This article was submitted to us by Sriya Sridhar, whose love for traveling and music is exceeded only by her love for Tea. Look out for her contributions every weekend, right here on Ergo.
As I write this, I’m looking out of a window. I see some people I know, I see our pretty lawn, and I see the blue uniforms of the RAF Personnel that have been staying on our campus for the last 2 weeks.
The Jaat agitation on the issue of reservation shook Haryana two weeks ago, with violence leading to damage, injury and senseless death. While the implications of this riot, the subsequent actions of the government and the larger conversation about the political atmosphere definitely need to be discussed, that isn’t the subject of this article. (I do hope however, that it will be the subject of many others.)
Here in Sonipat the riots seemed far away somehow, because our campus is known for its level of security. The evening before the situation got serious, I was sitting in an office with a lovely team of people, working on the final touches to TEDxJGU, which was scheduled to take place 2 days later. One of our speakers was arriving that night, with two members of our team. When they called us to let us know that NH1 had been blocked, we realized that it was more real than we had initially thought.
The next day, that is Saturday, campus was under lockdown. Students were not allowed to leave as the scenario grew worse outside. And that evening, my team and I sent out sombre emails about the postponement of TEDx.
We hoped that Sunday would bring news of calm, of normalcy. Instead, choppers landed on campus and in came the army personnel. Before we knew it, we were sent back to our hostels. There were rumours of someone trying to break into the Boys’ Hostel, and we were told to keep our lights off. The boys were shifted to the academic block where they had to spend the night in classrooms and auditoriums. Needless to say, we all worried about each other.
But the administration, the Student Council, our seniors, and every member of college pitched in to run 2 days of lockdown with the utmost efficiency. From constant updates on social media to people volunteering in the mess to giving people in classrooms extra blankets, JGU worked together with the kind of co-operation, professionalism and care for others that made each and every one of us so happy to be here. (Well sure we wanted to be out of riot zone but you get the drift).
The next day saw everyone going home. Again, students and admin got together to organize transport on a large scale, assuring a safe journey outside college for each student. And all this while keeping worried parents informed about the situation. When I went off campus to Delhi the day after, I was glad to be safe and sound. But more than anything, I think I speak for most when I say that I’m going to look back on this incident with a sense of pride and be thankful that I got to experience what people coming together can achieve.
I know that this is a very simple narrative of the entire incident, but this is deliberate. As everything unfolded, there was a lot of rumour-mongering and sensationalization, like this one article in Legally India which made the entire thing seem like a movie. It was a huge logistical endeavour and we did face a supply shortage, but we were not ‘expatriated’, nor did we face anything too harrowing.
We, as a university came out of this discovering what our capabilities are, what to do in a crisis, how to deal with setbacks maturely and most importantly, with a renewed sense of community.
When my parents called from across the country, concerned about what they were seeing in the news, I just told them not to worry. Because the way things were handled was absolutely remarkable and because no matter what, this is home.
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