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ABVP 'hooliganism', police inaction draw widespread condemnation

All the stones and glass bottles hurled as projectiles amidst jingoistic chants of Bharat Mata ki Jai remain mute reminders of the havoc unleashed by members of the Bharatiya Janata Party-affiliated students' body Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) in the Ramjas College campus over its invitation to JNU students Umar Khalid, who is facing sedition charges, and Shehla Rashid to address a seminar on 'Culture of Protests'.

Alleged ABVP activists seemed hell-bent on playing out a second season of patriot games over the seminar invites, a grim reminder of the protests that rocked the Jawaharlal Nehru University last year.

Unprovoked attacks on students by ABVP goons in which professors, teachers and students were brutally beaten up along with journalists has drawn widespread angst and condemnation from all quarters. The unprecedented act of hooliganism has given rise to a huge political controversy with Delhi University Campus witnessing several activities throughout the day.

The hoodlums of ABVP, despite facing severe criticism were seen gearing up for the next round of protests with no repentance for their alleged high-handedness. The role of the law enforcement agency has also been criticised as they neither took adequate measures to stop the activities of the ABVP members during the attacks nor stopped their seamless movement in and around the campus even on Thursday.

The students, enrolled in various colleges claimed being victimised without their participation and claimed unprecedented sufferings inflicted on them. Amid constant fear and insecurity, they either preferred to stay at home or succumb to the pressure of some factions.

"Though we were not part of the violence, the ABVP men have been trying to involve us too. Our stand is being questioned and we are even being threatened with dire consequences if we do not extend our support to them," a student in the campus said, adding that, the ABVP members had blocked all channels of dialogue.

Recalling ABVP members' high-handedness, the students said that Wednesday's march was to condemn cancellation of the seminar "Culture of Protest". As it was a peaceful protest, all sections including teachers, professors and even mediapersons extended their support. The ABVP members, irked with the growing support, went berserk. The goons vandalised the college premises and attacked those in the march.

Innocent bystanders were beaten up with hockey sticks, glass shards, tube lights, bricks and for good measure-eggs wrapped in plastic. Female students were followed to their hostels and even threatened with rape.

The criminality could be judged from the fact that they even targeted mediapersons, thrashed them up mercilessly before snatching their cameras and mobile phones to delete footages/evidence of their act. Journalists covering Wednesday's clashes outside Ramjas College were slapped, punched and kicked by about a dozen policemen, all without nameplates.

Hindustan Times' reporter Ananya Bhardwaj, The Times of India's Somreet Bhattacharya and photographer Anindya Chattopadhyay, Times Now's reporter Priyank and cameraman Mazhar Khan and several other journalists were beaten up by these policemen who also snatched their phones and cameras and deleted photos and videos. A reporter and a photographer from The Quint and several others were also thrashed by the cops.

Senior faculty members like Prashant Chakravarty, Saikat Ghosh and others were among the faculty members who were manhandled by the angry mob. The mayhem continued even as the marchers walked towards Maurice Nagar police station. The clashes continued till Guru Teg Bahadur Road, at the rear gate of the Arts Faculty, where stones and bottles were hurled at peaceful protestors and the campus area wore a deserted look on Wednesday night.

Though the north campus of Delhi University is being used as a political platform for few groups but the most suffered section are students whose classes were suspended with immediate effect. Classes were suspended for two consecutive days and students have been reportedly asked to remain in their hostels.
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