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Lastly, though ill timed but the protests have also bought another lesson for the Muslim community

Tuesday December 24, 2019 7:44 PM, Asad Mirza, ummid.com

Lesson from Anti CAA Protest

The events of the past 12 days against the CAA-NRC have given a new narrative to the CAA-NRC protests, coupled with most of the optics of the protests portraying another picture of the protests. In addition to giving some issue to the Muslims community to ponder over.

The protests which started off from Jamia, and then spread to Muslim majority localities across the country, showed a screen filled with skullcaps and hijabs with a background of a mosque, tried to make us believe as if the protests were completely one- sided i.e. from the Muslim community.

Yes. To a large extent the protests were dominated by Muslims, as they are the first and the most obvious victim of the devious CAA-NRC. Yet conversely, everywhere in the country people from all communities including the Hindus supported them and in some place led the protests.

The campaign on social media, including Twitter and WhatsApp was proof enough that the protests had support from all communities of the country, and the vociferous posts against the police brutality in Delhi, UP and Karnataka were raised through these platforms, including supporting evidence through videos and pictures.

The underlying theme of the protests everywhere was that the people would not take any attack on the constitution of India and people of all hues are together with their Muslims brethren on this.

Constitutional expert Prof Niraja Gopal Jayal in an interview has said that it is true that the CAA per se does not impact Indian Muslims. But when twinned with the National Register of Citizens (NRC), it could adversely impact not only Indian Muslims, but also poor Indians of all faiths.

She feels that the very introduction of the principle of religious discrimination is cause for concern. Once the principle is admitted, that discrimination on religious grounds is permissible in law, it may not be possible to limit or contain its application to other realms as well.

And this is the concern of most of the protesters, who are taking a stand not about today but about the future. If this evil design is not nipped in the bud then it will present us with humongous fallouts in the future.

Another ugly face of the protests was the police brutality as evident through various videos posted on social media, showing naked brutality by some state police. Most obvious concern was regarding people in civil dresses donning bullet-proof jackets and wielding batons and wreaking havoc in cahoots with the police. It is indeed imperative to identify the culprits and strictest action be taken against them and their masters.

In addition, nowhere you could see the nametags and belts of the policemen helping you to identify them. This brings us to another off shoot of the protests, that Indian public needs police reforms in a big way. It still continues with the mind-set of the colonial past that it serves the masters, and not the common man. This demand has always been there and some efforts have been taken but they fall too short of the need and it is time that Indians demand the police reforms are initiated in a big way and make police accountable to some public body.

Part of the larger narrative that Muslim students of Jamia and AMU started the violence and acted against the police, is seen by the students and community leaders a pre-planned strategy. By encouraging this narrative, the authorities wanted to convey the message that the Muslim students started the violence, though the evidence completely belies this.

Most of the students of the two universities and community leaders are of the view that both institutions have been part of the Muslim renaissance to bring education to its every follower. And universities like Jamia, which have universally acclaimed centres like the Department of Mass Communications, Dental Hospital and the Law Centre, and increasing prestige. There was an evil plan to demonise these two institutions so as to show them as the front of trouble, and in future create every obstacle in their development. They should realise that in reality Jamia and AMU both have a sizeable number of non-Muslim students on their rolls and any step against these two institutions will not be against them but against the Indian students.

Lastly, though ill timed but the protests have also bought another lesson for the Muslim community. During the last 20 years, Muslims have progressed educationally, but yet the dream of every parent and student is for him to become a doctor or an engineer or a civil servant. No harm in that, everyone should have high dreams. But they also have to realise that not everyone can become a doctor, an engineer or a civil servant. If they do so then from where will we find new teachers, historians, writers, artists, business people etc.

For the people associated with community’s educational development it would be pertinent if they could try to get this mindset changed and counsel the students to acquire as much higher education as is possible for them but also motivate them to become a part of the administrative or policing structure of the country. Till the time we have enough number of Muslims in the lower echelons of administrative and policing structure, episodes like this will continue to recur.

[Asad Mirza is a Sr journalist based in New Delhi. In his career spanning more than 20 years, he was also associated with BBC Urdu Service and Khaleej Times of Dubai. He writes on Muslims, educational and international affairs issues. Email: asad.mirza.nd@gmail.com.]

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