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Statement by Jamia Teachers Forum

by, 29 September 2008

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On the 13th of September Delhi was rocked by a series of bomb blasts resulting in the loss of innocent lives and a feeling of anger and insecurity among the citizens of the country. Exactly two weeks later the city suffered another blast on 27 September.

There is absolutely no place for heinous acts of terror that lead to the deaths of innocent people in a civilized society with such acts only helping fundamentalist right wing forces. The JTF reiterates that strong steps need to be taken to combat terrorist activities in our country and the actual culprits of these inhuman crimes should be apprehended and punished under law.

The police action in Jamia Nagar on 19 September, in which two alleged terrorists Atif and Sajid and one police officer Mohan Chand Sharma were shot dead, has raised several questions.

Police versions of encounters in India, be it the Ansal Plaza shootout in Delhi or Sohrabuddin and Kausarbi’s killings in Gujarat, have often been untenable and at times even stage-managed. Only a thorough and independent probe into the Jamia Nagar encounter can put an end to the various claims and counter-claims that are being made. The JTF demands that a judicial enquiry by a judge with impeccable democratic credentials be instituted at the earliest.

The police must be forced to act in a responsible, transparent, and accountable manner and cannot be allowed to harass innocent Muslims, in the form of indiscriminate arrests. This is what was witnessed in the days immediately following the encounter. Else, in the name of fighting terrorism, the Muslim community will be further alienated. The JTF demands that the Delhi Police disclose all the arrests made in connection with the Delhi blasts and provide the basis for all such arrests. The heavy and intimidating police presence in Jamia Nagar must be reduced without delay so that normalcy is restored in the locality.

The teachers of Jamia have decided to set up a Students Relief Committee (with private donations from staff , teachers and students), and a Legal Aid Committee to help those who are under detention. The JTF supports these efforts and appeals to all teachers to generously contribute to these two committees. The University administration should maintain contact with the students who are in police detention and ensure that their constitutional rights are not violated. The university must also provide necessary identification and verification to all students of the university living as tenants in the locality so that instances of insecure landlords evicting their tenants in a panic reaction are kept under check. To ensure normal attendance in the University, the administration should make provisions for accommodating those students who have been evicted from private hostels in Jamia Nagar.

The communal stereotyping of Muslim minorities only alienates them and weakens the fight against terrorism. That is precisely, what the RSS-BJP is doing today. We must not forget that Hindu and Muslim communal organizations are two sides of the same coin, each reinforcing the other. Stereotyping and profiling of Muslims belonging to Jamia Nagar, the students of Jamia Millia Islamia and Muslims hailing from Azamgarh is also being done by the media. Since the blasts, the media has tried to sensationalize the issue by reinforcing communal stereotypes. All this only provides grist to the mill of communal elements who are ever keen on making political capital out of human tragedies. While we are all united against terrorism, allowing communal typecasting and harassment of innocent Muslims will only be playing into their hands.

The JTF condemns terrorism in all its forms and appeals to secular and democratic minded sections of society to stand behind the Jamia community and ensure that the due process of law and justice is not subverted in the name of fighting terror.

Prof. Inayet Zaidi (President)

Prof. R.Gopinath (Secretary)