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Why this silence when freedoms are taken away
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Disha Ravi,  Umar Khalid,  Najeeb Ahmed

The political climate is turning murkier, more than suffocating, stifling and killing! Where, even free speech and free-–flowing criticism and the voice of dissent are getting curtailed. What sort of governance is this, where cases get slapped on anyone who dares to voice an opinion or cries out in anger and anguish! Activist Disha Ravi's arrest brings to the fore haunting memories of the blatant hounding of the young, the entire winter- spring stretch of 2020, when students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Aligarh Muslim University faced police atrocities. Why? Because they cried out against the CAA and also against the handling of the communal rioting and killings that shook North East Delhi. The State targeted and attacked unarmed students and scholars as though they were terrorists! Cops were seen not just thrashing and beating and kicking students, but even hitting several students on their private parts, in full public view! One cannot overlook the fact that in these recent years the State machinery had been rather too steadily intruding into the University campus. The so called 'happenings' on the campus of the Hyderabad Central University, Delhi University, Allahabad University, Benaras Hindu University and Jadavpur University were pointers to the fact that the State machinery was used to sabotage and throttle any of those rebellious cries. In fact, in the spring of 2016, when chaos erupted on the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus with several students leaders targeted, Umar Khalid's name had also came up.

The very first day we heard the then Home Minister of India, Rajnath Singh, come up with a bunch of theories along the strain that Umar Khalid had been travelling to Pakistan as part of terror striking activities. The next day, when it emerged that Umar Khalid couldn't have travelled to Pakistan as he did not possess a passport, there came in no apology from the establishment but yet another bizarre twist to that tale. A new destination was fitted to that tale — Leftist Umar Khalid travelled to Nagpur as a courier boy for the Naxals! Mind you, if it had emerged that Khalid was a practising Musalmaan, then his name could have been linked to SIMI or Al -Qaeda or even the ISIS! And through the summer and autumn of 2017, anarchy was witnessed on the campus of the Benaras Hindu University. Not very different from what took place at Ramjas College campus of the Delhi University. Yes, students were hounded for speaking out against the political mafia. Protesting voices were throttled. Academic mahaul wrecked if not destroyed. Sheer muscle power prevailed. Goons had entered right into the university campus. Nay, they are not touched.

And last spring (February 2019), it got obvious that Right-Wing factions wanted to create 'mischief' on the campus of the Aligarh Muslim University. Having failed in their earlier demands to open an RSS shakha and also a mandir on the university campus, they choose another alibi. On grounds of the alleged misbehaviour with the staff of a Godi television channel on the university campus, 14 students of this university were booked on sedition charges! Later those sedition charges were dropped but only after much damage was inflicted. The University students I have been meeting and interacting with, told me that many were detained for questioning, even on grounds of mere suspicion. Once their names are entered in the police registers and records, there starts off their journey to hell! Each time a crime is committed in the area or even in the adjoining area, they are the first to be called for questioning. They were cautious; they did not try to pick up arguments with any of the Hindutva characters. Why? "Because it gets easy for the police to throw anti- national charges together with a 'terror angle'!" They pointed out that for the cops there could a hundred definitions of terror and terrorism and terrorists! They also focused on the 'disappearance' of the JNU student, Najeeb Ahmad, who has been 'missing' for the past several months, after he had heated arguments with the Right-Wing students on the University campus. Is free speech or thought or even dissent to be controlled by Right-Wing dictates? Why is this trend accelerating from 2014, ever-since the BJP came centre stage? Have the planners and police-wallahs pondered on the repercussions of throttling the voice of the young and also of the not-so-young? Are we becoming so weak that non-Hindutva opinions or comments or views will not be tolerated and will get crushed at any damn cost? Tell me, where do I go and express my disgust or anger or a combination of the two! These last few years have been very traumatic to say the least. And what lies ahead could pave way for more traumas, with detentions and arrests seemingly an ongoing trend. Only two options holding out. Either sit all too subdued in a corner, viewing the Godi media news! Or else get all too ready to face the aftermath that comes along the way, in case one tries to dissent. The choice is simply yours!

Much after the Valentine's Day has passed

This verse of Ghalib, from Hasan Abdullah's volume 'The Evolution of Ghalib' (Rupa): "The affairs of nightingale make flowers go on chuckling/ hat what people perceive as love is but quirks of mind.' 'From bonds of love I freed myself a hundred times/ But I am helpless, my heart itself is foe of freedom,' 'Now it is me and my craving for gloom and melancholy, Ghalib/ Feeling warm greeting of worldly people heart got burnt to ashes."

And writer Gabriel García Márquez's hitting sentence for all those who believe in love, beyond the Valentine's Day: "Sex is the consolation you have when you can't have love."

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TAGS:Freedom denial dissent not anti-national Umar Khalid anti-CAA protesters 
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