Student fraternity says no to campus violence
LSR student Gurmehar Kaur stays away, says she’s had enough
The protest march in Delhi University against alleged ABVP violence at Ramjas College concluded on Tuesday after a day of speeches and sloganeering. From SGTB Khalsa College, it went on in the direction of the Arts Faculty. Members of the Congress-backed NSUI sat on a hunger strike outside the Arts faculty and students from various Delhi University colleges joined the protest.
"We are not here to support AISA or ABVP but have come to show our solidarity for the freedom of speech and expression," said a student from Khalsa College who wished not to be named.
Several politicians were part of Tuesday's protest including Sitaram Yechury, D Raja and Yogendra Yadav. Students and teachers from JNU, Jamia Millia Islamia and Ambedkar University also attended the march. Former JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar and former vice-president of JNU Students' Union, Shehla Rashid Shora, also attended the protest march.
Shouting "ABVP Go Back", some 2,000 students marched through the sprawling Delhi University campus to denounce the RSS-affiliated body for attacking students, teachers and journalists.
Many held banners demanding the right to freedom of speech and condemning the ABVP for the February 21-22 violence.
On the other hand, ABVP members addressed a press conference, claiming that it was the Left that had started the violence on the day of Ramjas incident.
Towards the end of the march, despite strong attempts by the ABVP members to disrupt the protest, its efforts were thwarted by the police stationed at the Arts Faculty.
Gurmehar Kaur, a Lady Sri Ram student and daughter of a Kargil martyr, who took social media by storm after taking on ABVP in the aftermath of violence in Ramjas College, chose to withdraw her campaign following rape threats.
Hours after this development, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said she was free to say and do what she wants and should be left alone as per her wish. Rijiju also hit back at those criticising him for asking who was polluting Gurmehar's mind, saying that he stood by his tweet and was only speaking his mind. "(When I say) somebody (is polluting her mind), I mean the Leftists," he said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal too endorsed Gurmehar's stand against the ABVP and violence on the Campus. He also attacked the BJP and said it had now become a party of "hooligans" and "criminals". "Threatening our daughters and sisters with rape, is this the BJP's patriotism? Shame on these people," he tweeted. Later, he also met Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal in this regard.
AAP leaders Atishi Marlena and legislators Alka Lamba and Sarita Singh met Delhi top cop Amulya Kumar Patnaik and sought action against the ABVP for the February 22 violence on the Campus. They also accused the police of failing to protect women's rights.
A day after the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) urged Delhi Police to probe the alleged rape threats to Gurmehar, a First Information Report (FIR) was registered by the cyber cell on Tuesday. Kaur has also been provided added protection by the police. Senior officials also said they have spoken to Gurmehar and have strengthened protection around her residence and premises to ensure her safety.
Meanwhile, the NHRC on Tuesday sought a report from the Delhi Police over allegations that policemen attacked a female student and manhandled journalists during the February 22 clash of students at the Delhi University's Ramjas College. In a notice to Police Commissioner Amulya Kumar Patnaik, the NHRC said it has taken cognizance of complaints and media reports against police and gave him four weeks to submit a detailed report.
Even as events continue to unfold at breakneck speed in Delhi University, scenes of students protesting and marching on a college campus are reminiscent of those that unfolded at JNU in February last year. Now, with increasing disruptions to seminars and violent clashes between the so-called "schools of thought" becoming rampant in Indian universities, one wonders whether the new 'culture of protest' is becoming a trend.