SIO JNU supports and stands with the ongoing protest programs #JusticeForNajeeb in our campus demanding immediate getting back of Najeeb Ahmed and punishment of ABVP culprits. Despite being the fact that it has been six days since Najeeb was missing from the campus after assaults from the hands of ABVP goons, it raises some serious questions regarding the administration’s response and the mode of protest towards this grave matter of concern. First of all, the administration had issued a press release labeling Najeeb as “accused”, based on no proof but a mere allegation. The administration hasn’t yet filed an FIR in this regard from their side. While analyzing the united protest in the campus premises, we can see the main drawback is that it deliberately tries to avoid the fact that Najeeb is a Muslim student, without taking concerns that ABVP themselves have written slogans in the hostel, terming Muslims as terrorists and as supporters of Pakistan. Although it is true that Najeeb is a student of the university, the whole protest is going on without revealing or stressing his identity as a Muslim. The main argument and fear lying behind this approach is that the issue might get communalised.
In this regard, it is needed to differentiate between a Muslim issue and a communal issue. Although it is very clear that Najeeb was targeted because of his identity, the ‘secular’ logic still continues to argue that once we talk about religious identity, it is always communal. This basic drawback in the mainstream secular understanding of religious identity, especially a minority identity can be very much seen in the movement #JusticeForNajeeb. Once you are not categorically stating that it is a Muslim issue, in essence it not only doesn’t touch the base of the issue, but you are falling in the same trap of perpetrators. It is not the first time a Muslim student is being attacked in Mahi Mandavi hostel, or JNU, or any other campus or various corners in the country. Even when Najeeb comes back, what are the institutional assurances he can have that he could live a fearless life in the campus? This discrimination in taking actions can be very much seen in the very beginning of this incident itself. Though it was only alleged that a scuffle happened between Najeeb and ABVP members in his room, it still remains as an allegation, and Najeeb is not around to present his side. But, the culprits who have openly attacked Najeeb are roaming free in the campus and no action is yet taken against them. It is also needed to be noted that the hostel administration had earlier decided to evict Najeeb from the hostel, though it was revoked later. So, one can see here the administrative insensitivity and discrimination happening in the beginning itself.
Although it is very clear that Najeeb was targeted because of his identity, the ‘secular’ logic still continues to argue that once we talk about religious identity, it is always communal. This basic drawback in the mainstream secular understanding of religious identity, especially a minority identity can be very much seen in the movement #JusticeForNajeeb.
Anti-Muslim sentiment can be seen working in the core of this nation making, and the violence against Muslims can be seen as a common denominator of Indian social existence. The communal violences in India are organized with a larger aim to justify the caste system by keeping Muslims as an external other. In such a serious juncture, it is not only disheartening but disappointing that the so called ‘progressive’ organizations are still afraid to raise the Muslim issue openly. Also, one has to look at the histories of ‘communal violences’ in India and see that they are nothing but one sided Sangh Fascist onslaught on a particular community. Instead of looking at the global propaganda of ‘war on terror’, and the continuing spectra of partition haunting the Indian Muslims, the progressive movements are still caught up in the mere secular-communal binary.
The major issue here is the lack of understanding the incident from its core, and that itself is the main reason why the movement is getting weaker day by day. Najeeb’s question is largely and clearly a Muslim question, and one has to take it like that only. One can’t see and analyse the issue within the limited binary of secularism Vs communalism. At the same time, it is needed to look and accept the weakness of this binary. when Brahminic fascism is targeting the Muslim community, it is needed to categorically state that first, and then only go for the appropriate protestive measures.
Habeel MM – President, SIO JNU Afsal Sulaiman – Secretary, SIO JNU