It is a fine afternoon at the campus of Jamia Millia Islamia. I can see the upcoming batch of students flocking to the campus to complete their admission formalities. As I walk further into the campus, the familiar walls of different departments look unfamiliar today.
The walls, painted with bright colours of resistance that would seek the attention of an onlooker, are no longer alive. The last remaining slogans and graffitis of the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act movement have all been defaced.
“The slogans and graffiti inside the campus are not just mere slogans. They are the voices of students and their resistance against oppression. If the campus would have been functioning, the students would never let this happen,” says 23-year-old Arbab Ali, an alumnus of Jamia’s history department who was visiting the campus for three days.
“To me, it shows which side the university administration is on,” he adds.
It is not only Ali – who was an active participant in the anti-CAA movement last year – but other students who see this as an act of distrust. A final semester student at Jamia’s MCRC who chose to remain anonymous alleges the university administration of portraying things falsely and sees it as an attempt to suppress dissent.
“Art is a form of resistance and we students are left with only this to express our thoughts. By removing this, they want to show that everything is normal? But is it? Jamia has a history of taking a stand for rights. And the administration wants to clear those shreds of evidence of history,” he says.
The university had reportedly said that the remnants of the protest were being erased for the upcoming NAAC accreditation and assessment. Last year in March, after the students had called off its sit-in protest against the new citizenship law in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the Delhi Police had covered up almost all the graffiti outside the campus and a few inside.
This photo feature shows how the university administration is trying to quell the resistance.
Ashish Kumar Kataria is a freelance documentary photographer based in Gurugram. He can be reached on Instagram @ashishkumarkataria.
All images have been provided by the author