Monday, September 29, 2008

Letter from Jamia Millia - One Night in the Boys' Hostel

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Letter from Jamia Millia - One Night in the Boys' Hostel

A peek into the mind of young Muslims.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Fourteen days after the Delhi blasts, ten days after the 'encounter' in Jamia Nagar, and a day after the explosion in Mehrauli, life is no longer the same for the students of Delhi's Jamia Millia University.

It's night and I'm in the boys' hostel of this prestigious university that, though secular in character, attracts thousands of Muslim students from all over the country.

Amidst rumours of 'plain-clothed policemen' interrogating students, Mr Faraz Husain, final year student in B. Arch, says, "Friends outside the University jokes that Jamia will be banned on the lines of SIMI".

A few days after the Delhi blasts, Mr Husain went for a job interview at Larsen & Tuboro in Okhla where a couple of other applicants gave him a "cautious look" when he revealed the name of his college.

Mr Husain adds, "Earlier when Muslim terrorists staged attacks, we would watch the news on TV and that was that, but now after Jamia's name has been linked to the blasts, we all feel affected."

New jokes have sprung up at the campus. Those who share names with those of suspects are prime targets. Tera naam Tauqeer hai, tu jaroor pakda jayega (Your name is Taueer, you will certainly be caught by the cops). Mohammad Tauqeer is a suspected mastermind behind Delhi blasts.

"It's not about trivializing the issue," explains Mr Ali Rizvi, a first-year student in Mass Communications. "It's about lightening the mood."

There is an uneasiness due to the changing profile of terrorists. Mr Aamir Khan, studying a Masters in Social Work, remembers that while walking in Batla House locality on the night of the encounter, he was afraid of greeting fellow students. "Who knows who is a member of the Indian Mujahidin?" he says.

"Earlier terrorists were seen as religious radicals," observes Mr Rizvi. "But now they are portrayed as educated, smart, working professionals." Mr Husain recently started wearing a goatee, but was advised by his cousin to grow a beard since "the police are picking up smart, clean-shaven people."

Mr Riaz Mohammad, a final-year student in B.Tech, a stream he jokingly describes as a risky choice since "many terrorist suspects are from a technical background", fears for the Muslim community. "Young educated people like me are being discriminated against by these events," he says.

The police are no longer seen as a protecting force. Worried parents call to say, "don't do loose talk," "idhar-udhar mat jana," and "don't roam after dusk."

Nightlife has come to a halt. No longer any bike rides to the ridge, detours to Noida, Sector 19, or midnight dinners at Comesum, Nizamuddin.

"We have even stopped going to the Community Centre where we used to hang out and oggle at New Friends Colony girls", Mr Husain complains.

The students have been advised to be careful of what they Google, and also not to share jokes through sms and e-mail.

Mr Rizvi, an aspiring journalist, is scared of carrying books on controversial themes like terrorism. "The police might think I'm keeping desh-drohi literature."

Another student found himself struggling with choices he never imagined before – should he hide his copy of Osama Bin Laden's biography in his hostel room or bury it in the garden?

Mr Safdar Ali, a final year MA student, simply pressed the delete button on all the films on Gujarat riots stored in his desktop. He also deleted Khuda ke Liye, the Pakistani blockbuster starring Naseeruddin Shah.

Curiously, Mr Shah Hafiz, a student from Imphal doesn't show nervousness. "I don't mind these things as it's the usual scene in my state Manipur," he says.

However, many are nervous about job prospects. "The recent events may affect our placement," says Mr Riaz. "We get companies like TCS, Satyam, L&T, and DLF but if they feel that hiring people from here creates a security risk, they might stop recruiting."

If anything good has emerged, post-encounter, it is that students from different regions, courses, religions, and income groups have come together in a joint sense of pride. "Earlier I didn't give a damn about my university," says Mr Husain. "But now when I see our Vice Chancellor, teachers and students joining forces to protect our honour, I feel proud of this place." "It's not religion that has united us," notes Mr Rizvi. "It's the insecurity."

You think we are terrorists?

Letter from Jamia Millia - One Night in the Boys' Hostel

Tense times

Letter from Jamia Millia - One Night in the Boys' Hostel

This too shall pass

Letter from Jamia Millia - One Night in the Boys' Hostel


Anonymous said...

"Tera naam Tauqeer hai, tu jaroor pakda jayega"

I had no idea Urdu is so poorly spoken right in the heart of Delhi.

Kartikey said...

Trust you'd go deeper into 'fears' and 'lives'.
The photo captions don't work for me.

Anonymous said...

i can feel this coz i am an amu alumni but we also have to think at least why only us not any body else are some way or other we are the farming grounds for these people

Anonymous said...


Thank you for posting this. Here in America we don't see these kinds of stories... I wished two colleagues here on a university campus "Eid Muhbarak" as I left campus this evening (did this Angrez spell that correctly?)

And, Mayank, I'm a big fan of your wonderful photos and your writing... keep up the good work, and "Eid Muhbarak" to you and yours.

in New York

Shyam said...

I dont this this univ is secular. Some time back i was watching Delhi vs. Mumbai cricket match at their stadium. I felt so alien as there was clearly anti-Hindu environment. Though they should have been supporting Delhi but all they could do was support just two players - Jaffer and Zahir.

Neyaz A. Farooquee said...

i disagree with my brother shayam. i too happened to b there when delhi vs mumbai match was going on. mumbai was playing 4th ining n they had to chase 181 on last day, which they chased successfully with just a single wicket down or perhaps without any loss, in which jaffer's contribution was 121 with 3 sixes. yes jaffer hit 3 sixes in single day. whom do u expect to be cheered for? yes, Sehwag n gambhir were there but only as a visitor as they had jst returned from national duty and their short appearnce there was enough for so called jaffer fans to go bersek, leaving behind jaffer in the field, for one look of sehwag n gambhir. u missed it perhaps. and zahir was not playing the match rather munaf was appearing in his 1st or 2nd frst class match, who was a sensation then, dubbed as indian brett lee, why not poeple cheer him? and delhi players were controversial ajay jadeja, discarded Nehra and akash chopra who scored in 20s n zero. yes they should have been cheerd but for what?

roopa said...

"jis desh mein ganga bahti hai -2
hum uos desh ke waasi hain - 2

yahaan nunon ka rape hota hai,
padhte bachchon pe case hota hai,

tu hindu nahi yehi mushkil hai,
ghut ghut ke marne ke kabil hai,

jis desh mein.....

Neyaz A. Farooquee said...

buddy i'm part of this university for more than 11 years and still I'm. but propaganda by a few due to suspected few has shattered me. i'm a secular student of this secular university and this inspiring campus has instilled more secularism in me but i dont know how to put it? how to prove my nationalism, if at all it ought to be? how shameless one can be when he questions its integrity n secularism when almost 40% of its students are non muslim, to be precise, hindus.
many of our best frnds are hindus. we share our laugh, sorrows n same plate for having lunch. most of us dont drink but we gladly accept the same glass from which a hindu has sipped, for that matter he is not a hindu there, im not a muslim there, simply we are frnds, belong to one india.
and see the irony, the same person, who was once darling of poeple when he supported salman rushdie, is suddenly an anti national. i'm talking about Padamshri Prof Mushirul Hasan

roopa said...

Aadi vasi yahaan ka jaanwar hai,
harijan keedde se badhtar hai,
sikh bass mazaaq ke kabil hai,
tu hindu nahi yeh hi mushkil hai,
jis desh.......

yeh gahri purani chaal hai,
karna neecha morale hai,
saari naukari, poston ki baath hai,
yeh laalach ka nanga naach hai.
jis desh....

mujhe kithna desh pe naaz hai, iske netha kitne pak hain
kitna meddha inka saaf hai
kitne roshan inke khayal hain.
jis desh mein.....

S Soorya Narayan said...

by putting "encounter " in quotes you are proving that you are no better than the Saudi stooge-Jamia VC .

Those who shot dead the brave Delhi police officer and also executed a series or devilish bomb blasts across the length and breadth of the country deserves no sympathy from any sane Indian citizen .

You are writing -"encounter" just to appease your core "vote bank" ahem "reader bank" ...

So just remember that it is a TRAVESTY to even suggest that the elimination of dreaded psychopathic Islamic mass murders was a staged attempt to defame the muslim community..

PS--- If u have some conscience you will change ur style of writing

Anonymous said...

"roopa" or whatever ur real name is muslim sister ,can u tanslate that poem into english because many south indians dont understand hindidsons

Sheena said...

Insecurity is to a certain extent an inevitable feeling in the minds of muslims, young n old alike, in times such as these when terms such as 'islamists', 'jihadists' n 'fundamenalists' are being used so rampantly n conveniently in the whole world.......let alone india. such terms, which lack even a definite definition are usd by everyone as synonyms of 'muslims'.
This insecurity, mind u is not with regard to their belief or their religion but more so towards the fact that merely by havin a muslim name or sporting a beard or an abaya places them under the suspicious n wary eyes of their own countrymen n friends.
people dont even understand wat theyre sayin wen they use these terms..... and thats y its worse coz even they are not sure as to wat theyre accusing u of being... One cannot deny the fact that muslims are involved in thes terrorist attacks....... but so are non muslims.. every community has its share of black sheep...... the whole community should not b painted with the same color.
i have to say, our country is in a sad state indeed if approx 40% of its pop(comprisin the muslim pop
) is feelin insecure or uncomfortable of its identity because of the deeds of a fraction of its pop especially since every child, right from nursery, is made aquaintd with the phrase "unity in diversity" when it comes to india.

nitin said...

all tears are reserved for poor terrorists n their overground supporters,1 malegaon = 1992 blasts + 2006blasts + 26/11 + 13th dec + sankatmochan blasts, a mosque razed; built by a non indian tyrants becomes the rallying point for islam, all bomb blasts are retributions for Babri & Gujrat explain what should be the retribution for Somnath, akshardham, J&K and murder of guru gobind singh's sons kindly reply as an Indian and not as Muslims

zuhaib said...

bro 26/11 ,kashmir etc. are nt genocides ,unlike gujrat riots in which only muslims were targetted n 26/11 and kashmir terrorism muslims hav also died alongwid hindus.i equally condemn both these type of acts...

Vishal said...

@ Neyaz: Why do you need to prove anything, nationalism or anything, you are not responsible for act of select few, its ur country, no need to justify anything, just keep doing what u hv been doing, dont let fear pshycosis enter ur mind, its all in ur mind.

@ Zuhaib: How would you describe systematic cleansing of Pandits from Kashmir.

@ Roopa: Consider this there not a SIngle muslim majority country in the world that provided non-muslims equal rights in their constitution, all of them define muslim religion as state religion. There are 3 Hindu majority countries in the world, India 82% Nepal 81%, Maritious 52% Hindus, all have secular consitution. Muslims have their own country, Christains have their own country, Hindus have no country in the world. Why? Why does not Hindus-majority countries act like Muslim majority countries? Becuase Hinduism is tolerant pacifist religion, belives in pluralism. Please stop complaining against Hindus cuz in India Hindus are mroe discriminated against as there are special previleges for muslims that Hindus do not have e.g. provision of minority institutes, special minority laws (no uniform code) - as opposed to bulk of muslim countries impose either Sharia or muslim like laws on non-muslims.

No point feeling agravated as all parties feel slighted and it only adds to more friction, missunderstanding, etc. Tolerance, peace, respect for eachother, not being ignited by isolated incidents, not coloring the whole community with same color due to act of some isolated incidents - these are the keys to peace, harmoney. I do not thik any one wants trouble from any side..........all live in as indians, resolve things via peaceful manners, peace will bring security, eventualy leading to financial security...........

Peace Be Up on all..........Tatha Astu, So Be Tt, Insah Allah