The Jamia Library which ironically completed its centenary in 2019 and is named after Dr Zakir Hussain, the third President of India, was shut down after the violence on 15th December, 2019, where the police beat up and tear gassed protesters.
About six days later, on December 24th, two student decided to set up a makeshift library outside the premises. Sahil Ahmed and Tanya Sablok named the library ‘Read for Revolution’. They began by reading aloud books on Satyagrah (civil resistance based on holding on to truth) and Hindu-Muslim unity. They read from books like Hind Swaraj, Jamia Aur Gandhi (Jamia and Gandhi), and The Constitution.
“We wanted to have a non-violent Gandhian way of protesting,” Ahmed said in a report in The Hindu. Ahmed is doing a master’s degree in Peace and Conflict. Many students, artists and citizens gather to spend time reading at this library on the pavement. The books are often stacked on the boundary wall and the readers sit on mattresses on the ground and read.
A student called Abdul Rashid, who was reading Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography, My Experiments with Truth, said in a report to The Citizen: “We cannot win this battle by violence. How can we even counter the state violence inflicted upon us? We are barehanded while the police are equipped with all kinds of weapons. So, the best way is to come out in large numbers and protest peacefully, sing songs, chant slogans and read books. The government will have to bow down if we keep protesting for our rights.”
He added, “Mahatma Gandhi’s message was to live with honesty and fight with the means of non-violence. We are following his path. We will fight till we can. This is our peaceful war against the illiterate government.”
The Jamia library continues closed after it was vandalised during the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) during the police outbreak on the protests last month. But readers continue to express their protest by reading outside the library. One such reader, Hashmat Naiyareen, who wanted to finish her masters and then go abroad to study journalism till a month ago, said, “I always wanted to go abroad and be a good journalist. I’ve now decided not to leave until I make this country right. I don’t want to leave my country in such a plight.”
Read how more students and citizens carry on this campaign in this report in the Telegraph.
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