New Delhi: Amid nationwide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), students of South Delhi’s Ram Lal Anand College have alleged receiving threats from some students belonging to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated ABVP, for pointing out certain inaccuracies and ‘communally-laden’ remarks in a recent talk by Balbir Punj, a former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member of Parliament.
Ironically, while BJP’s Balbir Punj was allowed as a chief guest to speak on CAA-NRC in Delhi University’s RLA College, Left leader Prakash Karat was barred from entering Ambedkar University to take part in a panel discussion on the same subject on Wednesday, citing the election model code of conduct.
On January 17, the college’s students’ union organised a seminar titled “CAA-NRC: Myths and Facts”, where Punj, who is also a senior journalist, was invited for a talk. Some students alleged that during his talk, the BJP MP made “factually wrong statements and communal remarks,” which were flagged by some of them during the question and answer session.
Speaking to NewsClick, Deshdeep Dhankar, a student who questioned Punj said: “Our attempt was to stop the blatant spread of lies and communal propaganda.” Video footage of the event shows students correcting Punj and stating that “India is a secular country and will maintain its democractic character.”
“Balbir Punj resorted to making communal arguments. He talked about minorities in Pakistan and Afghanistan but no word on minorities in India, and how they are being treated. He several times during the seminar explained 'secularism' which he denied to be a part of the preamble (to the Constitution),” alleged a student.
In a statement released after the event, students of the college released a statement that read: “We the students of RLAC condemn the statements made by the speaker during the seminar held on 17th of January. When we questioned him (Punj) regarding CAA and NRC, he couldn't address it. The talk was a complete failure where all he was trying to set an agenda, spreading lies and hatred, where all he mentioned was Pakistan, Bangladesh, Jinnah. He tried to mold history. Majority of students opposed the lies which he was spreading out in public. The statements made were insensitive, Islamophobic, and deeply hurt the sentiments of the student community.”
After the event, students have alleged that an “atmosphere of insecurity” had gripped the campus, with some even alleging threats from the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarathi Parishad (ABVP).
“After questioning Punj and highlighting facts, we are facing threats from ABVP. I have had to turn off my phone and I am no longer feeling secure on campus. We have also urged our teachers to ensure that there is greater security on campus,” Dhankar said.
NewsClick reached out to the organisers of the event for their comment, however, there was no response.
Amidst the anti-CAA stir across India, campuses have become targets of state violence and police brutality, as seen recently in Jamia Millia, Aligarh Muslim University and Jawaharlal Nehru University, with shrinking spaces for discussion becoming the core issue.
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