Published: 07th May 2019
What it's like to be a Muslim student in JNU: ABVP student writes hate mail about Muslims wasting water, disturbing peace during Ramzan
This is the very same hostel from which Najeeb Ahmed went missing the night after ABVP members beat him up, Muslims students say they continue to live in fear
A member of the ABVP in JNU has written to the Dean of Students demanding action against the 'Muslim mafia' on campus who are using the hostel dorm to say their Ramzan prayers. He states in his letter that the praying students are encroaching upon the 'rights of genuine students'. This is the very same hostel where almost three years ago, Najeeb Ahmed mysteriously disappeared from after getting beaten up by the ABVP only a few hours before he went missing.
Suraj Kumar from Mahi Mandavi has made public his letter to the Dean of Students. While accepting that the students have taken permission from the warden to conduct prayers and break their fast, Suraj says in his letter, "These Muslim students Mafia have without any consensus of the hostelers and only taking the permission of the JNU hostel Warden authority and somewhat illegally occupy the Mahi hostel dormitory and displace & adjust those students who have been residing there."
He also goes on to blame the Muslim students for the routine summer water scarcity on campus, "Coming of these Muslim student Mafia in huge crowd has been resulting in exhausting of our water availability for washing and all. Thus, it leads to severe water crisis in the hostel. Everyone in the hostel is getting affected by their unnecessary religious rituals. Why don’t they shift their prayers to any other place? Why are they targeting our Mahi Mandavi hostel specifically?"
The student also claimed that allowing the students to observe iftar will lead to the possibility of 'communalism, casteism, linguism'. "We are disturbed by Muslim students Mafia because of their religious slogans and 'shoutings and exertations' of their Maulvis and Maulanas," he explained in the letter. After referring to the Muslims as the mafia a couple of more times in the letter, Suraj ends by seeking a ban in the Mahi hostel and asks for rules to be prescribed to the students on how the celebration should be conducted.
When we reached out to some Muslim students to ask for their reactions to the letter, they said that this is a regular thing. The students say that they are frequently abused, bullied and discriminated against on the JNU campus. "We've been having our iftar in the hostels on campus for ages now. And its not just Muslim students, even non-Muslims join us when we break the fast. This letter is just another attempt at hate mongering and that is something that happened to us on a daily basis," said a student who has been on campus since 2014.
Pointing out that this hostel is the very same one from which Najeeb Ahmed went missing, Alam H says that Muslim students have always lived in fear. "If you see in the letter, he has continuously referred to the Muslim students as goondas and mafia. But this is not restricted to the letter, he says that students are abused on campus as well on social media. "The hate comments are against our religion, the way we dress, our rituals, festivals. These incidents have increased especially after the present VC came to power," he explained.
Sadath Hussain, who has been on campus for the last three years calls the letter 'funny', "He has all the right to write such a letter and he can take it up to the authorities. But the students who are praying there are doing it with all due permission and they just use the dormitory. They make no noise and don't violate any rules."
Speaking about the Hindu festivals celebrated on campus, Alam said, "Just like how a lot of non-Muslims come to our iftars, every time there is a pooja, we also go and join and celebrate with the Hindu students. We've all been able to participate in each other's celebration," he added. Agreeing with Alam, Sadath said the JNU campus has always celebrated festivals together irrespective of what religion anybody was. "When we celebrate eid, people from AISA, SFI and even ABVP come and eat with us," he said.
Now we have exams going on and need to submit our dissertation, and reading such things is just painful. But the administration, the wardens and even the procotorial enquiry will not be fair to us
"But there are certain students from the ABVP who are always out to beat us, abuse us and call us names," Alam said. Students shout out 'Mullah' or 'Aatankwadi', at the Muslim students but none of the students complain because even if they do there's no one to hear them. "Sometimes even faculty members pass remarks, sometimes on the women students who choose to wear the hijab," Sadath said.
"Even the warden supports the students, so even if we go with a complaint we know that no action will be taken. Also in many instances, the people who complain itself will then be targeted," a student explained. Giving us an example, he said that a few months ago a Muslim student was made fun of for his beard, "Then somebody dropped a beer bottle on his head while he was walking. He complained but no action was taken," he said. Another surprising thing that the student mentioned is that the Muslim students on campus actually move around in groups when they have to go out in the night, "We are afraid. We're scared we will get attacked, if we have to go out in the night, we actually just move around in groups," he said.
Going back to the letter written by Suraj, Alam said that unlike what the former said about the Muslim students exhausting the water in the hostel, he said, "JNU has always had water problems during the summer forget hostels — even the staff quarters have trouble. And whatever we have during iftar is what we buy with our money. It's not like the hostel provides us with any food or anything. They give us a glass of milk but we would have anyway got a glass at breakfast, which we don't eat during this time," he explained.
"It's really upsetting to read a letter like this. And it is also painful," Alam says. "Now we have exams going on and need to submit our dissertation, and reading such things is just painful. But the administration, the wardens and even the procotorial enquiry will not be fair to us," he says. Students say that they are even harassed for supporting the KKR during the IPL season because the team is owned by Shah Rukh Khan. "I'm talking to you because I've been here since 2014 and I have the courage to but most Muslim students just stay quiet because they are terrified. They are scared about what will happen if they go public about what they are going through," he told us.
Sadath says that he would actually like to meet Suraj and ask him what is actually troubling him, "If he wants to take it up with the administration or any other internal committee I'm certain we can go and sort out the issue. Whatever it might be."
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