We will be on the streets and we know it is not safe at all

Illustration: Faheem PT

My beloved friend, the national secretary of the Fraternity Movement, and Jawaharlal Nehru University Student Union Councillor Afreen Fatima’s father Javed Mohammad was illegally detained and arrested by Uttar Pradesh Police. Her mother and younger sister were detained along with him for over two days without any warrant.

Uttar Pradesh’s Hindu nationalist government is unleashing its usual tactic of seizing and demolishing the houses and properties of those who protest against them. Javed’s house has been demolished by the authorities stating it is an ‘illegal construction’. The police reprimanded that they would investigate if Afreen Fatima was also a part of her father’s “conspiracies.”

Afreen Fatima’s father Javed Muhammed is a renowned social activist in Allahabad. It is true that he has led a significant role in leading the anti-CAA protests. How does that become “a history of criminal activities?” Nowadays, in India, any reaction against the inhumane policies of the state is considered a criminal act and an act of “terrorism”.

The Jharkhand Police killed two Muslim teenagers during the protest held against the derogatory comment against the prophet Muhammed. This is what self-acclaimed anti-Fascist Hemant Soren’s police did. Mamata Banerjee’s Police also arrested about 50 Muslims in connection with the agitation. Moreover, news emerged that the draconian NSA will be imposed on those who protested near Jama Masjid, Delhi. At the same time in Uttar Pradesh, various charges including the Gangster Act have been charged against Javed Muhammed and hundreds of Muslims.

Through press releases and tweets, the police announced that they will demolish ‘illegal’ properties of protesters. The houses of two Muslim activists Abdul Waqif and Muzzamil, who participated in a protest in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh have been bulldozed. The police have declared that they had decided to further demolish the properties of all who were arrested.

Afreen Fatima’s house has also been demolished by the police. Destroying the life and livelihood of a family as well as imposing draconian charges and arresting its members, signifies how much this is a continuation of the anti-muslim nationalism. Here UAPA, NSA, and Gangster laws have become nothing but state tools to silence Muslims in the country.

The protests that happened at Allahabad and at various cities across the country have been against the police’s inaction over the BJP leader’s derogatory remarks about the prophet Muhammed. Whereas the police are plotting to extinguish the issue by claiming the protests as rebellious and arresting its leaders.

The hate speech against the prophet Muhammed is nothing but the latest instance of India’s Islamophobia. What else can be expected today from a nation inhabited by a group of extremists that are feeding on hatred? The Sangh Parivar functions upon its fundamental anti-muslim ideology with a systematic conviction that Muslims from their citizenship, attire, food habits, and beliefs must be completely eradicated from this soil.

Hindu nationalism is the only ideology in the world that openly claims and attacks Muslims as its first and foremost enemy.

Many rise and ask why Muslims keep protesting in the streets and why can’t they remain calm. Our answer is that, when the visual media and press come down with their anti-Muslim propaganda, and the government itself becomes their pawn, all we have is the streets.

The streets are our media. It is the only place where we have our say. We took to the streets when we were being driven out of our country in the name of CAA. We took to the streets when our freedom of attire and education were denied in the name of Hijab. We took to the streets when you imprisoned our professors like Hani Babu and our beloved friends like Sharjeel Imam. We took to the streets as our masjids, houses, and shops were being destroyed.

This street is our last refuge. We have a single question for the patronisers who allege today’s Indian Muslims of being emotional. What do you want us to do!? Should we line up in front of you like the Jews during German Nazism?

Indeed we had public demonstrations, praising and celebrating love and peace. We conducted secular seminars, foolishly trusting that secularism would save us. We kept voting for secular parties of the nation, although they gave us nothing in return. We were told that today’s patience is tomorrow’s peace. Now all these advisors have to answer us, what did we gain from our long-practiced patience and deep endurance?

The state is not with us. The police are hunting down Muslims viciously while the judiciary remains mute spectators. The minars of Babri have decayed on Indian soil, with justice undelivered. We all had much awaited for decades for the court to deliver justice in the Babri case. However, we have finally heard what the court has to say. Has the court seen the pain of Karnataka’s Muslim students who had to drop out of their classes halfway through their degrees and plus two? They are still at their homes because they fought for their religious freedom. The court remained silent even when they were suspended from their exam halls. Thus, we must take to the streets when the whole system here turns silent.

We know it isn’t safe at all. We may have to pay the price with our lives and livelihoods. We do know that it is with the martyrdoms of people like Mudassir and Sahil who were shot dead in Ranchi, and with the struggles of those imprisoned student leaders like Rauf Shareef and Gulfisha Fatima, all rights movements will be victorious.

Javed Muhammed and Afreen Fatima led these movement. And what the time demands is for each of us to unite with them.

Waseem R.S is a Ph.D. candidate at Jawaharlal Nehru University.