Author Nehal Ahmad talks about his book on CAA, resistance through art and what lies ahead for Muslims in India

Doctoral student at Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi, Nehal Ahmed documented everything that he witnessed in form of a book. | Picture by arrangement

Nehal Ahmed is a doctoral student at the Academy of International Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. His first book book Nothing Will Be Forgotten (published by LeftWord) is a student’s account of the large-scale protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and acts of resistance by students at his university. In an email interview with, Nehal talks about his book, his early memories of the protest, and what changes have the anti-CAA protests brought among the Muslims in India. 

TCN Staff Reporter

Support TwoCircles

Why this title?
This title is inspired by Amir Aziz’s poem ‘Sab Kuch Yaad Rakha Jayega (Everything Will Be Remembered)’. During the anti-CAA protests, a lot of things became popular including graffiti, songs, slogans etc. Amir Aziz’s poem was one such poem and song and it has become a catchword during the agitation. It was featured in many places. As a writer, I thought to use something like that which reflects the protest.

Cover picture of the book written by Nehal Ahmed. | Picture: LeftWord Books

It has been two years since the protests happened. What do you think has changed since then?
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the protest ended and nothing substantial has changed. However, one thing which I notice has changed is that the Muslim community has become more politicised. Previously, the Muslim community were always treated as a safe vote bank for secular parties but since the anti-CAA protests, I noticed that the community is now politically opinionated.

Given the current political scenario, did you censor some parts while writing different drafts of the book?
Not really. As a student of the University, I was there and saw everything. I just documented what I saw there.

Which chapter in the book do you think is the strongest and why?
There is a chapter called Resistance Through Art, which I believe is one of the strongest and most important chapters. It is because art is never taken as a very serious activity in our society. But during the anti-CAA protests, art was being used as an important part of the protest. There are several mediums of registering your protest and we keep using the traditional method but this protest through art taught us to use different methods of resistance. Poems, songs, graffiti, and libraries played a very important role.

Any account (personal story) that left you deeply disturbed?
Many such stories disturbed me. I think the video footage of the attack on the library at Jamia deeply disturbed me. The next morning I went to the library and saw everything had been broken and damaged. The place I used to sit and study had been broken. I felt that deeply. In Jamia, I spent most of my time in the library and I have a very special relationship with the library. It is the reason I still feel bad about it. 

Tell us about the impact of the anti-CAA agitation on you as an individual?
For many years I heard about the term “Idea of India” but during the anti-CAA protests, I saw and experienced it for the first time.