In the time of dogmatists, and growth of petty-bourgeois socialism against a modern, technologically-equipped Hindutva fascist force, Jamia Millia Islamia University and its locality are witnessing something different than the rest of India. The walls here are painted with vibrant enamel and acrylic colours. From Bhagat Singh to Malcolm X, all the fighters of the liberation struggle have appeared on the ‘publisher of poor’, as Galeano once wrote while describing the walls as weapons. As there is a growth of fascists all around the world along with massive economic clampdown and rich men are trying to transfer the entire burden on the poor, the people of the world are waiting for changes while taking the protests to the streets.
It’s not the lumpen economy that is reigning all over without any strong external support. In the time of Hindutva radicalisation in India, the ruling class is suddenly getting curious about what’s really happening in Jamia Millia Islamia, where students are chanting communist Lal salaam and Islamic La ilaha Illalah together. Jamia Millia Islamia University’s walls, covered with images and graffiti, are neither reflecting the Berlin Wall nor that of West Bank or Egypt, but the pictorial language is poignantly criticising the ruling classes. It often seems like a second liberation struggle where an Islamophobic state of India is facing an incessant luminous resistance from a minority institution, which is making the majority uncomfortable.
But students’ movement alone can’t take an anti-fascist struggle to a higher level on its own. It’s only the political assertion of the labouring poor, that a revolutionary change can be expected. In the vicinity of Jamia Millia Islamia University, the people have occupied the streets and corners. Md Arif and his wife Nazia’s four-month-old child Md Jahan died in the cold while accompanying the mother every day to Shaheen Bagh. This death of a child caused a furore on social media, but this tragedy showed how deeply the people are involved in this greater movement against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s draconian National Register of Citizens (NRC), the National Population Register (NPR) and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA). The resolution shown by the couple to carry on the struggle even after the death of the child shows how the labouring classes are attaching and identifying themselves with this movement and it’s where the students must integrate themselves with the masses, to learn from them and to equip them with politics for a better tomorrow.
The intellectuals of this country are residing in hibernating silence since there have been cases of firing at Jamia Millia Islamia students. As the tolerance level of majority people against oppression reaches a rabid stage it’s helping the fascist force to radicalise more. The students need to be able to build up the impulse to shape a political war. Only sentiments can’t transport political unity among the students. There is a need for a fundamental outlook.
The students of Jamia Millia Islamia need to be lenient and welcoming towards different kinds of revolutionary ideas and refrain from a positive commitment to someone, a certain set of ideas, or political forces that don’t accept class struggle. In short, political unity for the sake of unity presumes a certain lack of ideological principles. There are people who restrict the circles to narrow university interests and they try to consume the students. As long as there is no assertion of labouring poor, the struggle to unite the oppressed must go on. Otherwise, Jamia Millia Islamia students’ struggle will be sectional and hence won’t sustain.
Delhi-NCR is a belt of heavy industries. Yet, after the 8 January general strike, the working class’s struggle isn’t visible at the grassroots. The working class’s struggle against the CAA-NPR-NRC or in solidarity isn’t visible as they are divided into caste lines and are communally polarised by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its parental body Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The students must fight their isolation from the labouring poor and the exploited people and stop cocooning within the academic periphery.
In July 1999, more than 10,000 students took to the streets of Tehran against the government. They were supported by the workers. To counter their university’s business ties with apartheid South Africa, thousands of students and university workers came together flooding the Sproul Plaza. They chanted collectively against apartheid. During the uprisings in 1968 France, labour unions joined the students.
From the occupier of the Hamilton Hall, Columbia University to the people of Shaheen Bagh, the assertion of students is countering the pack of ‘uplifters’ or liberals. At the time of war against the poor and nationwide public unrest, the Jamia Millia Islamia students need to constantly engage with the poor and their everyday struggles.
The general student securities, the general student struggle and the scholastic aims of the students won’t get channelised until they are developed into conscious political fighters. That is possible if there is a unity of the oppressed under the leadership of the working mass.
Since the working class doesn’t exist in a classic sense everywhere due to the closure of heavy and organised industries en masse, the new labouring poor must be politically revolutionised to fight this battle against a modern fascist force and its corporate masters. We must not forget that the BJP and the RSS are technically-equipped forces. The technology used by neo-fascist forces all over the world needs to be studied well by the general mass under the leadership of its vanguards.
It’s only when the enemies are studied well, the class struggle may be fought with extreme vigour and unity of organised political forces against the ruling class. Students, in general, have a big role here. They need to join in the labouring mass to create a new left discourse. Until now, like the mainstream opposition parties, the students fighting the regime are responding to the narrative designed by Hindutva fascists and thereby remaining confined within their discourse, therefore, to make a difference, the students of Jamia Millia Islamia must create their own narrative to fight the surveillance–oppression.
The Delhi Assembly election 2020 showed that the BJP and the RSS can’t strive to befool the working class with toxic propaganda for long. This gives an opportunity to the Jamia Millia Islamia students to carry out endeavours to unite the working class’s cause with their struggle and thereby broaden the scope of the movement, forcing the government to heed to the demands raised on the street.
Dhrupadi Ghosh is a PhD student of Department of Sociology, Jamia Millia Islamia. She is a sculptor, an artist who use art to exhibit dissent brewing in the society. She writes on campus, gender, caste, communalism and class politics.