JNU Students' Union room vandalised: Who defaced Rohith Vemula and Bhagat Singh's portraits?

A few photos of the JNU students' union room were posted by students on social media that showed slogans and "ABVP" written on the walls
Picture: Edexlive
Picture: Edexlive

The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union has alleged that the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) has defaced graffiti of Rohith Vemula and a picture of Bhagat Singh in the Union room. Why? Because the defacing was basically the word ABVP spray painted on the walls of the room and across the two portraits. 

While the ABVP said they did not know of any vandalism and merely writing their organisation's name on the wall cannot be seen as vandalism, they also filed a complaint to apprehend those who defaced the Swami Vivekananda statue before the unveiling and wrote anti-bramhin slogans across campus. But is all of it eventually part of a powerplay to grab the attention of new students coming back on campus? 

A few photos of the JNU Students' Union room were posted by students on social media that showed slogans and "ABVP" written on the walls. In one of the photos, one can see that red paint has been used to cover up Rohith Vemula's and Bhagat Singh's pictures. "We got to know about the incident yesterday. This is the third time this vandalism has happened. The previous two times students had painstakingly painted over all the scribblings but this time they have crossed all limits as they have defaced the images of Rohith Vemula and Bhagat Singh," said JNUSU Councillor and BASO member Apeksha Priyadarshini. "The Union office has held pictures and artwork from across the political spectrum for a very long time, as a tradition representing the ideas that our university and we stand for. By defacing the artwork, they think they can whitewash our ideas. If they had the strength to debate on their politics through ideas, they wouldn't need to do this. This is an act of cowardice," she added.

The room does not only belong to the JNUSU or the party in power. It's for everyone. But that does not give anyone the right to deface an artwork or the wall, said JNUSU President Aishe Ghosh. "The Union room does not belong to one organisation. There are basic ethics that we try to maintain in the union room. We pass it on to the next union or the next set of students who come in. ABVP had once held office and there will be other organisations who will come in. We have called for an all-organisation meeting to discuss the issue," said JNUSU President Aishe Ghosh. "This is not the first time in the past few months that the ABVP has scribbled something or defaced the walls of the Union room. Once the new students started coming, they have started showing their true colours," she added.

ABVP's JNU Unit President Shivam Chaurasia said that there were slogans and organisation names written on the walls even before and this does not really amount to defacing. "Just because we wrote our organisation's name on the wall should you call it vandalisation? But I do not know who wrote these. I will have to confirm," he added. The ABVP also reiterated their complaint from 2019, about defacing the Swami Vivekananda statue on campus. "A campus should have all kinds of discussions but does that mean that it's right to make people from the general category or a particular caste feel like outcasts with slogans like 'Brahmins quit India'?" asked Shivam.

This incident from 2019 has not found a resolution yet. "I, as the JNUSU President, challenge the admin and the ABVP to show from CCTV footage that left organisations were involved in that vandalism. Why weren't the perpetrators identified yet?" asked Aishe. "I want to ask ABVP, they've had huge wall posters like other organisations across the campus, have they been torn down by other students? All of them were taken down when the administration said this is defacing public property," said Aishe.

The JNU administration had in 2019 said that anyone putting up posters or painting on the walls would be in violation of the Delhi Defacement of Property Act, 2007 and university rules. "Any person found violating above instructions shall render themselves liable for action/penalty in terms of the Act and university rules,” read a circular from PK Joshi, Director, Swachh JNU, on July 20, 2019. The decision to ban posters had caused much unrest on campus.

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