15 December 2019 was the darkest day of my life. On this day, the Delhi police entered our campus and beat us like animals.’ These lines from the introduction of Nehal Ahmed’s new book Nothing will be Forgotten transport our minds to the day when the University campus was turned into a warzone. Students were labelled terrorists. Gory visuals still refuse to leave our minds. A peaceful protest culminating in students running for their lives. Police rampaging through reading rooms and libraries, hunting for students like a pack of wolves. Students being dragged out, beaten and driven away for fun. Foreheads dripping with blood, limbs broken and belief in the ethos of constitutional values coming shattering down for all the hapless students. After more than two years, the psychological wounds remain unhealed. The trauma remains unaddressed.
Ahmed’s book revisits this horrific day when students of Jamia Millia Islamia chose to raise their voices against the blatantly unconstitutional Citizenship Amendment Act. This act made provisions for granting legal citizenship to ‘illegal migrants’ belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Parsi, Buddhist and Christian communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Muslims were deemed outsiders even among ‘illegal migrants’. This sparked a national outburst against religious discrimination, the heartbeat of which was Jamia. Nehal Ahmed, then a PhD student at Jamia, gives a heart-wrenching eyewitness account of what transpired in those two days and how the students rallied back to respond to violence and hatred with love, peace, poetry and painting.