JNU: 'Why Would we Come to Study if we Feel Threatened?' Ask Students After Alleged ABVP Attack
Representational image. | Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Four students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) sustained injuries in an alleged attack by the RSS-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarathi Parishad (ABVP) inside the campus in New Delhi on Sunday. The students allege that they were cornered and beaten by the ABVP activists while preparing for a screening of the classic satire ‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron’ at the JNU students Union (JNUSU) office.
Lata, a PhD student at the Centre of Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Latin American Studies, told NewsClick over the phone that the attack seemed pre-planned as the organisers removed the framed image of Shivaji and other noted personalities to put up the screen for projecting the film. She said, “We, as the Hundred Flowers Group, have screened dozens of movies inside the campus for many previous years. We also put up posters and distributed pamphlets on Wednesday last week for this film screening and booked the JNUSU office. To screen a film, any students’ group have to remove the framed images on the wall inside the hall. We removed them gracefully and put them on a chair. Later, they are always put in the same place. The ABVP activists knew about it.”
She added, “When I reached the JNUSU office at 8:30 PM with two friends, we removed the images from the wall. Soon, we were cornered and beaten. The office of JNUSU, too, was vandalised, and the ABVP activists wrote hateful slogans there. The security officials who were present at the place did not intervene.”
Lata, who was one of the organisers of the screening, said the students are seeing a clear pattern where the incidents are being manufactured to keep portraying the university in a poor light and deviate attention from issues affecting people. She said, “We are seeing a clear pattern where a students’ group is consistently engaging in violence. Then propaganda channels, with their venomous anchors, use such incidents to consistently malign the image of the university and tell the countrymen that we are the real enemy. It is astonishing to see that JNU came into existence in 1969 but never was in the news with this much consistency. We will be filing a police complaint and raising our concern with the university administration.”
Nazar, a student at the Special Centre for Molecular Medicine, who too sustained an injury in the head, said that he rushed to the JNUSU office when he heard about the attack. He said, “I got the news that my friends who were screening the film were attacked. When I reached the office, it had been vandalised and people were gheraoed by the activists of ABVP. When I tried to prevent them, I was attacked. My head was bleeding profusely. I was rushed to the ambulance where these hooligans even tried to drag us out of the vehicle.”
He added that the students from far states feel increasingly insecure inside the campus, and there are no measures to protect them despite repeated instances. “The campus, too, witnessed violence when the JNUSU tried to screen the BBC documentary on the 2002 Gujarat Riots. I hail from Tamil Nadu, and we had complained to the administration to ensure our Security. It is the worst experience to be here. JNU was known for its openness, where people could debate and dissent. It has all vanished now. The Tamil Nadu government is offering Rs 5 crore to JNU to establish a special centre, but why would Tamil students come here when they feel threatened and cannot study properly?” Nazar asked.
Dr DNV Senthil Kumar, Member of Parliament from the DMK who visited the campus in the evening to meet the injured students, told NewsClick that he was appalled by the violence inside the university known for its excellence in research. He said, “I came to know about Nasir through social media and went to campus to meet the injured students to express my solidarity. I was also informed that the framed image of Periyar was also vandalised. So, I got a new poster framed and reinstated it. When I saw the hall, the image of Lenin, Marx, Ambedkar and even Bhagat Singh was vandalised. It is a serious matter. I assured the students I would meet the Vice-Chancellor and raise the issue. I will also write to the Home Minister and see that justice is served. The students told me that they were dragged out of an ambulance and beaten. Some girls were also molested.”
He added that there is a sense of insecurity among students post the violent incidents on campus, and parents are paranoid about it. “I met VC Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit, who is also from Tamil Nadu and in a better situation to understand the plight of students. She assured me that they will repaint the office. I am expecting that the administration will take action on the matter.”
Reacting to the vandalism, Aishe Ghosh, President of JNUSU, said that On February 19, the union had given a call for a Candle Light March in solidarity with Darshan Solanki’s family members’ quest for justice. Darshan Solanki, an 18-year-old Dalit student, died by suicide at IIT Bombay due to alleged discrimination and exclusion on the campus.
She added that on the evening of February 19, when JNUSU concluded the march and the public meeting started at Sabarmati Dhaba, the union representatives received messages and pictures of the vandalised union office. Within a few minutes, the representatives received SOS calls that a student group named ‘Hundred Flowers Group’, which had a prior booking of the JNUSU office, was about to organise a film screening and ABVP activists who were present at the office allegedly started heckling and assaulting them.
While the JNUSU office bearers and council members rushed to the JNUSU office just after concluding the public meeting, the union room was vandalised. Several members of the ABVP allegedly started heckling the students union members and took out portraits of Periyar, Bhagat Singh, Karl Marx, Savitribai Phule, and Jyotiba Phule and threw them on the floor.
Ghosh further said, “The JNUSU members immediately called up the Chief Security Officer, Delhi Police, to inform about the incident and request the campus security intervene to de-escalate the situation. Neither did the Security move an inch to help the students nor did the police take any measure to ensure that the situation doesn’t worsen.”
“After some time, the ABVP members started chanting slogans and moved out of the JNUSU office towards the main gate in the form of a rally. Meanwhile, the students initially decided to walk towards the VC’s house, but later changed the plan to sit and watch the film scheduled for screening as the ABVP had already moved out. The ABVP goons again came back and started beating up the students, and several were left with serious injuries and had to be taken to the Safdarjung Hospital," she said. Ghosh added that while the ambulance was moving out, a mob of 15-20 students tried to stop the ambulance and again attacked a student.
A statement from JNUSU further added, “This is not an isolated event of the growing impunity of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarthi Parishad (ABVP). Time and again, the ABVP has resorted to violence to curb and shrink the democratic spaces and rights of the students. What is more shocking is that it’s been more than 24 hours, rather than initiating any enquiry, the Dean of Students’ Office has now got a farman to dictate that the JNUSU office will require formal and prior permission and any event organised without due permission will invite disciplinary actions. The impunity extended by the JNU Administration, Chief Proctor’s office, and Delhi Police has led to a situation where 7-10 repeat offenders who are students of JNU and affiliated to the ABVP have been repeatedly creating ruckus, inciting violence and disturbing the peace and harmony inside the campus spaces.”
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