Dear powerful people,
Would you lend me ears? Would an appeal made by a simple girl who is a nobody in your power hierarchies reach you? If it does, will it move you?
Let me talk to you of Safoora Zargar . I know her from my participation in the anti CAA-NPR_NRC protests of Jamia. Though I cannot claim her as a very intimate friend, we have shared a strong bond characteristic of relationships formed by people facing great psychological, emotional and political duress together. We have lead marches together; we have travelled hundreds of miles together to speak at an assembled gathering; we have spent hours discussing, debating, disagreeing the course of the protest; we have stood by each other for our common aim of ensuring more female participation and leadership in the protest. And I know in the hierarchical scheme of things and owing to her experience, connections and leadership, her role has been too large for mine to have ever been compared with.
MY most proud memories of her are of hearing her speak – with no preparation whatsoever – to an enthralled audience, thousands of women, who having spent most of their lives within the confines of their homes, were grateful to find another woman owning her power so audaciously and gracefully in a public space. And how many moments of my witnessing your unflinching loyalty and fierce love and dedication and brilliance come rushing down the memory lane!
An MPhil student, she is as fierce as you would expect of a woman who is conscious of the myriad machineries of discrimination and violence that patriarchy and Islamophobia have woven into our lives, and is as tender as you may expect of a woman gifted with deep sensitivity and profound love.
When Meeran Haider was put in in jail, I didn’t know what to do, since I didn’t know him personally. But that Safoora is innocent is as clear as daylight to me. If you truly have evidence against any of us, why are you, like cowards, choosing the vulnerabilities of this time to charge at us?
Have our Govt and investigative agencies stooped so low as to consider the lockdown period owing to a global pandemic as the advantageous time to witch-hunt its students? Why do you think of us as your enemies? What is it about our education, our questioning and peaceful dissent that makes us so dangerous to you? What kind of a country are you building upon the carcasses of its voices of dissent ?Why are you using this time when we neither have access to legal aid and media nor can mobilise people to make us heard? Why do you see us as threats? What of us is so threatening to you?
Do you really think that by stifling each of our voices you will be able to get away with anything? Do you think we planned to rise against you – we who have had to labour much to earn our seats in a good university and have our careers and future to think about? Do you realise that some of us have no political ambition whatsoever and have been sacrificing our studies and finances and God knows what not, because we genuinely, truly are convinced that the discriminatory laws you intend to bring in will shake the foundations of this country? If we are wrong, why don’t you engage in discussions with us? Why do you seek to send your armed men to beat us, jail us, torture us? Would you be content with our annihilation? Is that what you seek? Because thanks to the modern education we have had the privilege to enjoy, none of us would ever be able to close our eyes to the truth. And some of us are quite incapable of silently acquiescing to the wrong.
My heart breaks to know that she is in jail. My heart breaks while speaking to other friends who tell me that they are waiting for the knock at the door that would carry them too into the dark dungeons upon which this nation’s ‘normalcy would be built. My heart is ashamed to admit I too encounter such fears trespassing the serenities of my solitude. My heart breaks thinking that this is how you reward the women and the youth of this country for daring to step out of your Lakshmanrekhas.
There’s something seriously wrong in our world if we are okay with this. If we are okay with students being witch-hunted and thrown into jails for daring to speak against the Government in a democracy.
If any of you who are reading this feel moved, please know that mobilisation is not the only way you can support us. You can support us in a hundred ways via online platforms – the hows of which you would be better acquainted with. And we need your support more than ever before.
Please do not let our country degrade to this. Please.
And, I assure you even if you end up annihilating each of us, whenever you intend to mess with this nation’s democratic, spiritual and secular values, new voices would emerge. We were not special. Such Voices you would least expect would shed their veils of burdensome modesty to let free the caged silences of many decades and centuries. You wouldn’t have room enough, Sir, in your dungeons to bury us. And if the people fail us, I feel this land would still support us. A day would come, Sir, when this land, its winds, its rains, its rivers and its trees too would rebel against that which kills Her soul.
M.A.(English) JAMIA MILLIA ISLAMIA University