By Shishir Tripathi and Tarique Anwar
As Umar Khalid came out of the administrative block with a cigarette in his hand and a shawl thrown carelessly over his shoulder he was asked by a friend what will happen now. He replied with a smile and an air of extreme conviction, "Let’s see how things unfold.”
As he got in the car with Anirban Bhattacharya and other supporters, surrounded by media, students made every effort to stop the TV news channels chasing their comrade. A human chain was formed by the student supporters and media vehicles were not allowed to move an inch from the road outside the administrative block. As the two accused left the campus for the ‘unknown location’ students started raising slogans in favour of the two and against the government action of arresting the JNUSU leader Kanhaiya Kumar and slapping other students with sedition charges.
Soon after the two left, the atmosphere at otherwise vibrant campus, was sombre and filled with brimming emotions. The students were seen in tears, with their seniors and teachers assuring them of the safety and safe return of their fellow-comrades.
“Our friends who just till few days ago used to sit and debate with us, with some very sharp disagreements, have been treated like criminals. Media continuously interrogating them on when would they surrender, now they have done it. We are not cowards but we are not criminals also. We are concerned about our well being. So we wanted assurance from the authorities before we could have allowed our friends to surrender”, remarked a student who said that on Tuesday night he wanted to be recognised only as a JNU student and not by his name.
Talking to Rama Naga, one of the five accused, it becomes clear how miserably the university administration failed to protect their students, whose mistake, if any, was of an youthful idealism that drags many of us in dream of building an utopia, a world without ‘vulgar disparities’.
Another student while raising slogans, “comrade Kanhaiya ko lal salam” asserted, “You know many of us get a monthly allowance that sometime equals to the bills paid by some of the rich brats at one of the upscale eating joints. We have a context to be attracted towards left, to question the state and its discriminatory policies. We come from a place where all promises of inclusive development looks like sham, a joke by a non-caring state. That does not make us terrorist or anti-national”.
While the surrender of Khalid and Bhattacharya made the atmosphere in the campus sombre, just few hours later the administrative block was filled with laughter as the JNUSU vice president Shehla Rashid took up the mike to address the student.
“They say that some of the girls protesting here are worst then prostitutes, but we are not offended. We never felt that prostitutes are even bad, let alone being worst," she was referring to a tweet by Jawahar Yadav, former officer on special duty to Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, in which he remarked: “ For the girls who are protesting in JNU, I only have one thing to say that prostitutes who sell their body are better than them because they at least don't sell their country".
She added, "A BJP MLA today gave the long list of things found in JNU. According to him 3000 condoms and 3000 liquor bottles are found everyday in the campus. We really pity such people who have to dig the dustbins of every hostels and accommodation here to look for used condoms and beer bottle”
The students were trying to deal with the tragedy that has stuck their campus with humour, but listening to any of them revealed the pain that they are carrying since the events that unfolded on 9 February.