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.

51hK0ZY+nML._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_
Jamia and Gandhi

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.

220px-The_Story_of_My_Experiments_with_TruthA 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.”

While countrywide protests wrack India over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and writer Shireen Dalvi  and Yakoob Yawar returned their state level Sahitya Akademi awards, a Hong Kong poet empathetic of the student protest caused distress within the family, one of who also happens to be a high profile government official.

IMG_2454.jpgDalvi was given an award in 2011 by the state of Maharashtra. From the media, she tweeted, “I am saddened and shocked by the news that the BJP led government has passed CAB ( Citizen amendment Bill), an attack on our constitution and secularism and in protest against this inhuman law I am announcing that I would return my State Sahitya Akademi Award…”

Yawar, 67, returned the Uttar Pradesh award state for translation saying in a report, “I have been scared watching the parliamentary debate. As an old man what else can I do about this Bill that is creating such unrest? I decided to return this award and do my duty.”