Fear versus the failure; power versus the people
This is not an article to report the latest news. This is not an article to show statistics. This is just a stringing together of many words in a desperate attempt to somehow make you, the reader, understand that hate only begets hate.
As a journalist, my job revolves around current affairs, latest developments in stories around the world, photographs and videos of relevance and most importantly, interacting with people from all walks of life. The first thing I do when I open my phone in the morning is to check the news and consume a healthy dose of information from around the world. Not a lot of people might have the privilege to say this, but I love my job.
But in the last year, especially in the months after the general elections, a suffocating sense of fear has blanketed me and millions of other young people, when most of the news that we read remains seeped in bloodshed, destruction and bigotry.
As a woman, I have always lived in fear of what might happen to me at home and outside, since no space is ever truly safe. I wonder if my body will be violated by people who have never learnt the meaning of restraint and respect? As a queer person, I have lived with the doubt of whether my existence is valid. As a journalist, sometimes I worry about my family being hurt from the wrath of those who are in a position of power if I write an article to criticize them.
Why must I and my fellow Indians live in fear?
Currently, the brutality shown to the Jawaharlal Nehru University students by the ABVP goons and the atrocious attack on Jamia Milia Islamia students has left me sick to the core. These are scholars, future leaders and innovators. They have the right to protest and the right to voice their dissent. Why slip a noose over their political beliefs?
Many of my peers have attempted to discuss these issues at home with their family, chosen or otherwise, but most have been met with the same old sarcastic remarks of “you’re an Urban Naxal!” or “don’t act cocky cause you went to college – too educated now, aren’t you?”
Young people join hands to fight battles bigger than their world and are ridiculed by adults twice their age for caring and for showing up. Join us instead! The climate crisis does not spare anybody. Bad policymaking by the government will harm everyone except the 1% of our population that has way too much money than is necessary. Inciting violence by sticking to a rigid belief system that deems anyone else’s life of lesser value only creates new generational trauma.
How can any parent still believe that voting for a party that has violent ideas and no conscience is the right thing to do? How can young voters press the button that could potentially unleash a religious war in the country? How can we sleep at night knowing that there are people out there on the streets killing in the name of god?
Forgive me, but I stand by my decision to be vocal about the issues that pain my generation. These institutes that were attacked, thousands of students have wanted to study at them, find a new perspective through the many individuals they would’ve met there and be guided by some of the best minds in the world. Now, there is no telling when they will burn.
This is not even a Right Wing versus Left Wing fight anymore. It is the people versus the power that overwhelms entire social, religious and political structures in our country. It is a fight against patriarchy and privilege and every single social/religious/political construct that seeks to dominate a weaker minority, finding pleasure in war.
The only positivity I find in the current situation is the unity of students and their resilience in the face of terror. Never have I wanted to be part of an institution more than ever. What helps me keep my sanity intact is knowing that for every fascist there will be a hundred people who stay firm in their stance of secularity and counter the mindless violence.
To the women of Shaheen Bagh, who have been sitting in the bitter Delhi cold to protest against the Citizenship Amended Act, the students of various universities in the nation who have voiced their dissent and the citizens who came out in solidarity of students and anti-CAA/NRC/NPR despite being detained or injured, I am indebted to because they have held the beacon of hope high above the heads of oppressors and subjugators, giving us all confidence to stand for what we believe in.
We always get chances to speak out against injustice and unfairness, every day in our lives – whether it be at home or outside. When we keep quiet and force others to do the same, we lose the right to be spoken for in times of trouble. In the wake of the dystopic political landscape we are facing now, a prose poem by German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller should reverb in everyone’s head.
“First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.”