Kawalpreet Kaur


My family was affected and their lives were turned upside down in the 1984 massacre. Although I wasn’t born then, the traumas became an intrinsic part of how I was raised. There wasn’t a single memory that triggered something. I was witness to many fears, insecurities & instabilities. It was a continuous phenomenon. Their pain and suffering shaped me as I am today. In India, we don’t particularly value how the memories and experiences of the previous generation affects the next one. For example, the memories of partition shaped my father & the memories of the riots shaped me.

When I came to college, I was exposed to different types of people, belonging to diverse backgrounds. My knowledge of women & their issues expanded as I started to understand intersectionality- how the experience of a Dalit woman are considerably different from a Brahmin woman and so on. Honestly, studying in a public university made me value diversity. Frankly, this is only possible in universities like Delhi University, Jamia Millia, Jawaharlal Nehru University, which are welcoming of people from marginalised sections. They get the opportunity of not just studying but sharing their life experiences. It also made me realise why it is important to save public institutions. If universities are privatised, then a person like me can’t access the quality and level of education I can right now.

My association with AISA began in 2nd year of college, when I attended a programme called  ‘Love Azad’, a play on love jihad. It was a discussion on how society treats women & their choices. That play really resonated with me. I started sitting in AISA protests and eventually went on to contest DUSU elections. DU is a very mainstream campus in the sense that the student union elections are are very similar to real elections, where money and muscle rule are more important than issues. Despite that, AISA managed to become a major contender in DU.

Recently, my name came up in the chargesheet for the so called Delhi riots conspiracy. We were just part of demonstrations in solidarity. It is extremely disturbing but also ironic that someone who belongs to a family of riot survivors is being painted as someone part of a conspiracy to unleash violence. The chargesheet is bizarre as it is completely fabricated & meant to instil fear in people. The dispensation wants to portray people who stood with the Muslims as villains, as it is unable to digest that the protests led by wonderful and brave Muslim women was organic.

I do not know what the future holds for me but I shall continue to raise my voice for others. So many of my professors who have influenced me deeply are under arrest and for some, it is imminent. But people who speak out inspire me and no amount of intimidation can scare me. I cannot imagine living in a society that doesn’t value human life and this is what drives me. It is very important to talk about the trauma structured-violence can inflict and how the state can become mute when injustices are meted out to some. I hope that in the future, we have a place for Ambedkar, communal harmony and acceptance in our country.

Humans of Democracy