Published: 11th April 2022
Violence, stone-pelting reported inside JNU after ABVP allegedly objects to non-veg menu at hostel mess
AISA and SFI claimed that ABVP members tried to impose a ban on non-veg food at the mess, ABVP maintains that the left-leaning groups couldn't bear that so many students organised the puja
Communal tension reared its ugly head at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on Sunday, April 10, with reports emerging of manhandled mess workers and assaulted students. At around 5.00 pm on Sunday, students of the All India Students' Association (AISA) claimed that students belonging to ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad) created a ruckus inside the Kaveri Hostel mess on the JNU campus for serving non-vegetarian food on the occasion of Ramnavami.
Some students from ABVP had allegedly tried to stop the mess workers from preparing non-veg meals in the morning, according to a statement by AISA. When the staff resisted and were supported by some students, the ABVP faction reportedly turned violent and assaulted the staff and students at the mess.
According to a letter allegedly written by the mess owner of the Kaveri hostel, the menu for the day was displayed and some students had, "Arbitrarily asked the mess manager not to prepare non-veg food." The letter also claimed that the vendor who arrived to deliver chicken to the hostel was also "badly abused, threatened and manhandled" by the students. The same fate was met by students who came out in support of the vendor and the mess workers, the letter read. "The situation continues to be tense, and we request immediate restoration of normalcy, including pre-decided menus of the Kaveri mess," says the letter.
According to Sidharth Yadav, who is the secretary of the Delhi unit of the ABVP, a Navratri puja had been scheduled at the Kaveri hostel by some students, posters for which had been sent out, and none of which, were created by students from the ABVP, he claimed. "The issue of veg and non-veg has nothing to do with what happened on the spot. There was also an iftar party going on simultaneously. The left-leaning organisations were unable to bear a large number of students organising the puja that does not align with their thoughts," Siddhart says.
Yadav goes on to categorically add that as an organisation, the ABVP "has never said what should be cooked, or what should be eaten.: He says that, "it is completely up to the choice of the individual. They have created this ruckus to gain media attention. Our karyakartas have also been injured. Whatever is happening outside the campus cannot, and should not, give fodder to what is being done inside the campus."
Madhurima, Secretary of the JNU AISA unit also refers to these events outside the campus and says that they empowered the students from ABVP to allegedly carry out the attacks today. South Delhi Mayor Mukesh Suryan had ordered shops selling meat to stay shut on the nine days of Navaratri. AISA claims that students from ABVP were emboldened by this action.
"We called the police around 7.30 pm when the ABVP students had started beating up other students," claims Hareendra Singh, President of the Students' Federation of India, JNU Unit. "The police arrived at 10.30 pm, and it was only a few personnel, who did nothing to help us. I was personally attacked. They said, 'Tujhe kal dekhenge' (we will see you tomorrow)," says Hareendra.
Stone pelting has begun, claimed WhatsApp group messages at around 8.30 pm on Sunday. In videos shared by both sides, students seem to be grimacing in pain as stones land and they retaliate with some of their own. We ask Siddharth if what happens outside the campus is fanning the flames of division within, and he says, "Eating habits or choice are extremely personal, and it should be limited to what the person wants. This is us, this is the student community. What is happening outside should not divide us."
According to a report by PTI, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Southwest) Manoj C said that a total of six students have received injuries and have been sent to a hospital. "There is no violence as of now. We are all positioned here with our team. At the request of the university, we have come here. We are trying to maintain peace,” he said.
"Presently, the situation is peaceful. Both student groups are protesting peacefully. Appropriate legal action will be taken on receipt of a complaint. The situation is peaceful," the senior police officer added.
AISA and SFI have both said that an attempt was made to communalise the peaceful atmosphere of the campus. The videos of the violence within JNU are going viral on social media. Edexlive has tried to reach out to the JNU Vice-Chancellor Prof Santishree Pandit for a comment. This article will be updated once we receive a reponse.