Published: 16th December 2019
Our doors are open: How Delhiites are offering refuge to Jamia students after brutal police attack
Activists, students and even common people are offering help to the students of Jamia Millia Islamia, after the police violence on Sunday
Ashraf Abidi has not rested since Sunday morning. Rest, is in fact, the last thing on this retired government employee's mind. He has to make sure that a Bangladeshi student of Jamia Millia Islamia gets back to Dhaka by this evening. He's arranging a cab for another student from Bijnor to get to the bus stand while consoling her parents back home. "A few students of Jamia were staying with me last night. If more students are in need of a place, my doors are always open for them," he says.
Abidi isn't scared of speaking up and isn't hesitant to extend help. In fact, he asks us, "Do you know anyone who needs help?"
Brave words resonate with a spirit that is quickly emerging in the embattled national capital. Social media has been flooded with messages from concerned citizens bravely putting out their addresses and phone numbers offering everything from a place to stay to whatever first aid is possible.
Abidi isn't alone. Not all doors in Delhi are closed. Even as an atmosphere of fear has come to prevail over the campus of Jamia Millia Islamia and neighborhoods around it, many students from nearby universities, activists and common people have come out into the open saying that they are always ready to provide refuge to the students of Jamia.
This also includes a lot of students of Jawaharlal Nehru University, where protests and an exam boycott about the proposed fee hike have been going on for the past couple of months. "It is difficult for them to come out of the area because of the curfew. But they must not forget that JNU is always open for them," says Apeksha Priyadarshini, a JNUSU Councillor. Is it possible for the JNU students to offer refuge in their university? Apeksha says, "An exam boycott is going on, but there's nothing happening in the JNU hostels. Also, the police won't do what they've done in AMU and Jamia here. They won't enter JNU without permission."
A group called Karwan-e-Mohabbat, which fights hate crimes and offers refuge to people is also active in helping the students. One of their founders, former IAS officer Harsh Mander was said to be there at the police stations late into the night, helping the detained students get bail. "We received his message saying that all of them got bail. We are also actively looking for SOS messages and to provide safe spaces to students in need," says Aamir Khan, a volunteer.