a month to remove it. It is our responsibility to cut off Assam. They will only listen to us if we cut off Assam and India. You know the condition of Muslims in Assam, CAA has been implemented there, people are being put in detention camps. A massacre is taking place over there, in a few months we will come to know they have killed off all the Bengalis, whether Hindus or Muslims. If we want to help Assam, we will have to shut off the route to Assam for the army, for the supplies that go from here, etc. And we can do it. Because the chicken neck corridor is a Muslim dominant area. What will politicians like Kanhaiya do? They will get people to chant slogans of Inqalab, they will get a few photographs clicked and they will leave. The claps will be of our people, the face will be theirs. Not one productive thing has come out of that till today, not one productive thing, we need to remember this as well. If the masses are angry, then it is the responsibility of politicians, scholars and community leaders to use that anger productively rather than wasting it on photo sessions.
Sensitisation of the masses
I understood one more thing. Sensitisation is not in our control. It is in the control of those who worship at the altar of the Indian nation. Whether that be the left or the congress, all of them are guilty of the same thing. It will come in our control if we make a group of Muslim scholars and within that group we don’t debate whether we are nationalists or not. It is one thing to construct a facade for the outside world because we have to stay shut for some days due to the so-called conditions in India. We don’t have to say certain things on certain platforms because the conditions are not suitable today or tomorrow. But tomorrow doesn’t mean ten years later. I am talking about daily affairs. Those scholars need to be clear about the fact that we are fed up with India’s system and constitution. We can only move forward if we have this clarity. Otherwise we can’t do anything, you guys please think about that. The masses are on the streets and they are willing to listen. In Shaheen Bagh, I used to get on stage and speak against the congress two–three times a day. I didn’t take the names of BJP and RSS even once in 20 days. The people already know about them. They are on the streets because they think BJP has done something new against the Muslims. They don’t even know anything about the CAA. A lot of them don’t know about NRC and CAA. I am talking about people in Delhi. You can imagine what the situation is in Bihar. The masses are not on the streets against CAA/NRC. People have the misunderstanding that the masses are on the streets against CAA or to save the constitution or the country. Let alone the country, if Muslims can save themselves, that would be a big thing, because if they save themselves, they will automatically save the country, and if we can’t save ourselves, then even this country will be destroyed. If Muslims are not able to respond in an organized manner, there will be an unorganized response, and if the Muslims respond in an unorganized manner, then the country will not survive, we all know this very well. If Muslims organize themselves, they will be able to save the country, we have that much ability. The masses are on the streets in fourth gear, so we also have to get into fourth gear. More than sensitization on campuses, we have to focus on the sensitization of the masses. If we are talking about NRC or CAA, then we can use the occasion to tell them about the entire history of citizenship in India, about the enemy property act, how people were sent back, how people were killed, about the Nellie Massacre, we should tell them the entire history. No one else is going to tell the masses. The people who did the Nellie massacre obviously won’t tell people about it. People like Indira Gandhi won’t tell you about the Nellie Massacre. We will have to tell them about it. The masses are willing to listen. I noticed it in Shaheen Bagh, when I spoke against the congress and Gandhi, they listened. They used to ask me for the details. This wouldn’t even have been possible two years ago. I would have been taken off the stage very quickly. Even at Shaheen Bagh, there were many attempts to pull me off the stage, but I used to get back up, I had things to say and I was going to say them. The conditions are such that if you say these things, people will come to you because they know they have been betrayed by everybody. They have finally realized that not one party has helped them. This is not the story of CAA, this is the story of a long betrayal. Some say six months, some say six years, some say sixty years. It is definitely not just about CAA. This is what I have understood after living for a month on the streets. The anger is not about CAA, it is about asking how much longer the betrayals of the last 70 years will continue. This is an opportunity for us. With the arrival of the internet, if their oppression has increased, then so has our reaction. Earlier, this couldn’t have happened. Earlier, permission was needed to print anything. Now, they have to take permission to remove things from the internet. Conditions have changed vastly. One thing is that we can use CAA to tell the story of citizenship since 1951. Secondly, we can talk about police brutality, army brutality, whether in Kashmir, in Jamia, in Aligarh, and use the occasion to tell the masses the entire history of the PAC (Provincial Armed Constabulary). We can use CAA to talk about citizenship. And we can use police brutality to talk about state sponsored violence for the last 70 years. We can start from Jammu or Hashimpura or Muradabad or Nellie, there are thousands of starting points, you all know about them, Aligarh itself has been one of the most riot prone districts in India, the number of riots that have happened here haven’t happened anywhere, urban or rural. This is an opportunity for us to draft pamphlets, make videos and reach the homes of people. If 1000 students from Aligarh and 1000 students from Jamia form a group together, they can reach every household in India. Students have the responsibility to educate themselves and then to educate others. We shouldn’t waste our time sitting inside campuses. The same amount of time you take to sensitise 3 people inside the campus can be used to sensitise 3000 people among the masses. If you go to the masses and tell them that you neither want votes nor money, then the masses will listen to you, this I say from experience. You haven’t gone to ask them for anything. You say what you have to say, they might even abuse you and tell you to go away but if you go back there, they will again come and listen to you. Unless they have some vested interest in the Indian system, there are lots of people like that as well. You have to stay away from the people with vested interests. And not just stay away, you have to talk to them harshly.
Identifying the enemy—nationalists of all stripes
The ones who speak the language of nationalism are our enemies. That is clear. I don’t know how people are not able to understand that. They force us to worship at the altar of a state that shouldn’t even exist the way it does. This state has been forced upon us and it is our responsibility to break its back. Even if it takes a long time to do so, the starting point is to understand that we are trapped in this state. We aren’t trapped in one five year election cycle, we are trapped by the system itself that was put in place in 1950, no matter who runs it. I will give you one more example to clarify what I am saying. Let’s take a look at the judiciary, executive and legislature. During the British raj, there were high courts in India while the Supreme Court was in London. Executive was here, the government of India. The legislature was in London. Judiciary and executive were both less partial before independence than after independence. We should know that. Muslims never gained independence. An enemy community was forced upon the Muslims. This is an important point and if we can’t understand that, we can’t do anything. Both executive and judiciary have been our enemies since 1950. The English were lesser enemies of Muslims. I am talking about the last 50 years of British rule. I am not talking about the British since 1757. From 1757 to 1857, it was the East India Company. Government of India was made after 1858. That’s when it started directly reporting to the Queen and to the British parliament. These are the last 100 years. Even within that, I am talking about the time period after 1890, when industrialisation had set in completely and India had become a market for them. The last 60–70 years of British rule. After World War 1, their difficulties increased further and they had to give local capitalists some leeway as well to set up factories, etc. Tata was given an iron factory. In western India, several textile mills opened. After World War 1, the English were not powerful enough to use ships to carry people, arms and products. You can see these breaks in history. The last fifty years, from 1905 to 1947, you can see that the British government is impartial towards Muslims compared to what comes after and what had happened before. What comes after 1950s has been clearly more colonial than the last fifty years of colonial rule. We should say this without any hesitation. We haven’t got independence. We have been put in a new and more severe slavery. Some people are not affected by it, like some big landowners and big businessman, people who were rich then and are rich now. They can take Canadian citizenship if they so wish. People who have money can take themselves and their families away from this when they need to. But for the common Muslims, across communities, the period after 1950 has been more troublesome from the point of view of communalism. We shouldn’t talk about independence like we do. If scholars speak clearly about all this, the masses will follow us or they will kill us, both outcomes are preferable to remaining silent. In my view, the plan moving forward should be to create our own intellectual cell which has no sympathy for Gandhi, nation, etc. We should be clear that these are our enemies. We should know that the biggest fascist leader of the 20th century is Gandhi himself. Who brought this communal government, who brought ram rajya, who made the congress into a Hindu party, Gandhi did.
Moderate nationalism and extremist nationalism
Moderate nationalism and extremist nationalism are misnomers but we need to unpack them nonetheless. Who were the moderates? Jinnah, Gokhale, etc. were moderate nationalists. What did they say? They said that only 3–4% of the English are educated, which is the same case with Indians. Further, Indians know the English language better than the British, so Indians should be allowed into the British parliament. This was their nationalism, what is called moderate nationalism. Dadabhai Naoroji fought elections in Britain, even got elected. He used to demand equal rights for the whites and the Indians. He wasn’t against the system because it was running from London, he was against the system because it was discriminatory. This was moderate nationalism. What is extremist nationalism? This is our land, this is India and the whites are our enemies. And if you want to see the picture more clearly, imagine some people who have arrived with dholaks chanting slogans of Jai Shri Ram and Gaumata ki Jai (Long live mother cow). This is Gandhi’s nationalism. It is vastly different from moderate nationalism. Extremist nationalism is Hindu nationalism. The foundation for Hindu nationalism was laid in 1890 itself but it bore fruit with the arrival of Gandhi on the scene.
Now, another thing is history writing. Our history has been written entirely by pandits. And some Muslims who think the same way as pandits. Even somebody like Irfan Habib is like that. He has worked on medieval history but he finds it necessary to interfere in modern history as well. Nation, nationalism, Tipu Sultan, etc. If your expertise is in medieval history, stick to that. Why do you have to talk of stuff you probably don’t even know about? Maybe to gain some political traction or get favours from the Congress when they were in power. It can never become acceptable for scholars like him to support the nation of India. It is clearly a fascist project, the biggest in history, and you are calling it good things. I will repeat, our history has been written by pandits and the time has come when we write our own history. It takes a lot of hard work to write history, you can’t just do it superficially. You have to research and write about the same thing ten times over for it to become a respectable thesis that can be accepted. Take the example of the 1937 elections or the 1946 elections. None of us remember the results. We don’t even know how many males voted, how many females voted, what party got how much of the vote share. We are told that in 1946 Muslims voted for the Muslim league and the illusion is thus born that before that the Muslims voted for the congress. But the truth is that even in 1937 the Muslims did not vote for the congress. If you know anything about the elections, you must know that regional parties got votes everywhere. In Bengal, there was the peasant party, called Krishak Praja Party. Muslim Independent Party in Bihar. Muslim Nationalist Party in UP. The Unionist Party in Punjab which was the party of landowners. Ittehad party in Sindh. Congress only got votes in North West Frontier Province because of the Khudai Kihidmatgars. Muslim League got votes only in two provinces in 1937, Bombay and Madras presidency. Bombay was Jinnah’s home ground. And in madras as well he had some influence. In 1946 the other parties merged. These are small things but no one knows about them. Muslims never voted for the Congress. Then why do we say today that the Congress is secular? We never voted for congress unless partition happened and even then we only voted for them because we were forced to. We were forced to because the politicians from the Muslim League also went to the Congress. They didn’t want to go to Pakistan. They were sitting idle, didn’t have any work, so they went to the Congress. That’s where the lines between friend and foe started getting muddled.
Deobandi vs. Barelvi
You must have heard about the role of the Deobandi Ulema in the independence movement. They played a big part before 1890. Then, the Ulema and the British fought each other tooth and nail. The British sent them to jail, tortured them, gunned them down, etc. Now I am telling you something from my own research. After 1890, that same ulema was begging the British to save them from the Hindu vigilantes who were attacking Muslims everywhere. Look at the difference that fifty years made. The same ulema which was fighting the British earlier was now asking them for help. The people who counted the British as their biggest enemies understood within a space of 30-40 years who their actual enemies were. Muslims were being attacked everywhere, you can see it in newspaper reports. Garhmukteshwar used to host a fair. In 1946, hundreds of Muslims were killed there. But in 1928 as well, some 100–150 Muslim shops were burnt while four–five Muslims were killed in the fair and some were killed in the neighbouring areas. There is an editorial about it in Al Jamiat. It says that Muslims have been told again and again not to go to Hindu fairs and to keep Hindus away from Muslim fairs. That party which is asking for joint electorates is not even being able to pull off a joint fair. That was how bad the conditions were in 1928, they couldn’t even hold a fair together for fear that people would be killed. Deobandi Ulema’s role in the national struggle has been greatly exaggerated by the congress. It is true that a large chunk went to them during Khilafat. It is astonishing that in the history that has been written in India, the role of the Barelvi Ulema is never talked about, except for mentioning that they are agents of the British. In one sentence, they do away with the Barelvi Ulema. Why? Because the Barelvis were against the Congress. They were always against the Congress, and they remained so till independence. They were not against Muslims. They did a lot for the community, they also held demonstrations, staged protests, distributed pamphlets, went to police stations and hospitals. When Muslims were attacked in 1946, they went door to door helping people. They were also doing what other movements and parties were doing. But because they are against the Congress, they are being told that they are British agents.
Take the issue of cow protection. It has been going on violently since 1890. The big attacks started from near Azamgarh. It was an urban phenomena in Punjab and it became rural in UP and Bihar. We need to hold a map in our heads which indicates how much rural population is of Mulsims in which areas. Muslims are primarily urban. Take the example of UP, Muslims are more than 30% of the urban population, while overall they are only 18%. Even from the area that I come from in Bihar, 7% of the rural population is Muslim while 25% of the urban population is Muslim. Muslims are mostly urban but in some places they are also rural. Punjab had a large Muslim rural population but that was partitioned. In western UP and in some areas of Kerala, Bengal and Assam there is a large Muslim rural population. In no other places are Muslims rural. Wherever there is a large rural population of Muslims, they won’t be able to do cow protection very well, I am talking about pre-independence times. The world changed after independence but before independence they weren’t able to attack Muslims in areas where they were largely rural. For example, Muzaffarnagar where Muslims were 50% and both urban and rural. In those areas, it would have become a fair fight between one group and another. The police at that time was neutral. The British used to decide whether they wanted to kill Hindus or Muslims based on international affairs, they didn’t care about the local struggles of these two communities. Before independence, attacks on Muslims only happened in those places where they were badly outnumbered. Wherever Muslims were even 40% in number, there the Hindus did not have the courage to attack them. Even today, they don’t have such courage. That is without state support. That is why the PAC was made. Why is the PAC’s role so important in western UP? Because Muslims have a rural presence there. That is why they needed something like the PAC. If Muslims did not have a large rural presence, they wouldn’t have made the PAC, they would have got the job done by a mob. Where mobs would not be effective, there Congress made an institution to kill Muslims. Where I come from in Bihar, a mob is all that is needed. One village out of ten is Muslim so they find it easy to attack us. And they have attacked us in 1946 and they will attack us whenever they want. But they can’t kill Muslims in Meerut, not that easily anyway, they will need a much larger mobilization there, it will be like a civil war. We must remember that cow protection may have started in cities but its dangerous side was first seen in the rural areas of eastern UP because Muslims don’t have a large rural presence there. After eastern UP, the dangerous side of cow protection was seen in Bihar, in Bhojpur, south Bihar, etc. And it spread like that everywhere. Now let’s talk about the entry of Maulanas in the cow protection movement. That started from the Khilafat Movement. The Maulanas told the Hindus that if they helped in Khilafat, then Muslims would help the Hindus in cow protection. And you can see this compromise by studying the fatwas taken out in that period, there are a lot of them. I will give you an example of a typical fatwa. They will ask a question like, ‘is it a duty to sacrifice a cow during Bakr Eid?’ The answer is obvious, no it is not a duty. You can sacrifice any animal. But when Muhammad Raza Khan was asked the same question, he said that the question being asked was wrong. The real question, he said, was whether we can sacrifice a cow under the pressure of Hindus and the answer is that no we cannot. He told the other Maulanas to stop twisting the questions and befuddling the real issues. Agreed that it is not a duty to sacrifice a cow but it is also not a duty to not sacrifice a cow under pressure of an enemy community. That is why he is called a British agent. I don’t agree with everything he says but I agree with his attitude towards cow protection. He didn’t ask us to compromise like some others, I don’t need to name everybody but you know who they were, Maulana Azad, Khwaja Hasan Nizami and others. These people fully supported cow protection. And that support has turned into poison for us today. I don’t know what they thought and what their intentions were, but we need to point out the mistakes they made. One more interesting thing. In the fatwa of Muhammad Raza Khan, apropos this issue of cow protection, he says that a human is bored of any food he eats for a week and starts hating it if forced to eat it after a week, but beef is something that a human can eat for a lifetime and never get bored. It was the diet of the working class which was attacked. They entered our homes in 1890. It’s too late now. 130 years have passed since then. They entered our homes then and who got them into our homes, people like Gandhi. And they were helped by some of our own Maulanas. It is necessary for us to understand this. This is why Barelvis don’t exist in Indian history writing. They are remembered very briefly as agents of the British. While the truth is that their behaviour has been very rigorous in these matters.
Now let’s talk about Khilafat. We know that for Sunnis Khilafat ends with Hazrat Ali. For Shias, there is no Khilafat as they accept Hazrat Ali as the Imam. When there is no Khilafat for both Shias and Sunnis, why was the movement named Khilafat? This is an important Islamic question. Was Turkey’s Osmania our Khalifa? No he wasn’t. He was the king of some place and a colonial power was attacking them, so we had to support him, where was the question of religion in all this? Why was this made an Islamic issue? To make it Islamic was a complete lie. The killing of Tipu Sultan and an Ottoman Sultan is equal. So, even there we were betrayed as they made it a matter of religion, of Muslims supporting a Muslim king while the issue was actually of one colonized populace supporting another colonized populace. Maybe we can’t question the intentions of those who allowed this to happen but it is our responsibility to point out their mistakes. Even in this you will see the Deobandi-Barelvi-Shia triangle. Some Deobandis are calling it Khilafat movement. The Shias didn’t get involved at all. While the Barelvis maintained that the war was of Turkey’s Osmanis and they should be helped because they are being oppressed by a colonial power. This is the entire matter of the Khilafat movement. I have been talking about this for so long so that we understand that our history has not been written. It will take us fifty more years to write our history. And that too will happen only if we understand today that we have to write our history. If we don’t understand that we have to write our history, then it will never be written. And 500 years later, what Gandhi’s sycophants have written will be accepted as the truth. That will be our failure, especially of the scholars who claim to read and write, whose job it is to read books, newspapers, clarify concepts, etc. I was disillusioned with history writing a long time back. Four–five years ago I understood that these books are not only useless but also poisonous. In our childhood, they mould our brains to accept a one-sided view of things.
Namaz vs. puja
Even in Jamia, such a big fight happened over la ilaha illallah. People came to blows over the fact that people wanted to offer namaz on the roads. Why? Because some Hindus would feel hurt. They said, look, Hindus are not doing pujas on the roads. It’s a Muslim university and you can’t even offer namaz there. Further, what Hindu does puja five times a day? Namaz is a part of our daily schedule, it is highly inconvenient and a waste of time to go far distances to offer the namaz. So we offer the namaz wherever we are standing. This is part of our discipline. Hindus don’t need to do puja five times a day. Namaz is a matter of the masses for us. For the Hindus, puja is a matter for the pandits, he can do a puja in their stead, while all of us have to offer namaz ourselves. Namaz and puja are not comparable. Namaz is a matter of our daily schedule. We will offer namaz wherever we are standing. Why will go five kilometres away five times a day. Where we stand, that’s where the masjid is. This is the traditional way. But there was a scuffle in Jamia over this. When the fight erupted, we also got a call asking us to come there. But by the time we reached, the fight was already over. Namaz had already happened and now everyone was debating about it. One AISA member came and said we are spreading communalism.
JCC (Jamia Coordination Committee)
Now this JCC that they have made, I have returned from their doors twice. This JCC that they have made, they say they are very inclusive, they say there is everyone in their group except those who chant Allahu Akbar. That’s their inclusive nature. Except for Allahu Akbar, which is a group there with some four–five hundred students, everyone is included in their JCC. What kind of inclusivity is that? It would have been inclusive if they had included the Allahu Akbar group. They hate the Allahu Akbar group and call themselves inclusive. The first day on Sunday when my mike was broken in the scuffle with Amanatullah, students from the Allahu Akbar group were the ones who came running with another mike. Jamia has made zero contribution except these students who have worked on the streets. These students are going door to door distributing pamphlets. But as a University, Jamia has made zero contribution. We have been seeing them for the last one month. The same goes for JNU. You must have heard about the fee hike protests. We have been telling them for the last two months to get out of campus and on to the streets but they are not ready to move. Similarly about protests in Jamia. They have been going on for a month now. What do they do? They stand on their own road with few pamphlets and posters. For the last month, that’s all they have done. Can you imagine how much energy they have wasted in this? And who are they showing the posters to? The same people who go from there every day. Those people have been seeing them for a month, what’s the use of this? There is something called marginal utility. It was okay for two days, three days, four days, but what are they achieving from it now? They are achieving nothing. The University has 17,000 students. If even five thousand of them spread out on the streets of Delhi, they can shut Delhi down. Every scholar who says he doesn’t want votes and money will have at least fifty people behind him, that’s how the conditions are and we have felt that ourselves. I go into any alleyway of Delhi and start talking to a shopkeeper, I tell him I am a Muslim student in JNU, slowly thirty people will gather around me to talk to me and listen to what I have to say.
The responsibility of scholars
If you are a scholar, your responsibility is to be on the streets, not stay confined to the campus. If you are educated, it is your responsibility to educate the masses. I am not very fond of the behaviour of Jamia’s students. They don’t have a plan. They don’t even have a plan for sensitization, let alone other things. You don’t need much courage to protest inside the university. Courage is required to take the protest outside the campus. I keep trying to talk to the Jamia students, and some people have listened to me and gone out. The protest should be done in a manner in which all of us are able to use our energies and our skills to the fullest. We are scholars, we are young, we have energy. we can run, we can take a few blows of the lathi, we can take tear gas, you guys have done so much yourselves, a civil war happened here. We can write pamphlets, we can speak, we can make videos, we can edit videos, we can go door to door and argue with people, we can do all these things. A common man can’t do all this. A common man doesn’t even know what to say. We can argue. It is our job to get on the streets and argue with people and sensitize people. Our second job is to make a plan of action. The plan of action is not going to be the same for the whole of India. Every neighbourhood needs its own plan of action. For example, a highway runs next to Shaheen Bagh. It was possible to convince the crowd to just keep sitting there and block the highway. In Delhi, over the last month, we have gathered a team of about 300 scholars from different fields who are ready and willing to take forward the plan of action we are discussing right now. It is your responsibility also that you join us. There can be many ideas, many strategies, but we need to have consensus about the fact that we have gathered to change the system. It is not a fight about Congress and BJP. It is not any party’s fight. This is a fight of oppressed minorities against the state and the system. We have to make an intellectual cell and I request you all to join that as well. Everyone should do whatever they can, based on their abilities. Someone can make a poster, someone is a graphic designer, everyone has different abilities. That’s one thing. Secondly, we have to reach the common people everywhere in India. From Aligarh, all of western UP can be covered. From Delhi, we can cover the areas near Delhi, like Muzaffarnagar. Students from Delhi and Aligarh can cover all the areas between Delhi and Aligarh. We have enough young people to cover the whole way from Delhi to Aligarh. We have to make a separate strategy for every locality regarding the most effective mode of protest to pressurize the state. For example, we blocked one highway in Delhi. There are four major roadways that connect Delhi to UP, we have blocked one of them, which has increased the load on the other three. If we block one more they will be badly affected. Especially if DND is blocked someday, they will be brought to their knees. DND is in no man’s land, nobody is there. What can we do? One morning, five hundred of us have to go, sit there and wait for the police. We have to reach at the peak time, like 8 or 9 in the morning, so that even the police is not able to come there. Till the evening, no one will be able to reach us. By the time they reach us, we will disperse and Delhi will remain shut for two days. We have to use our brains like this and strategize locally. We have enough people to shut down the whole of India. This is where I want to end, thank you very much for listening.