Mir Shahid-ul-Islam

In early 2013, on a cold January morning the students of Kashmir University were asked to assemble in the Ghandi Bhawan auditorium. The class representatives were ordered to make sure that all the students were present inside the auditorium. On that very day the university administration had planned a protest against the brutal Delhi gang rape. Soon the Vice Chancellor, Registrar, Dean Students Welfare, Proctor and other administrators were seen addressing the students and they expressed anger, grief and concern over the tragic episode. They talked in length and breadth about woman rights, punishment for the accused, stricter laws and justice. After the speeches were over, a protest rally was taken out inside the campus. Students holding play cards made a round of the campus and the protest ended in the lawns of the auditorium. This event had a media coverage as well

One and a half year later:

A day before yesterday, Kashmir University Students Union under the title“commemoration of Shopian Double Rape and Murder” had planned a protest against the gruesome rape and murder of two young women of shopian in 2009.  Leading to the day, the KUSU volunteers had worked really hard throughout the past week. The volunteers pasted posters around the campus which were brought down by the proctoral staff but this didn’t stop the volunteers. Every morning the students found fresh posters pasted on the walls. The volunteers had one on one interaction meetings with students in the varsity. On the day of protest there was an uneasy calm around the campus. At one of the KU gates the students were allowed to enter into the campus only after producing identity cards. The police and proctoral staff were on the move inside the campus. The protest was supposed to start at 2 PM in the Iqbal library lawn but in view of foiling the protest, the police and the proctoral force had cordoned off the Lawn. Fearing a massive protest, the wing started rounding up students and the students were questioned about the event. It was evident that the forces wanted to instill fear among the students.

At 1:45 PM hundreds of student barged into the lawn and sat down for the protest. The thing worth mentioning here is that the students did not enter the lawn from the main entrance but entered the lawn from an alternative path which is behind the library. This took the proctor and his force by surprise and they ran towards the students.  The agitated Proctor, Deputy Proctor and The Dean Students welfare asked the students to vacate the lawn and threatened them of dire consequences. The students exhibited utmost resistance.

The Deputy Proctor then asked the students, “why are you protesting for Asiya and Neelofer ?” The students replied : “Sir, we think  Asiya and Neelofer are our sisters and they are your  sisters as well”.  But the reply from the academician (read deputy proctor) was something very shocking.  He replied, “They are not my sisters. If they are your sisters, go home and protest there.”

This statement speaks for itself. It speaks volumes about the moral values and conscience of this teacher. Hearing this, the students booed the proctor and his colleagues.  There was no remorse or an iota of regret on his face. This statement only strengthened the resolve of the students and they went on with the protest.

The first speaker came and she broke the silence with her powerful and eloquent speech.  Braving all odds, here was a daughter of eve standing in defiance of tyranny.  She looked right into the face of the oppressor and sent a message that would shake any wall of occupation. Listening to her words, the mighty chinars in the adjacent Naseem Bagh might have wept in silence. She was standing up for somebody she didn’t know. She felt their pain and cried for them. She stood up and gave a voice to the voiceless. The sun was shining all high and bright, the heat was soaring up but there was no stopping her. Her speech was just the beginning, what followed was a storm of pain, anger and resentment.

She was standing up for Asiya and Nelofer . Every word spoken by her was a tight face palm for all those with a dead moral conscience. It is ironic and unfortunate that in this case the ones with a dead moral conscience are a few academicians of the state’s highest seat of learning. By the time the first speech was over, the crowd was emotionally charged up and Azaadi slogans were reverberating in the whole campus. More and more students started to come up and speak for Asiya & Nilofer. The gathering kept on swelling up. Students, scholars, faculty members, employees lined up on the pavement leading to Allama Iqbal library.  On the other side of the lawn many academicians from the varsity joined in solidarity. The police and the Proctoral wing that had come to stop the students from commemorating this tragedy of Shopain looked helpless. Their strategy of fear psychosis back fired them. The more they tried to stop and intervene, the resistance from students intensified. It was apparently an embarrassing situation for a few white collared collaborators. They took out their frustration on the media persons present there and didn’t allow them to cover the event.

The event went on and the speakers deliberated upon justice for Asiya and Nelofer, freedom, resistance and the atrocities committed upon women under occupation. Students lined up to volunteer for speaking about this tragic episode. Even though the temperature was soaring up but the students showed utmost determination and gave a patient hearing to all the speakers.  There was this one speaker who read his poem in Kashmiri and all the students present there were in tears. The event ended after two hours with students raising Azaadi slogans at the top of their voices. Later the Proctoral wing detained two students for joining the protests. They were realized late in the day after giving a written undertaking.

Walking back home I kept thinking about these academicians, I couldn’t believe that they were the same guys who stood by Damini a year back but disowned their very own Asiya and Nelofer. I can only say that their moral conscience is dead. They are just a bunch of house Negros who sold their values for pleasing their masters.

Published in: Kashmir Times & Kashmir Dispatch


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