A Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) economics professor was allegedly abused and some teachers and organisers of a seminar were attacked by alleged BJP and ABVP members at Bhubaneswar’s premier Utkal University on Sunday when he started speaking on the Constitution.
A video of the incident shows a group of youths abusing and attacking a few people at the seminar, Indian Constitution and Education, organised by the Citizen’s Forum at the PG Council Hall.
According to The Times of India (TOI), two youths opposed professor Surajit Mazumdar’s speech and asked the organisers to stop the seminar. Subsequently, an altercation between the youths and the organisers, including teachers, activists and other intellectuals, started.
“When I started delivering the speech and talked about the directive principles, the fundamentals and the objectives of the Constitution and BR Ambedkar, a few people shouted and hurled abuses at me,” Mazumdar told The Telegraph on Sunday night.
“I don’t know who these elements are. Although they did not physically attack me, they attacked the organisers and heckled me,” Mazumdar added.
Narrating the sequence of the events, seminar convenor Pradipta Nayak told The Telegraph, “When professor Surajit Mazumdar started talking on BR Amabedkar’s principles and objectives and said that national resources should not be handed over to a few people, it did not go down well with a few outsiders present at the meeting.”
Although Mazumdar “didn’t name any industrialists, like Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani”, the opposers “ran towards the dais and abused the speaker. When we opposed it, the situation went out of control”.
Nayak alleged that the attackers were “groups of non- students” led by Sangh supporters. “They beat us severely. I was injured. Another lecturer, Surendra Kumar Jena, was injured. We have lodged an FIR,” he said.
“They created terror inside the hall. When all the members and participants came out of the hall, they held my friend hostage and me. The police rescued us,” Nayak told TOI.
Manas Sahoo, one of the protesters, alleged that Mazumdar was delivering an anti-India speech. “The JNU professor said that the Constitution is in danger. He was targeting upper- caste people. Our reaction was a reply to that,” he told TOI.
Another protester alleged that Mazumdar targeted upper castes and the organisers attacked them. “He said that upper castes are ruling the nation and we should oppose them. We opposed his statement and the organisers then attacked us.
We stopped the programme as we don’t want the campus to be misused by certain people,” he told PTI.
Both sides lodged FIRs at the Shaheed Nagar Police Station, Bhubaneswar DCP Prateek Singh told TOI. “We have started an investigation. We have detained some people in connection with the case,” he said.
Biju Chhatra Janata Dal state president Devi Ranjan Tripathy demanded stringent action against “ABVP members for attacking the teachers and participants” at the seminar. “This hooliganism of the ABVP has created terror on the campus. They destroyed the educational environment of Utkal University,” he told TOI.