Jamia Millia Islamia never had to wait for a photographer to arrive and report the police brutalities it had to endure during 2019’s student protests against discriminatory citizenship laws. Amongst the beaten students, there were journalism students of the campus to capture them instantly in its intensity.
The coffee table photo book ‘Hum Dekhenge: Protest and Pogrom’ launched on Monday at Press Club of India is the compilation of the collective resistance that has been time and again erased. Be it the white-washing of the wall writings or the mass killings of Muslims or the imprisonment of the student leaders and human rights defenders.
“The photo book fights the forced forgetfulness of the participation of police and state in the killings and burning of Muslims and their livelihoods,” says Safoora Zargar who had been arrested under draconian UAPA after she protested against CAA and is now out on bail.
Curated by Aasif Mujtaba, an alumnus of Aligarh Muslim University and IIT Delhi, and Md Meharban, a Jamia Millia Islamia alumnus ‘Hum Dhekhenge’ is dedicated to another Jamia alumnus and Pulitzer awardee, Danish Siddiqui, who had inspired fellow photographers in death as in life.
Sourced from 28 photographers with 200 plus photos, ‘Hum Dekhenge’ comprises photographs from the events that panned out from December 12, 2019, to March 22, 2020, in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and protests in other parts of the country.
“The police brutality in Jamia library continued to northeast Delhi. And history will look back at Shaheen Bagh through the book,” said Aasif Mujtaba, who is also one of the primary organisers of Shaheen Bagh’s sit-in against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 and the National Register of Citizens.
According to Meharban, whose works have featured in various global and local publications, ‘Hum Dekhenge is an attempt to dig beneath the lies and propaganda to present key events from the anti-CAA movement and the Delhi pogrom.’
“The photo book pauses us to watch over the police brutalities and reminds us of our resistance. We refuse to forget the power within us,” says Afreen Fathima, national secretary of the Fraternity Movement.
“Aasif and Meharban break the tendency of boxing Muslims either into victims or villains by taking the agency to document the reality. This photo book is a post-secular act,” says Waseem RS, a Ph.D. scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Waseem, Fraternity national committee member was speaking at a panel discussion “Art of resistance’ which was a part of the book launch event.
Supreme Court lawyers Prashant Bhushan and MR Shamshad, CPIM politburo member Brinda Karat, United Against Hate founder Nadeem Khan, author Ziya us Salam, noted photographer Ram Rahman and Delhi University professor Apoorvanand were present at the book launch.
“It is a beautiful, poignant, and sometimes heartbreaking photo documentation of the events surrounding the protests and what followed,” according to Bhushan.
“The bulk of the photographs are taken by Meharban himself. The book is conceived and designed by another bright and courageous anti-CAA activist Aasif Mujtaba,” Bhushan said.
Nadeem Khan while calling out Congress leader and former student activist Kanhaiya Kumar over his “forgotten ties” with incarcerated activist Umar Khalid, said all those incarcerated activists fighting to uphold the democracy and the Constitution are his friends.
Pointing out that census is being connected with National Population Register (NPR), which came into being along with CAA and NRC, CPIM leader Brinda Karat reminded that protests are still ongoing in Assam and in the northeast states.
Karat also said that the northeast Delhi pogrom cannot be termed as “riots.”
“It was a state-sponsored assault, neatly engineered by the Ministry of Home Affairs. Our experience with victims of genocide clearly suggested that Delhi Police was acting on the orders of MHA and its role in it was never probed,” the left leader alleged.
The 100 plus paged powerful photo document, is published by White Dot Publishers and forwarded by Prashant Bhushan.
The book includes the screengrabs of CCTV footage of police brutality in Jamia Millia Islamia library during anti-CAA protests. The video was exclusively released by Maktoob. Photographs of Maktoob journalists Shakeeb KPA and Meer Faisal were also featured in the work.
You can buy the book from here.