“Kejriwal slept with echoes of our cries,” students recall the night of torture

Students camping outside Delhi CM Kerjriwal’s residence. Photo: Shaheen Abdulla

Nada Nasrin

The aftereffects of pogroms and genocides are not just physical loses and economic drains, a huge part of what remains is the mental traumas we eventually reach into. The next day after the protest outside Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence demanding an immediate intervention over the anti-Muslim violence in Delhi, when we gathered to narrate our experiences of the night, the stories each one of us have to tell were entirely different from each other, because the police scattered us into several corners and then chased us.

The stories Anees Rahman has to say are not similar to that of Razeem, and when Safeeda narrates, they are new to Nida, because we were all alone and scattered.

“When I was asked by a physician to get stitched the forehead”, tells Anees Rahman who is a law student at Delhi University, “I denied because I was not aware that my head was bleeding. All about the day of protest that I recollect is the police beginning to charge on us, the rest seems all blurred and soundless. When I tried to shield the girls among us, they dragged me, saying they would provide me with more ‘Azadi’. The vague memory I have is of more than 5 policemen beating me in the road, surrounded. On getting into the police bus I texted somebody, informing that I was detained. But today I have to check my WhatsApp history to confirm to whom I even texted. We were badly beaten up in the police bus, but I remember none. My injuries were the only evidence to realize the brutalities I gave gone through because the very first hit I have got on my head had itself turned me subconscious. Therefore I didn’t try to run or resist while they were hitting me hard. On reaching the police station, I was not even able to recollect my own address, nor able to even identify my friends”.

Even after all the troubles gone through, Shafeef, a research student in sociology at Delhi University smiles at them because they were not even a spec of what our brothers have gone through the past few days in the North-East parts of Delhi.

He says, “Initially when I was detained I was with the hope that my identity as a student will safeguard from any form of violence. However, that conviction got evaporated with the first blow I received near the oblongata area. The realization that the police wants to really hurt us sent chills down my spine. Further what I experienced physical violence that I have never experienced my life. What made that violence more terrorizing was the language that was used while beating us up. Racist slurs like ‘Mullah‘ blurred the distinction between those police personnel and Hindutva rioters. Such violent expressions and periodic physical violence for no justifiable reasons after detainment put us in a liminal state psychologically where you move between being ‘vaguely safe’ to ‘certainly vulnerable’ “.

Mahroof who is also a law student at Delhi University was taken with 2 others into a police bus and beaten up continuously till reaching the police station by policemen.

Students protesting outside CM residence before being detained. Photo: Shaheen Abdulla

“We were kept standing in the station till 8:30. Later they took us to a hospital but didn’t let us leave the bus till 12:30. Then they let us consulted as we were severely beaten up and had many injuries, and the final medical report was given as ‘no injuries and casualties reported,” Mahroof says.

Even when voicing for the Muslim lives being tortured in the city, what me and my friend Nida Parveen, a student of BA Sociology at Delhi University faced from the Chief Minister’s residence was no different from saffronized bureaucrats, because from all the four girls who rose there questioning, only we were beaten up brutally and taken, being the only Muslims and very explicit with a ‘hijab’.

Water cannons were used on students by Delhi police to disperse the protest. Photo: Shaheen Abdulla

We literally found very less difference in the troubles we faced, on protesting against the AAP chief minister and BJP home minister. We found less difference between a boy and a girl being treated by the police at midnight. When we were labeled ‘Pakistani spies’ from the police vehicle, we found less difference between the police and the sanghi goons. When at midnight, girls were being beaten and detained, separately alone into a vehicle, backed with sticks and ropes, and an arrogant driver staring at your helplessness, we found less difference between those ‘for the law’ and ‘against the law’. Remembering that night of protest only reminds us moments of trauma and insecurities of being not just a Muslim but a girl too.

Despite all the peaceful approaches the protesters made, the police without any specific provocations discharged heavy water cannons on the protesters during the midnight and charged on us. Several were brutally beaten up and detained. The scary part is that police chased protesters for almost 2 km and captured whoever they found on the way. All those gathered outside of the Delhi CM’s residence to protest against his ‘inaction’, were very aware of the number of people assembled there is very less and therefore very vulnerable, but news that came from the other part of Delhi, filled with only hopelessness, made none bother it. That night when we assembled outside of the CM’s residence at 11:30 pm and protested till 4:00 am in the morning till we were charged by the police, we came to see the violence that was backed by a government that showed no obligations to its minorities.

Nada Nasrin is a student of English literature at Ramjas College, University of Delhi

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