The phones in my house are continuously ringing. Worried friends and family want to know whether we’re okay or not.
“We’re safe, we’re safe,” my parents repeat as my little sister asks over and over again, “What is happening to all the didis and bhaiyas?”
But I’m stuck in a memory from over ten years ago.
I was three when I shifted to the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus after my father was appointed as a professor here. I’m shocked at the contrast between then and now. That was a daydream, a reverie. Even with the eyes of a child, I could see the pride the campus held in its beauty, nature, education, and most of all its students, their great ideas and a healthy political environment.
But today, when my adolescent eyes look around, all I see is scepticism, fear and violence. Once, students were the centre of this institution, their safety, security, freedom and education was foremost in the minds of the administration.
They still are at the centre, no doubt, but unfortunately this centre is subject to violence, threats and beatings – maybe initiated with the aid of some other ‘Centre’.
But I’ll not say much because everyone is in danger, even teachers are getting beaten.
Maybe their children will be next. Maybe I will be next.
Masked men came and destroyed everything – from cars to bikes to hostel doors and windows, making me wonder where those people who protested for the safety of public property are.
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We called the police. They never arrived but I must remind you that they were omnipresent here when students protested. Some say they waited for permission to enter the premises. But where was this courtesy when they entered the campus of Jamia Milia Islamia on December 15?
Maybe they have different norms when they’re instigating violence and when they have to prevent violence. Or maybe they relied on campus security – the guards who were my best friends growing up. Whose children are helped by groups of students. Who say the campus is like their home and students like their children.
But somehow they weren’t present or within sight too.
Only for those few hours, only in that area.
All that was there were goons, rods, sticks, unarmed students and screams of fear.
Now the doors to my house are closed and I’ve been told not to roam around the campus or talk to students anymore. Because the goons covered their faces and mixed with the students. I might have to skip school tomorrow because a teacher was given threats that the masked men will return.
My relatives are now more sure than ever that my father should find another job because the prestige of teaching at JNU is not greater than putting the family at risk.
The commotion and chaos continues outside my house. Some students are bleeding, some are leaving, some are protesting and some are crying. Many others don’t know what to do.
Scared parents want their children back home. Scared students want their university back.
But all I can do is watch the campus getting destroyed.
My home is getting destroyed.
The writer is a 16-year-old in Class 11 who has lived on the JNU campus for more than a decade.
Illustration: Pariplab Chakraborty