On January 5, masked persons allegedly belonging to the ABVP and RSS resorted to a brutal attack on the students and faculties inside the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus in New Delhi. As soon as the news spread, various political parties, students communities, democratic organisations, civil rights activists, central trade unions, etc. across the country have expressed their solidarity with the JNU community and condemned the planned violence.
The people, masked and armed with sticks and rods, also vandalised property in the campus, prompting the administration to call in police which conducted a flag march. At least 28 people, including JNU Students' Union president Aishe Ghosh, were injured severely.
Eyewitnesses alleged the attackers entered the JNU premises when a meeting was being held by JNU Teachers' Association on the issue of violence on campus and assaulted students and professors.
So far, six chief ministers including Pinarayi Vijayan, Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal, Amarinder Singh, Uddhav Thackeray and Naveen Patnaik have condemned the attack on the JNU community. Expressing his shock over the attack, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal took to Twitter saying, “I am so shocked to know abt the violence at JNU. Students attacked brutally. Police shud immediately stop violence and restore peace. How will the country progress if our students will not be safe inside univ campus?”
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday condemned the violence at JNU. He said that the attack on students is an "appalling display of intolerance running amok". "Those who attempted the Nazi-style onslaught on students and teachers of JNU was trying to create unrest and violence in the country... The attackers assumed the character of a terrorist group and reached the campus with deadly weapons," Vijayan said in a Facebook post.
Also read: Masked Men Attack JNU Students, Teachers. Protests Continue
He added that the news report that the ABVP activists attempted to stop the ambulance carrying the injured students union president, showed the extent of their plan to create a riot. "Sangh Parivar must end this diabolical plan to silence the universities with bloodshed. Remember, those students are speaking for all," he added.
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee on Sunday condemned the assault on students and teachers of JNU, terming it a "heinous act" and a "shame on democracy".
"We strongly condemn brutality unleashed against students/teachers in JNU. No words enough to describe such heinous acts. A shame on our democracy," the TMC supremo said in a tweet. A four-member Trinamool Congress delegation comprising of senior party leader Dinesh Trivedi and MPs Sajda Ahmed, Manas Bhunia and Vivek Gupta will go to Delhi to express solidarity with the students and teachers, she said.
Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray compared the attack on JNU to 26/11 and said that the attackers in 26/11 come hiding behind masks as well. "The action of the attackers must be taken immediately. Students are not secured and it is not good for us as a country. Police must find out the people behind masks. If they fail then the politics behind it will get exposed," said Uddhav. He also assured the students in Maharashtra to not fear. "No incident like JNU will take place in Maharashtra. We will not allow any organisation to do such things," he said. Talking about Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) Uddhav said that no citizen of Maharashtra will lose any right and all the required steps will be taken by the state government.
Punjab CM Amarinder Singh has described the violence at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi as “barbaric and atrocious” and sought strict action from the Delhi police against those who were involved in the incident. “Situation in JNU is clearly out of hand. @DelhiPolice cannot remain silent spectators to this mayhem unleashed by a handful of goons in the premier university. This is barbaric, atrocious and needs to be tackled with iron hand,” Singh tweeted.
Requesting for swift action, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik said, “Shocked to know about the violent #JNUattack. Violence has no space in democracy and such attacks on students must be condemned unequivocally. Appeal law enforcement agencies to take swift action to apprehend the culprits and wish the injured students a speedy recovery.”
Along with the chief ministers, various political parties and their chiefs have come in solidarity with the students condemning the attack on JNU community.
The Opposition Congress has also extended its solidarity to the students. The party’s president Sonia Gandhi reportedly said, “Cong stands in solidarity with youth, students; strongly deprecate sponsored violence in JNU, demand judicial probe.”
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Monday said that JNU students were subjected to a "cowardly and planned attack". Pawar's remarks came as his party minister Jitendra Awhad joined the students protesting the violence, at the Gateway of India in Mumbai. "JNU students and professors were subjected to a cowardly but planned attack. I strongly condemn this undemocratic act of vandalism and violence. Use of violent means to suppress democratic values and thought will never succeed," Pawar tweeted.
Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati condemned the violence inside JNU. Hitting out at the Centre, Yadav said that masked men attacking teachers and students in JNU shows how "low" the government will stoop to rule through "fear" adding that the BJP is using violence and hate to polarise society.
Also read: How Violence Flared up in and Around Jamia on Sunday
"Masked men attacking teachers and students in JNU shows the low to which the government will stoop in order to rule through fear. The BJP is using violence and hate to polarise society and stifle dissent. The ABVP are acting like the storm troopers of the BJP," he said in a tweet on Sunday night.
The BSP has termed the mob attack as shameful and demanded a judicial probe into the incident.
"The violence against students and teachers in JNU is shameful and condemnable. The Centre should take it seriously and it would be better to order a judicial probe into it," Mayawati said in a tweet on Monday.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury termed it “a planned attack by those in power who are afraid of the resistance provided by JNU to its Hindutva agenda”. He questioned, “The state of security in India’s premier university in the national capital is a very damning barometer of law and order in the country and a matter of deep concern. If students are not safe, then who is?”
The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) in a press statement said, “Armed masked men entered the JNU campus in the presence of a big contingent of the Delhi Police and for three hours went on a rampage inside the campus entering the girls’ hostels and beating up students,” condemning the brutal attack on the students and teaching faculty of JNU
“It is inexplicable that the Vice Chancellor and the university authorities allowed outsiders to go on a rampage for hours before asking for police intervention. This also came after Delhi Lt. Governor directed the Police to maintain law and order and punish the culprits.”
The party also urged that the vice chancellor who has been instrumental in systematically undermining and dismantling the country’s premier university had permitted this rampage to go on unchecked for hours, according to the statement, should be sacked.
“Unlike what the Union Home Minister sought to portray as a clash between two groups, the video recordings of this rampage, that have gone viral, and the screenshots of WhatsApp groups like “Unite Against the Left” clearly show that this attack was preplanned and executed with the full knowledge of the authorities. From the slogans that these outsiders were shouting, it is clear that they are part of the RSS-BJP. These goons must be punished forthwith,” the statement reads further.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala accused the JNU administration of being complicit in the violent attacks on Sunday night.
It also alleged that the Delhi Police remained a mute spectator when students were being attacked by armed miscreants.
“Why are you harbouring enmity in the youth of country? The more you suppress the voice of the youth, more emboldened it will become,” said Surjewala while talking to the reporters.
“Violence in JNU reminds us of the Nazi rule 90 years ago (sic),” he added.
DMK Chief MK Stalin said: “Shocked to see visuals of masked miscreants attacking JNU students inside the campus. DMK condemns rising incidents of violence against students within universities in the aftermath of #CAA2019. All those who are responsible for these incidents must be brought to book immediately.”
Following the attack on JNU community, trade unions have also come out in support of the students and teachers. Central trade unions except the RSS-affiliated Bharat Mazdoor Sangh, which are gearing up for a general strike on January 8, have condemned the attack.
In statement, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) said that they “strongly condemn the brutal and barbaric attack by the ABVP goons on the students of JNU including the President of JNUSU, Aishe Ghosh”.
“In the last few days, the ABVP people were continuously attacking the students who are on a struggle for the past 70 days. Today, 5 January, around two hundred RSS - ABVP goons from outside entered the campus and attacked a gathering organised by the JNUTA for peace in the campus. The police was called but they were not preventing the attackers but rather facilitating them. We strongly condemn the attitude of Delhi police and JNU administration facilitating RSS criminals (sic),” the statement reads.
Calling upon all its state committees, affiliated unions, members and the people of the country to immediately protest against this attack, CITU said: “This attack shows the desperation of the RSS led right wing forces who are getting isolated from the people by the growing protests against the CAA and the anti people policies of the government.”
The women’s organisation All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) also denounced the heinous attack on students and teachers, including girls and women.
Referring to the masked armed goons, AIDWA said: “[T]hat these thugs entered the campus without any hindrance points to the fact that it was a pre-planned attack. The connivance of the police, university security staff and administration with the Sangh Parivar affiliated ABVP and the armed thugs of the RSS-BJP-Bajrang Dal is extremely shocking.”
“This barbarity unleashed on the students and teachers has left many of them seriously injured, including the JNUSU President Aishe Ghosh. Students have been protesting against the unjust fee hike for the last few months. The massive unity shown by the students against the fee hike has unnerved the BJP-RSS central government. The Modi regime is now revealing its fascistic fangs to try to terrorise the student community into submission,” it read.
Expressing solidarity with all the students and teachers, AIDWA demanded “the sternest action against the armed thugs and also the police officials and security staff who have connived with these goons in perpetrating this violence.” It also demanded that the JNU administration take immediate steps to ensure the safety of the students and teachers in the campus.
Also read: Police Lathi-Charge JNU Students, Stops March to Parliament
The lawyers’ body, All India Lawyers’ Union (AILU) said: “It is not an isolated incident. It is terror unleashed by the State using saffron brigade-ABVP goons as mercenaries to silence the dissents. Three weeks before police resorted opened firing in Jamia Millia Islamia to silence anti CAA protest. They fired tear gas shells and thrashed students inside the Jamia Milia Islamia library. Till now they have been denying firing by police during anti CAA protest in Jamia Millia. Now, the police officer, as per the press report, confirmed that they had opened firing in Jamia Millia.”
Appealing to all its activists and members and entire legal fraternity to stand up and protest against this fascistic terror and onslaught on rule of law and provide all assistance and support to the resisting students and victims, AILU statement added: “Fascists consider universities and libraries as their number one enemies and their first attempt in pursuit of their agenda is to the silence the university and the students.”
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) president and Parliamentarian Asaduddin Owaisi also joined with the unity of opposition parties by expressing solidarity with the JNU community.
"In solidarity with the brave students of JNU. This cruel attack is meant to 'punish' JNU students because they dared to stand up. It's so bad that even Union Ministers are tweeting helplessly. Modi Sarkar must answer why cops are siding with goons," the Hyderabad MP tweeted.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has also stepped into the fray, condemning the attack on medical volunteers who had rushed to JNU on Sunday evening to attend to the students and teachers who were injured during the brutal violence resorted by the masked men who allegedly belong to ABVP.
“The situation in the country smacks of total anarchy and breakdown of law and order is complete. If doctors and nurses are not safe in the capital of the country it speaks volumes about the governance and lack of it. Time has come for the medical fraternity to devise its own arrangements for self-defence. How does it reflect on the nation, if it cannot protect its doctors and nurses reaching out to the injured? Is this a civil war? What is the message that goes out to the world?,” said the statement by IMA.
Human rights organisation Amnesty International India on Monday criticised the Delhi Police for “repeatedly failing” to protect the students peacefully protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
The Delhi Police remained “shameful bystanders to mob brutality on students”, its all-India executive director, Avinash Kumar said in a statement.
"The authorities have failed in their duty to ensure the safety of the students, signalling a shameful complicity of the state machinery.
“Whether it is JNU or Jamia Millia University, the Delhi Police have repeatedly failed to protect the students peacefully protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act,” he said.
Protests across the country
The attack on students and teachers of JNU has triggered massive protests across the country. The student community, along with the public, has been leading the protests and various organisations have come out to be part of the ongoing demonstrations.
All the major cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Bhopal, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Jaipur, etc. have been occupied by the protesting citizens.
Soon after the news on violence spread, the citizens of Delhi along with students, youth and activists gathered outside the JNU campus, while another group staged a massive protest at the Delhi Police Headquarters at ITO.
In Mumbai, the citizens have gathered at the Gateway of India and the protest call was given by the platform ‘We, the People of India’. Later, various organisations like Students’ Federation of India (SFI), Progressive Students’ Forum (PSF), Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) and AIDWA joined with the protest.
“Right now, our main aim is to make people aware of what has happened at JNU, which is basically a state-sponsored attack,” said Mayank Saxena, a member of We the People of India.
In Bengaluru, hundreds of people have joined the demonstration at the Town Hall. Slogans like “Down, down ABVP… down, down; Amit Shah… down, down BJP… Raise your voice against the goons, central government shame, shame!” were reverberating during the protest.
Meanwhile in Kerala, each and every organisation except the BJP-RSS affiliates have come out condemning the attack on JNU community. CPI(M), CPI, Congress, Indian Union Muslim League along with various other civil rights group have staged flash protests across various locations of the state.
The residents of Bhopal have also held a rally against the horrific JNU attack at city’s busiest square, Board Office on Monday evening. The call for protest has given by the member of various civil society groups where the former IAS Kannan Gopinathan was a part.
A member of civil society, Rajendra Kothari said, “Everyone knows who attacked JNU campus last night. The police’s behaviour and WhatsApp group chats have proved it. It’s a state-sponsored attack. We, the people of Bhopal, condemn it and demand immediate arrest of the goons.”
A senior journalist, Rakesh Dixit said that the reason behind holding this protest is to register our disappointment against the brutal attack on JNU campus and raise voice against Union government’s intention to tear apart the reputation of higher education institutes.
On the other hand, India’s top sportspersons, including former India opener Gautam Gambhir and Grand Slam winner Rohan Bopanna have stepped up to condemn the attacks on students and professors of the JNU on Sunday.
“Such violence on university campus is completely against the ethos of this country. No matter what the ideology or bent of mind, students cannot be targeted this way. Strictest punishment has to be meted out to these goons who have dared to enter the University,” BJP MP Gambhir tweeted.
Former India all-rounder Irfan Pathan said that such incidents do not help the country’s image.
“What happened in JNU yesterday is not a regular incident. Students being attacked by an armed mob inside University campus, in hostels, is as broken as it can get. This isn’t helping our country’s image,” Pathan wrote on his Twitter page.
Senior Davis Cupper and former French Open mixed doubles champion Bopanna wrote: “Horrific and shameful what has happened in #JNU, The people responsible for these must be punished.”
India's doubles specialist shuttler Jwala Gutta also tweeted a couple of times.
“Are we all gonna be still quiet?? Watch this happen to our students?? Why the guilty ones weren’t caught and charged?? Why were the (sic) escorted out of the university?”
(With inputs from PTI)