To criminalise protests by Muslims and disallow them to even speak is to tell them that they are not part of the democratic universe of India. For what is democracy if not the freedom to have a view which could be contrary to the mainstream?
There are two distinct features of the protests: The youth, mainly students, are from all religions and social backgrounds. The second feature is that while the Muslim presence is spontaneous, the effort to persuade others to join has met with little success.
To see the Congress’s compromise with the Shiv Sena, which was the first to have proudly claimed responsibility for the demolition of the Babri Masjid, was the last thing one could have imagined. By considering doing so, it has made it clear that the language of Hindutva will now be the common political language.
People like Hany Babu, with the confidence of their scholarship and the integrity of their profession, can talk to the state with their heads held high. Statism cannot succeed as long as they are free.
It is beyond the capability of the faculty and students of the JNU to save it from an administration which is at war with it. It is the duty of the society, not only its alumni, who are in powerful positions to speak out but also those who have never been to it, for the very existence of spaces like JNU have helped us in thinking about possibilities which can become realities.
Bilkis Bano is the quintessential Indian our Constitution demands us to be. She may be unlettered but she understands the spirit of the Preamble. She understands the weight of the words, “We, the people of India”.
Islamophobia continues to run like blood in our veins. We share our lives with those who hate Muslims and yet claim to remain civilised. Unless we first recognise this duplicity, we would not be able to move towards getting rid of this disease.