New Delhi: On December 15, the Delhi Police forcefully entered Jamia Millia Islamia University and unleashed violence on students who were protesting the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. Soon after, videos of teargassing from inside the college’s central library and elsewhere surfaced on social media.
Enraged, hundreds of students, activists and common people gathered at Delhi Police’s headquarter in ITO to condemn violence against the Jamia students. They also demanded the immediate release of the more than 50 students who were detained. The students were released a day later.
As night gave into day, protests broke out across campuses in India, stirring most on social media to voice solidarity with the students. Several film actors, directors, and authors took to Twitter to comment on the series of incidents. While some outrightly condemned attacks on students, others kept themselves at a safe distance by trying to give a balanced view on the matter.
Actors and directors
One of the biggest names to condemn the violence was American actor John Cusack, who on Sunday, took to Twitter to call the university a “war zone” as the reports came in.
Reports from Delhi are it was a war zone last night –
Fascism is not a joke – we use the word with the understanding it’s deadly
— John Cusack (@johncusack) December 16, 2019
Cusack is politically active and had earlier met whistleblower Edward Snowden with one of the current dispensation’s vocal critics, Arundhati Roy.
Stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters and students in solidarity being brutalized by modi pic.twitter.com/aPEFOcexsw
— John Cusack (@johncusack) December 16, 2019
Similarly, Bollywood film director Anubhav Sinha, who made the film Article 15 which deals with caste issues in the heartland, also spoke against the violence meted out against the students. Sinha has been sharing details on campus protests elsewhere and appealing to others from the film fraternity to speak up.
When no one has the answers, students do. Look at history worldwide.
— Anubhav Sinha (@anubhavsinha) December 15, 2019
Director Anurag Kashyap, who had quit Twitter earlier this year, broke his silence to call out police brutality.
This has gone too far.. can’t stay silent any longer . This government is clearly fascist .. and it makes me angry to see voices that can actually make a difference stay quiet ..
— Anurag Kashyap (@anuragkashyap72) December 16, 2019
Actors like Richa Chaddha, Sayani Gupta and Zeeshan Ayyub were among the first to talk about the protest and the violence.
On behalf of the students of Jamia & AMU request at least one of you to tweet or message Mr.Modi condemning this act of police brutality and violence against students. The time has come to speak up guys. Yes? No? May be?@RanveerOfficial @karanjohar @ayushmannk @RajkummarRao pic.twitter.com/6l5ky5zbNt
— Sayani Gupta (@sayanigupta) December 15, 2019
Ayyub has not only been vocal on Twitter about the issue but also went to Jamia to extend his support to the students.
In solidarity with the students of India. https://t.co/0cGYjAHjbz
— TheRichaChadha (@RichaChadha) December 16, 2019
दोस्तों, दिल्ली में जो हो रहा है बताइए। मैं शामिल होने की कोशिश करूँगा। अभी जामिया जा रहा हूँ।#Insolidaritywithstudents
— Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub (@Mdzeeshanayyub) December 16, 2019
By nightfall, the dam was open and support poured out from A-list actors and directors – among them Taapsee Pannu, Soni Razdan, Pooja Bhatt, Alankrita Shrivastav, Manoj Vajpayee, Ali Fazal, Kubbra Sait, Ayushmann Khurrana, Rajkumar Rao, Dia Mirza, Vikrant Massey and Huma Qureshi.
Wonder if this is a start or the end. Whatever it is, this is surely writing new rules of the land and those who don’t fit in can very well see the consequences.
This video breaks heart n hopes all together. Irreversible damage,and I’m not talking about just the life n property https://t.co/QGaZYpDCR6
— taapsee pannu (@taapsee) December 16, 2019
This young student was to give her exam today on the Constitution. Oh the irony ! https://t.co/vcyybBAoHs
— Soni Razdan (@Soni_Razdan) December 16, 2019
To speak with silence when we should protest is what makes cowards out of men. India is burning. One can’t be mute anymore.
— Pooja Bhatt (@PoojaB1972) December 16, 2019
Nothing can justify what has happened to the students. The broken legs, the lost eye, the assaults in the darkness, the barbaric beating up of the innocent, the vandalising of a space of learning, the invasion of the student hostels. History will remember.
— Alankrita Shrivastava (@alankrita601) December 16, 2019
There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.
With the students and their democratic rights to protest ! I condemn violence against protesting students!!!!!
— manoj bajpayee (@BajpayeeManoj) December 16, 2019
How is the #CAA2019 , affecting me?
need to revisit the constitution of India. Need to realise and understand that this country is great, based on the fact that we have embraced secularism like no one else. If we fail that, we fail as a whole.#CAAProtests
— Kubbra Sait (@KubbraSait) December 16, 2019
We haven’t forgotten our roots.
— Vikrant Massey (@masseysahib) December 15, 2019
This is unreal. We are a secular democracy. This violence that the police have shown in dealing with the students is terrible. Citizens have the right to peacefully protest. @narendramodi @AmitShah Or that is not an option anymore ??
— Huma Qureshi (@humasqureshi) December 16, 2019
Its funny,i felt hey ali lets play it safe all these years. And now i cant. a lot of my colleagues may not speak up at all.But i pray we all realise there is no job no career above humanity. socho, aur time kam hai toh act fast.irrespective of your political ideologies right now
— Ali Fazal M / میر علی فضل / अली (@alifazal9) December 16, 2019
We are with the students! Shame on you @DelhiPolice
— Konkona Sensharma (@konkonas) December 15, 2019
I stand in solidarity with the students of India. pic.twitter.com/OCl8gH276B
— Dia Mirza (@deespeak) December 16, 2019
Violence is not a tool to make our country better. We are a democracy and we have the power to exercise our fundamental rights in a rightful manner. What the students faced has shaken me and my heart goes out to them and I protest the way the situation was handled.
— bhumi pednekar (@bhumipednekar) December 16, 2019
If this is what’s gonna happen everytime a citizen expresses their view, forget #CAB, we should pass a bill and not call our country a democracy anymore! Beating up innocent human beings for speaking their mind? BARBARIC.
— Parineeti Chopra (@ParineetiChopra) December 17, 2019
While there are iconic actors like Amitabh Bacchan, Salman Khan or Shah Rukh Khan (an alumnus of Jamia Millia Islamia) who haven’t spoken up on the issue, there are some who were careful to balance their support with a statement against the destruction of public property.
What is happening is not okay. The way it’s happening is not okay. People have every right to peacefully voice their opinion. This violence and disruption is both saddening and concerning as a fellow citizen. In no circumstance, must our faith in democracy be shaken. ??
— Vicky Kaushal (@vickykaushal09) December 16, 2019
I strongly condemn the violence that the police have shown in dealing with the students. In a democracy the citizens have the right to peacefully protest.I also condemn any kind of act of destruction of the public properties. Violence is not the solution for anything!
— Rajkummar Rao (@RajkummarRao) December 16, 2019
This!?? ?? pic.twitter.com/X8qj9sCdEO
— Ayushmann Khurrana (@ayushmannk) December 16, 2019
Akshay Kumar, who takes a pro-BJP government stance on a host of issues these days, ended up apologising for liking a tweet, much to the ridicule of his critics on social media.
Regarding the ‘like’ on the tweet of Jamia Milia students, it was by mistake. I was scrolling and accidentally it must have been pressed and when I realised I immediately unliked it as In no way do I support such acts.
— Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar) December 16, 2019
I have immense respect for Akshay Kumar. It must be extremely difficult to be trained in Martial Arts with a spine missing. https://t.co/J5Cwk3hyHY
— Keyur (@Keyuratedtweets) December 16, 2019
Film industry (south)
From the southern film fraternity, Parvathy Thiruvothu and Siddharth were the usual suspects who tweeted in support of students in Jamia and campus protests elsewhere in the country. Both the actors, otherwise too, are quite vocal about political and gender-based injustices.
— Parvathy Thiruvothu (@parvatweets) December 16, 2019
— Siddharth (@Actor_Siddharth) December 16, 2019
Actors like Rima Kallingal, Kunchacko Boban, Prithviraj, Indrajith, Dulquer Salman and Tovino Thomas from the Malayalam film industry have also lent support to the those protesting the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the News Minute reported.
Best-selling authors like Chetan Bhagat and Ravindra Singh have also spoken in the favour of the students. Bhagat’s stance is particularly notable, considering that he is usually an ardent supporter of the ruling party and its stance.
The youth is angry. There are not enough jobs. Salaries are low. Don’t mess with them. The first priority should be to lift the economy back again.
— Chetan Bhagat (@chetan_bhagat) December 16, 2019
— Ravinder Singh (@_RavinderSingh_) December 17, 2019