“Clearly RSS doesn’t entertain dissent. And we, the student activists never allow RSS diktats,” says MS Sajid, a Ph.D. scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University, who was booked by the Delhi Police for allegedly slandering the Indian Army and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in his ‘anti-national’ tweet.
Sajid’s tweet reads: “Indian Military execute systematic genocide of Kashmiris which is devised by RSS. The BJP government should stop their territorial greed and ready to accept Kashmiris’ right to self-determination guaranteed by the UN. Its high time to intervene in the issue by international bodies.”
The Delhi Police has registered an FIR on the 8 of July accusing Sajid of offenses such as ‘provoking breach of peace’ and ‘provoking with an intent to cause riot’.
The FIR is registered on the complaint of a local BJP leader in Delhi, Tajinder Yadav. Yadav is the general secretary of Mehrauli district of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, the BJP’s youth wing.
According to the BJP leader’s compliant, Sajid’s “statement is an attack on the credibility of the Indian Army, its soldiers and the RSS. This is an anti-national activity and must be dealt with a strict hand.”
Sajid hails from the Malappuram district in Kerala is the current national president of the Campus Front of India, a student’s wing of the Popular Front of India.
“BJP government’s response to critiques regarding Kashmir issue resonates RSS arguments. Any voice raised for Kashmir is immediately tagged as ‘anti-national’ or ‘Pak-supporter’. Why are they afraid of discussions regarding political solutions on the Kashmir issue? Discussion or dissent isn’t a crime or a terrorist activity. It is a democratic right.” Sajid told Maktoob over the phone.
Rights activists and Sajid’s fellows in his organization argue that the BJP government has been continuously implicating vocal Muslim student activists as anti-nationals, thereby delegitimizing their voices of dissent instead of addressing them.
Sajid’s organization Campus Front of India, which is very vocal against the Hindu nationalism condemned Delhi Police action against its national president and said it is an attempt by the Hindutva government to paint ‘speaking for constitutional rights of Kashmiri people’ as anti-national.
Earlier, Sharjeel Imam, a Ph.D. scholar at JNU was booked under the draconian UAPA after he was subjected to harrowing media trials by the right-wing supportive media groups and hate campaigns in connection with his active participation in anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests. Following it, Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, research scholars at the same university in the national capital city and founders of Pinjra Tod, a feminist collective in Delhi were booked under UAPA in connection with Delhi violence.
“Student activists organically go against any authoritarian steps. BJP government, rooted in the hatred of Hindutva fascism is using draconian laws like UAPA to contain the democratic voices of protest. But they are repeating the same historic mistake. Any society will not entertain humiliation or suppression beyond a point,” Sajid responds to the recent incidents.
Afreen Fathima, JNU Students Union leader and a vocal Muslim activist told Maktoob this attack on students is just another way of stifling dissent and not letting important political conversations become mainstream.
“Sajid is a scholar. What do they expect of a scholar to talk about? It has been kept by the state that a Muslim cannot talk about human rights violations in Kashmir. It’s our democratic right. We just want to be on the right side of history. We do not want to be labeled as colonizers or occupiers. We stand in full solidarity with Sajid,” Afreen adds.
Fayiza CA is a student of Media Governance at Jamia Millia Islamia and a freelance journalist based in New Delhi. Her works appeared in The Quint, Maktoob, Dalit Camera, The Companion among others.