Published: 15th November 2021
On Nehru's birthday, JNU sees yet another students' clash: ABVP, left parties blame each other for blows
The allegations from both sides are similar. While the ABVP said that they were there first and were assaulted by left organisations, the SFI said that the ABVP assaulted common students
It was November 14, Jawaharlal Nehru's birthday, when students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University got embroiled in a fight — left and right students groups clashed yet again, this time over who had the permission to organise a meeting in the Students' Union Room. RSS's student wing, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) alleged that they had informed the administration of their internal meeting and left-leaning students' organisations barged in and demanded the space for an event they had planned. That's when the fight started — students pushed each other around and a few on either side of the brawl got hurt but the ones missing from this party were the security guards, who allegedly reached the spot more than an hour late.
The allegations from both sides are similar. While the ABVP said that they were there first and were assaulted by the SFI, AISA and other left organisations, the SFI said that the Hundred Flowers Group, a students' group, was set to have a reading session on Engel's book, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, and were assaulted by the ABVP. They also said that when Aishe Ghosh, JNUSU President and an SFI activist, came to intervene, she was assaulted as well. ABVP, on the other hand, said that they had given a formal letter to the Chief Security Officer about their meeting and did not campaign or put posters about it because it was an internal meeting. Both sides said that they were assaulted and beaten up by the other side. Students were later taken to AIIMS for treatment.
Aishe said that the JNUSU manages the union room and the ABVP was supposed to inform the union rather than the security officer. "They could have just texted or called me or any of the office bearers or simply put up a message on the WhatsApp group," said the JNUSU President. But here's where Rohit Kumar, Secretary, ABVP-JNU, has an issue. "None of our councillors are even on that group. How will they text there?" asked Rohit. "They are all included in the main Union group and there are ABVP activists even in the activities group. If they wanted the new councillors to be added to the group they could have simply told me so," said Aishe.
Students also claimed that ABVP did not have permission to enter the room but they barged in when the Hundred Flowers Group opened the door. While the left-leaning bodies took to sloganeering, the ABVP did not budge — things went wrong very fast. "After I reached the spot around 9.30 pm, I had even requested them to move out to a different room — there are three rooms in the same building. The other programme had already been campaigned about and the posters mentioned the room. But they were adamant. They said they might not be able to conduct their meeting in all this chaos, neither will they let the other group have their meeting," she added.
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AISA activists, who were also present at the union room, said that not only were the students assaulted physically, they were also verbally abused. "Their goons started hitting common students. Dhananjay and Aman had to suffer injuries. Akhtarista and Dripta were subjected to verbal abuse and manhandling by the goons of ABVP. Vivek Pandey, a student from SIS got severely injured. Former JNUSU Councillor Umesh, and various other left activists faced injuries due to this attack. The Cyclops guards, like always, stood there as mute spectators of the attack by the ABVP goons," the AISA said in a statement.ABVP too said that the guards did reach the scene but more than an hour late. "The guards came, but after almost an hour and a half," said Rohit.
But that's not all, students alleged that there were casteist, separatist slurs hurled at them and even slogans that aped Anurag Thakur's infamous Goli Maaro slogan. "When some of us along with JNUSU President went there to intervene, they catcalled, sloganeered "Goli maaro saalon ko", abused and harassed us for nearly one and a half hours. Then when they saw that the numbers of students resisting their misbehaviour increased, without provocation they started assaulting students. At least three students incurred injuries and women students were harassed. None of this was stopped by the Cyclops security. It was only because students came in, in large numbers, that they were compelled to run away from the space," said Apeksha Priyadarshni, a JNUSU councillor.
Aishe said that she will also file a complaint with the police and the JNU admin as well. "I will file an FIR naming people who were involved. We are also gathering videos taken there by students. We are writing to the Chief Proctor as well mentioning the events that took place," said Aishe. The ABVP too have filed complaints and both sides are now set to organise a march on campus, in the evening. The ABVP march starts at 4.30 pm from the main gate, while the JNUSU marsh starts an hour later from Ganga Dhaba. Recipe for yet another clash?
The JNU administration came out with a statement, late on November 15 and said that the students are supposed to share the common space "without discrimination". The students are aware that this venue in the JNU campus is a common activity and facility centre for all the students of the university without discrimination, and every student is entitled and free to use the place adhering to the rules of the university," said the statement from the Chief Proctor's office. "Violence and unruly behaviour have no place in an academic institution, and the JNU administration would strongly disapprove of any kind of violence and disorderly conduct in the campus," it added.
The statement from the administration said that the students are advised to use the common facilities available for them in JNU with a sense of cordiality and responsibility, and "in harmony with each other". They also said that students should not pay heed to any "rumours". "Nobody should be allowed to disturb the peaceful existence and functioning of others. JNU administration requests all the students not to go by any rumours that may affect the peaceful academic atmosphere on campus," said the statement from the university.
(This copy has been updated with the JNU administration's statement)