19th January has been a dark day in Indian history, marking the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in 1990 after increasing attacks by Islamist insurgents. This day has hence been remembered by the country as a mark of respect to the community but has also been extremely politicised, mostly by the far-Right in various ways.
One example of this can be what went down this Monday at Hindu College. Like many other parts of the country, the protests against the ruling government’s controversial Citizenship Amendment Act are in full swing especially among the student community in Delhi.
Similarly, groups of students had planned to hold their march in solidarity to these protests, and a reading of the Preamble. By last Saturday, word began to be circulated so that other students of Hindu College would also know about the march that would start from the College’s New Academic Block (also called the Science Block) and cover the rest of the college too.
Coincidentally, by Sunday (19th January), a poster was being circulated regarding a gathering in memory of the tragic mass displacement of Kashmiri pandits at the Science Block on the same day, just half an hour before the march.
These two gatherings clearly felt to be organised by different sets of students. Controversy arose with a recent video featuring Deepika Sharma, a student from the college. She was at the talk on the Kashmiri pundits’ exodus at the Science block. According to what she said in social media, she was heckled by the participants of the other march.
The video of this has been misinterpreted and shared by various platforms like OpIndia, Swarajya, and The Logical Indian and some celebrities like director Vivek Agnihotri. Such sources allege that ‘leftist goons heckled and shouted at her’. In the video, you can hear ‘Islamophobia’ being shouted in the background by protestors. But here’s the truth behind it from ground reports at Hindu itself.
First of all, calling the protestors ‘leftist goons’ is a very basic stereotype and a false claim. For the truth is that not a single Left-aligned poster or flag (with allegiance to any Leftist student body like AISA and SFI) was raised. The students in the march and Preamble-reading had gathered as students of the college, and not representing a particular political front.
Second, the slogans regarding the current government being Islamophobic were not meant to bring down the talk on Kashmiri pandits at all. These slogans were raised, solely for the students’ own dissent. These were students. Not goons.
Some of the protestors do feel that they could have silenced the volume of their slogans a little as they passed through the side of the Science Block where the other talk was happening. But before this issue gets further politicised, what needs to be understood is that this protest was anti-CAA and by no means, anti-Kashmiri Pandits or anti-Hindu as other sources or Deepika Sharma might misinterpret it.
In fact, as you can see in the image featured above, the posters used by the protestors also tried to evoke empathy for the pandits. This protest didn’t seem to have been pro/anti towards any religion or community.
So, one needs to go through the contexts of both these gatherings again before jumping to conclusions. A close analysis will tell you that the claim of ‘one girl battling the heckling of Leftist goons’ is an exaggerated misinterpretation of an unintentional clash of events.
Image Credits: Himanshu Singh and Abhiram
Shaurya Singh Thapa