New Delhi: Students’ protests broke out across the country condemning the violence by Right-wing goons against the students and faculty at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on the night of Sunday, January 5.
The armed and masked men and women, allegedly belonging to the far-right-wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, went on a rampage inside the university campus. Several students, including activists of Left-wing students' organisations, including Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and All India Students’ Association (AISA) were specifically targeted. JNU Students' Union (JNUSU) president Aishe Ghosh and general secretary Satish Chandra were among those injured. Faculty members who were part of a meeting appealing for peace were also attacked. Professor Sucharita Sen, a faculty of the university, was admitted to the hospital with injuries.
Reacting strongly to the violence, students across the country started rising in protest as soon as the news about the attacks started spreading. A huge crowd gathered in front of the old Delhi Police Headquarters in ITO at around nine in the evening, where students from Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi University, and Ambedkar University joined students from JNU. The protesters raised slogans and demanded that police leave the JNU campus.
The JNUSU has called a students’ march on Monday in the campus against the attack by the JNU administration, the inaction by Delhi Police against alleged ABVP goons on Monday, at 1 p.m. JNUSU said in a statement on the night of Sunday, “The violence that happened today is the result of the desperation and frustration of the VC and his cronies. But the chronology of events that unfolded today is a shameful episode for the Delhi Police who gave a safe passage to ABVP goons imported from outside. For days now the administration has been unable to break our protest. Since 4th January, ABVP people were directed as henchmen of the VC to come and beat up students. They used lathis and pipes on that day.”
In Bengaluru, students of the National Law University held a silent protest inside the university hours after the students and professors were attacked in JNU. The students lit candles to show their solidarity with those who were attacked. A group of protesters gathered at Town Hall on Monday morning to voice their concern and anger over the incident, and police inaction. They demanded the resignation of the vice chancellor of JNU.
Anirudh G., one of the protesters told The Hindu that it was disturbing to see mobs gain entry into a campus. “What happened in JNU is the death of democracy. It should not be seen as an isolated incident,” he said. SFI, AISA, All India Democratic Students’ Organisation (AIDSO), All India Students’ Federation (AISF), and Karnataka Vidyavardhaka Sangha (KVS) have called for a massive protest at 4 pm on Monday, January 6, at Bengaluru’s Town Hall.
In Hyderabad, SFI members of the University of Hyderabad gathered on Sunday night in solidarity with the students who were attacked in JNU. Abhishek Nandan, Student’s Union President told The News Minute, “We are around 200 people protesting against violence against JNU students, who were protesting against the fee hike. We condemn this violence by ABVP and its supporters.”
In Aligarh, hundreds of students of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) on Monday carried out a candle march to show solidarity with JNU students. The students lit candles and carried banners to express their solidarity with the JNU students who were injured during the violence on campus. Students carried posters with "AMU stands in solidarity with JNU" written on them, and raised slogans of "JNU Zindabad", "AMU Zindabad", and "Down with ABVP" during the march.
Maskoor Ahmad Usmani, former AMUSU president, told NewsClick “I am deeply shocked to witness this brutality unleashed upon JNU students by ABVP goons. This is no less than an act of terrorism. It fills my heart with extreme anguish and pain to witness the precedence of resentment and discontent in the country. There is a strong sense of hatred being propagated by the state and the incumbent dispensation. I feel pity for the masses who subscribe to the ideology of RSS and BJP.”
He added, “In these hard times of rising day-to-day fascism, I plea to the civil society and all the oppressed sections of the country to stay united against the fanatical Hindutva forces.”
Banaras Hindu University (BHU) students and teachers have given a call for protest at Madhuban Park, located within the campus, at 4 pm. Vivek Kumar Singh, a student of BHU, told NewsClick, "Yesterday, the ABVP launched a brutal and murderous attack on JNU students. It was state-sponsored mayhem. Universities across the country are constantly being attacked by the government. They want to deprive poor students of education by ruining government educational institutions. This fight is a fight to save education and in this, we students of BHU stand with JNU."
Meanwhile, about a dozen students, who are members and supporters of the ring-wing ABVP, protested on Monday at the North gate of Banaras Hindu University alleging that the attack in JNU on Sunday evening was by leftists. The students sloganeered against the left groups and even burnt an effigy amid heavy police presence.
Students of Allahabad University held a solidarity meeting at a union hall condemning the violence against the students and faculty in JNU. "Violence in any form is condemnable. We stand by our friends in JNU. Today it is them, tomorrow it can be us," a student of Allahabad University told NewsClick.
In Lucknow, about two dozens students associated with National Students’ Union of India also protested against the violence. The members of Samajwadi Chhtara Sabha members have also planned to stage a protest later in the evening. In Kanpur, too, students and citizens poured out on the streets to express their solidarity with the students of JNU.
Thousands of students, activists and political leaders also protested across Maharashtra. Students of the Film & Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune staged a protest on Sunday midnight against violence at the JNU. They will hold another demonstration on Monday, a member of FTII students' association told PTI. Students of Indian Institute of Technology Bombay held up banners and posters in solidarity with JNU. “RSS down down” and “IIT-B stands with JNU”, read some of the posters.
On Sunday night, thousands of students, youths and especially girls started gathering at Gateway of India in Mumbai. A call of 'Occupy Gateway' was given spontaneously by secular, progressive people of the city. Thousands gathered at the protest site within an hour.
Students from Ruia College in Matunga held an agitation at the gate of the college. They chanted slogans against the BJP as well as the union government for letting this attack take place. A major march in support of JNU students is scheduled to take place in Mumbai at 4 pm on Monday. More than a dozen of students’ associations will hold the rally at Hutatma Chowk. The students will also be joined by political leaders and social activists.
In Pune, students are planning to gather at Savitribai Phule Pune University at 6 p.m on Monday. Protests will also be held in Aurangabad, Nagpur and Nasik to condemn the incident.
Students of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad to protest against the violence in JNU. The human chain started from the statue of Babasaheb Ambedkar in the university campus and extended till the administrative building, an official told PTI. Protesters shouted slogans against the ruling BJP, ABVP, and other Sangh Parivar outfits, he said. The protesting students belonged to Congress' National Students' Union of India (NSUI), the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen and Republican Vidyarthi Sena.
Some students on Monday shouted slogans during a seminar at the Panjab University (PU) to protest the violence in JNU. The students shouted slogans when Haryana Assembly Speaker Gian Chand Gupta was speaking a seminar- 'Women's Participation in Decision Making' at the PU campus here. The protesters including girl students were taken out of the seminar hall by the security personnel, reported PTI.
In Kolkata, students of Jadavpur University began their protest after midnight. Slogans and chants against the violence perpetrated against students and faculty of JNU were heard in visuals shared on social media.
Protests are scheduled to take place across the country on Monday. In Punjab, a protest is being held at the Students’ Centre, Panjab University. In Kolkata, a protest is scheduled to take place in Jadavpur University at 2 pm, and another one at College Square at 5 pm.
In Thiruvananthapuram, a march has been called by students of the Centre for Development Studies on the evening of Monday. In Patna, a protest is taking place in Patna University’s Darbhanga House. In Ahmedabad, students have called for a protest outside Indian Institute of Management on Monday evening.
(With inputs from PTI, Abdul Alim Jafri, Saurabh Sharma, Kashif Kakvi)