When we heard the news about what our fellow students were facing in Delhi, Guwahati and Tripura, we knew at once that something would have to be done. The police violence at Jamia was disturbing, many of us were getting live updates from our friends in Delhi. We decided that we need to step up and let India know that the student community here in Bengaluru is also part of that narrative. We are part of it, and we care. We needed to make our resistance known.
The larger goal was to let students’ voices be heard. The least that we could do was to show that we students stood together, in solidarity towards all that is happening right now.
Student body organizations always start out meaning well and fizzle out somewhere along the way. Every time, it’s because one hero figure tends to emerge and the whole thing gets out of hand. In this case, all did it together. We rallied on social media – memes can go a long way. There were many who didn’t stand up. We don’t stand in judgment of them. I for one, don’t think I have the authority to advise them in any way – we don’t know their compulsions. Some might want to come but be unable to for various reasons – their identity might not allow them access to certain privileges.
We do object to those who are complacent. Academic administrations, we found, were surprisingly discouraging. There were many colleges in which students wanted to step up but were held back by the faculty and staff. It was especially disappointing to see our teachers, who taught us sociology, civics, history and other subjects, where revolt and standing up against the system play such an important role – now stop us from putting those very principles into action. This is confusing to most people. Some students refused to back down even at this point.
I told people I was going to protest and was told to stay safe. Adults are adults – I’m 22 years old. I asked my college friends to gather but word spread. We soon learned all of Bengaluru wanted to participate. And it just so happened that I was the person who made the poster. Things had suddenly gathered momentum. My mum found out about it when we were detained, as a lot of people were talking about it. Surprisingly, though, she laughed. “Stay safe,” she said. She asked me if I had done anything wrong and I said I hadn’t.
We went to the police on December 16, to ask for protection, as female students were planning to attend the protest in large numbers. We said we would like police officers to be around incase anyone tried to hijack it and make it political.
In the end, some people did get roughed up. Other than the fact that the detention was unconstitutional, the cops were very sweet. My parents were super worried about my safety because let’s be honest, my name shows I belong to a minority community. I don’t fret about it much, other students don’t say to me, “Your name is Teresa, you are a girl, or you have short hair.” The only thing students are particular about is that affiliation to any political party is not welcome. When we were detained, a guy affiliated with one party sent us a message suggesting we ask a particular politician for help. We refused, we were ready to stay at the station for another 48 hours rather than take help from a political figure. We didn’t ‘want to lose the integrity of the movement we were trying to build.
(The writer is a third year student in Media and Communications / As told to Ashoka M.K)...