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ABVP members, students clash; many injured

Delhi University's Ramjas College on Wednesday turned a veritable a battleground as over 20 students were reportedly injured after two groups clashed over the college cancelling its invite to JNU's Umar Khalid for a seminar.

A section of teachers and students had planned to march to Maurice Nagar police station, demanding action against the ABVP members for alleged vandalism. All India Students' Association or AISA activists claimed that on Tuesday, ABVP activists threw stones, locked the seminar room and cut the power supply — charges that have been denied by the ABVP.

A group of students and teachers had gathered in protest against Ramjas College for allegedly cancelling its invite to Umar Khalid, one of the JNU students slapped with sedition last year. He and former JNUSU vice-president Shehla Rashid were slated to speak at a session on the "culture of protest" organised as part of a two-day seminar by the college literary society. But after protests by the BJP-linked ABVP, their talk was scrapped. As they raised slogans outside the college on Wednesday, ABVP activists arrived at the scene.

AISA activists say they were surrounded by ABVP members and not allowed to march. Students from Ramjas College and other Delhi University colleges describe this a "breach of freedom of expression".

Amid sloganeering and fights, police were deployed to bring the situation under control but scuffles and demonstrations did not stop. Teachers and students were badly injured and received treatment along with some journalists who were also caught in the melee and beaten up. The ABVP members, along with the police, had almost blocked the institute and threatened that no march would be allowed. ABVP tried snatching mobile phones of journalists and other equipment were also broken by its members.

Later, teachers and students were roughed up by the ABVP members who allegedly threw bottles and chairs on them. A student suffered head injuries and a senior faculty member Prashanto Chakraborty was also attacked by ABVP members.

Kawalpreet Kaur, president of the AISA, said: "I am totally aghast by the state of affairs our academic institutions have got into. It is still difficult to believe that stones were being pelted in a DU college just for organising a literary discussion."

She added: "These attacks are on the very idea of the University. The most shameful part is that even the DU administration not just silently watched these incidents of hooliganism but gave a free run to these groups."

Roshni, a second-year student of Ramjas, said: "ABVP ki gundagardi nahi chalegi. We will not let these goons curb our freedom of expression."

After continuous efforts, a group of students managed to enter the police station receiving blows and bricks en route while another group of over 100 students along with about 15 teachers remained besieged by a large number of ABVP members.

Shouting slogans against the Delhi Police and ABVP, students alleged that they were being repeatedly threatened and assaulted and that Delhi Police acted as silent spectators and did not act against the ABVP members. So much so, an AISA activist who was on her way back from Wednesday's protest was attacked by ABVP members.

ABVP leader Abhishek Verma claimed: "There was no violence. The ABVP always promotes discussion. But you need to maintain decorum...The college students and teachers didn't want Umar Khalid." On Tuesday, the Ramjas College principal, Rajender Prasad said: "While the seminar will continue we decided to cancel the participation of these two students. It is not that we do not advocate freedom of speech but it had to be done keeping peace and harmony of campus in mind."
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