Published: 19th September 2018
I'm apolitical, Kashmiri and don't have a six-pack: Aeshal Nisar, DU college's first independent prez
Aeshal Nisar Dalal, a final year history hons student in DU's CVS had won the college's presidential polls as an independent candidate despite ABVP opposition
Aeshal Nisar Dalal calls himself a normal Kashmiri guy without any political inclinations. For someone who found happiness in social activism and campaigning for women's rights, he was shocked when a few policemen started interrogating him recently. They wanted to know his family's background, even their minuscule details including the marital status, education and career background of all of them including his brother's wife. There was a case filed against him in the Malviya Nagar Police station and all of a sudden, he was tagged an anti-national. That wasn't the end of it. A popular newspaper had name shamed him for made-up reasons. All of this happened in and around the time he filed the election nomination to be the president of University of Delhi's College of Vocational Studies as an independent candidate, which he later went on to win, without the backing of any student union.
This was Aeshal's first stint in elections. A III year BA (Hons) History student, this South Kashmir boy says that all he cares about right now is the welfare of his fellow students, regardless of their political background. At the same time, he wanted to prove that someone who has no background in politics or isn't very rich or isn't bulky or strong can still get to contest in elections. "When I joined college, I noticed that elections there were political and monetary. I'm someone who is more into studies and books. I'm neither very bulky nor do I have six-pack abs. DU is the most prestigious institute of the country. The elections here should be more intellectual. I wanted to prove that normal student without much political or financial backing, but is capable of working for his collegemates' benefits could also do well in elections," he says.
Being Aeshal: Aeshal loves to swim, play football and go for long drives in his leisure time
After he won the elections, a lot of his supporters came up to Aeshal and told him that now it's his turn to prove that he isn't an anti-national. But he doesn't believe in all that. "Do I have to justify my amount of nationalism?" he questions, adding, "That can't be measured. It is all in people's heads. I'm real and national because of Kashmir. I also have a good political understanding. " He has also denied joining any political party, even though his friends have approached him already. "My focus is completely on activism," says Aeshal, who also heads the college's Women Development Cell. Apart from that, he's worked as a programme manager for Stears, which is a global initiative which works on gender equality.
He tells us about how he was targeted on the basis of regionality and religion. He was also called anti-national by the ABVP. "Since I've come from Kashmir, there are ideological differences and issues were made about a few of my past writings. They'd said that I'm deteriorating the environment of DU and that I'm making a new JNU through a newspaper article. My opposition supporters have told me to my face that I'm an anti-national. But despite this, the college bodies and the principal had spoken in my support." he shares. Aeshal tells us that these instances made him a stronger person and now he is very confident to survive in an ABVP dominated council.
Throughout the conversation, Aeshal was exceptionally calm, despite all kinds of emotional trauma that he had to go through before the elections. "All those incidents prior to the elections were very disheartening. I'm all alone here. My family is in Kashmir and I didn't share any of this with my parents. But I had a few cousins and friends with whom I could open up. Thanks to the almighty, all my friends were in support. That gave me a boost," says the 20-year-old.