One month into the Jamia encounter: confusion all-around

On September 13, Delhi was rocked once again by serial blasts. Besides the usual suspects, fingers were also raised on the Home Ministry’s consistent failures and for trivial issues like Mr Shivraj Patil changing his safari suits many times in the day. But Mr. Patil proved that he also works during breaks that he manages from changing his crisp white suits, briefing media, and tackling oppositions. Result: within a week, the alleged ‘mastermind’ of the Delhi and previous blasts and two of his associates were shot down in an encounter in the Batla House area of South Delhi. One ‘militant’ was held from the spot, while three others were latter arrested. Two cops also sacrificed their lives in the cross-firing. Of the three arrested, two were students of Jamia Millia Islamia. Police claims that one of the two deceased was also a student of the University, but the Jamia administration denies this.

The University was thus in the thick of the news, and for all wrong reasons. Print and electronic media suddenly thronged the campus and its vicinity to grab some spicy bites. The Jamia became a soccer ground where national politicians, local netas, cops and most importantly the media were freely kicking the ball, whistling as referees, with their bits of head-butts and slang. Whatever the truth is, the crux of the matter is that media reportage made it appear as though the Jamia has become a breeding ground for the new generation of Islamic terrorists. The Jamia fraternity vehemently resented to what they called an apparent biasness in the mainstream media. The campus is scattered with banners reading ‘Jamia stands for peace, non-violence, and secularism’.

Intellectuals and activists have come out in open support. A meeting organized by the Jamia Teachers’ solidarity Group on October 12 was attended by Harsh Mander, Arundhati Roy, Tanika Sarkar, Tripta Wahi, Swami Agnivesh, John Dayal and others. They have demanded an independent Judicial enquiry by a sitting Judge of the apex Court. “Our doubts remain. Our questions unanswered. Only a time-bound, independent inquiry under the sitting judge of the Supreme Court can bring out the truth,” said Manisha Sethi of the Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Group.

No one is denying the ‘alleged’ involvement of students, but like one good family, they vow to stand with them and extend all possible support for ‘fair trail’ until proven guilty. One month has passed, and the Gandhigiri style ‘silent protests’ by the Jamia students, teachers and its staffs, the general public outcry and the support that the ‘resented voice’ finally got seem to have bore some fruits, with a section of the Government now demanding that the Prime Minister should release a statement and favoring an independent enquiry.

In all this turmoil, the truth seems to have been forgotten. The angst among people seems only because administration has not really tried talking to them directly and whatever they have come to know is through contradictory statements by the Police. Says Badar, a resident of the Batla House, “All he wants is to know the truth.”


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