To Whom It May Concern | Sharjeel Usmani

nullA day before, a journalist who happens to be a Muslim, was labeled an ISIS sympathizer on a television debate to which the Aligarh is silent. We see murders and we’re silent. We see fund cuts and we’re silent. I wonder, if our silence is to prove the height of tolerance to the nation.

It seriously doesn’t matter to which lobby or region you belong. The only thing that matters is that you’re an Alig. Today, I write to you because I feel it is the time I should write to you about your, of course, descendant (Me).  I am the third generation of my family who got the opportunity to taste the richness of being an Alig. Since, being a part of all-Aligarh-people’s family, I had the privilege to know about its glorified culture, practices and pride. I remember how my father’s eyes glistened when he, while teaching me Urdu, came to know that my Urdu book had a chapter on Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. I remember how much pride he took in telling us the stories of Aligarh Muslim University.

I had, since all my childhood, dreamed of being a part of this institution. After passing my high-school, by Allah’s grace, I was given a chance to live up those proud moments which my father and fore-fathers had earlier lived. Things and dreams and lives, after getting here, changed completely opposite to the way I had dreamed of.

I’m not sure if my children would ever see those glitters in my eyes which I had seen in my father’s eyes. Nevertheless, every single day, I try to live this place to my heart and yet every day I end up hating this place even more.  There are couple of incidents which shook me to hell and provoked me to write this letter. As an Indian, I’ve been taught; told and fed that India is place that celebrates ‘unity in diversity’.  This illusion (since I’m an Alig now) was shattered as soon as I came to know how regionalism, petty politics and favoritism prevailed on the campus and I witnessed the ‘individuality in unity’.

For the very first time in my life, I could see people, who called themselves students, using guns in their fights. Initially, it was all shocking as well as horrible to witness my fellow students firing bullets on their counterparts. Nobody (the older students), ever, complained or even moaned against this crime. Later, with the passage of time, I was acclimatized to believe that it was no crime to fire bullets on your fellow students. Firing bullets became a ‘normal’ thing for us!

I remember how once, one of my seniors, was beaten badly and even had to bear bullets, just because he had applied for a hall post. If you, by now, don’t get your hairs raised, then it’s my duty to tell you that I went to complain against those goons only to find them smoking in the proctor’s office like a boss.  Yet, my fellow Aligs (except a few) never gave a damn to this.

People ask me for my contribution in making this campus a better place. They ask it often and every time I criticize them. To their question, I haven’t done anything for the betterment of this campus but I was a part of anything and everything constructive done in the campus, is my answer. I had heard and read that Aligarh wasn’t a place; it was a movement that lifted and brought light to people’s life. It was a gift for the victimized Muslim community of the country. However, each and every time, the Muslims were attacked, the campus failed to rise up against the wrongdoers and the fascist powers.

This, Aligarh community talked about unity, but had never ever, showed the unity which it boasted of. None of the students were interested to fight for the other one being harassed. Everybody had a problem to the solutions proposed.  NGOs, paper cuttings, news-links are all they die for.

Meanwhile in between all these misery, dreadful condition of existence, there lived a few people who cared for humanity and showed me the value lost in my eyes of being an Alig. Apart from those few, majority of them had a word of teaching on slippers, dress code and seniority. I always wished to talk about those few real Aligs, but couldn’t surpass the majority.

This institution has given me everything. The way my thoughts are mould, the way I write and way I act are all due to this place. This place was an inspiration for me. It is, now, a place ruled by self centric people who manipulate the common students for their personal benefits with the help of a few corrupt seniors. I feel great when somebody talk about how our ancestors had broken up the government’s unjust rules and how they always stood up for the right. I must feel great about that. Everybody here feels great about that. The irony, here is, that nobody wants to be like them. Nobody wants to live the life you people had had once lived. Yet, all of them boast about your deeds in their speeches only to play with our emotions and feelings towards this institution.

A day before, a journalist who happens to be a Muslim, was labeled an ISIS sympathizer on a television debate to which the Aligarh is silent. A member of parliament, accused of riots, is made a court member of the University and we’re silent. We see murders and we’re silent. We see fund cuts and we’re silent. We see Muslim youths detained for fake terror charges and we’re silent. We see Kashmir and we’re silent. We see Dadri and we’re silent. We see debates on our minority character and we’re silent. We’re silent and we’re silent.  Sometimes ago there was huge controversy on increasing intolerance in the country to which I shall say that people should visit our campus to see the level of tolerance we practice. I wonder, if our silence is to prove the height of tolerance to the nation.

Through all this, we have wondered, that our seniors and we think –as we do- that our Vice Chancellor, our administration, our seniors, our professors and we think. Do you approve, that closing down of library before twelve will improve the wrongdoings of our campus or emptying our room before vacations would solve our problems or creating a new lobby over elitism will do something better for us?

Is it not a fact that a student here is bounded on the name of University’s honor to speak up against its defective policies? We’re told that speaking up against these policies would ruin the image of our university and the sad part is that every newspaper, for the opportunity they get, always writes about our untoward acts.

Aligs, it’s a high time to stand up against these ill-happenings and the people who are accounted for that. University is a place where brains are made and lives are turned only to change. We are responsible for our acts, our present and shall be held for our future too.

Views expressed by the author are personal.
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Sharjeel Usmani

Sharjeel Usmani is a student of Diploma in Engineering at Aligarh Muslim University. He hails from Azamgarh and has completed his schooling at his hometown. He is also involved in students' rights activism. Although an engineering student, his areas of interest are journalism and literature.