A new wave of solidarity of the oppressed is emerging in New Delhi. Emerging as a symbol of Dalit-Muslim unity, the mothers of Rohit Vemula, a Dalit scholar who was found hanging in his hostel in Hyderabad Central University in January 2016; Najeeb, a Jawaharlal Nehru University student of biotechnology who disappeared under mysterious circumstances soon after being allegedly assaulted by members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad; and Junaid, a 15-year-old Quran scholar who was lynched aboard a train near Delhi, came together for a march to Parliament organised under the aegis of United Against Hate.
The three women raised slogans and held Prime Minister Narendra Modi responsible for the death of two boys and the disappearance of one. Supported by scores of social activists and students, they predicted that the days of the ruling dispensation were numbered and said the electorate would throw out the BJP “for turning a blind eye to the murder of the nation's future”.
Challenging the government to a debate on its oft-touted slogan Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas , Fatima Nafees, mother of Najeeb, said, “The CBI is just a tool in the hands of the government. I challenge their closure report.” Incidentally, the CBI had earlier in October filed a closure report in the Najeeb case two years after he was reported missing on October 16, 2016. On October 8, the Delhi High Court disposed of her petition and permitted the CBI to file a closure report. The argument was that before the CBI, the Delhi Police had failed to make headway even nine months after taking up the investigation. Following this the CBI was given the responsibility. It too failed to crack the case.
Fatima got spirited support from the mothers of Junaid and Vemula. Clad in a black burqa, Junaid’s mother, Saira Bano, addressed the gathering at Jantar Mantar and revealed that more than two years after he was lynched on the way home the family was yet to get justice. “Modi has hurt us. All the accused in the lynching of Junaid are roaming free. We will fight for justice till the last drop of blood.” Slamming lynching in the name of the cow, she stated, “The cow is only an excuse. The agenda is to divide us.”
Radhika Vemula termed the BJP government as “worse than the British”. “This government is bent on oppressing the marginalised, the oppressed. Since the BJP came to power, oppression of Dalits, Muslims, and women has increased. I urge the student community and all the oppressed sections to unite to oust this government in the next general election.”
Students from JNU, Delhi University and Jamia Millia Islamia participated. Holding placards and banners asking for a ban on communal forces, they pledged to continue the fight for justice. Importantly, they drew the media’s attention to the disappearance of Majid, a young man from Gujarat. He was, they said, picked up by the police in Bhuj on July 19 and since then nothing was known about him.