Wednesday, Sep 28, 2022

Students Lead Protests Across India In Solidarity With JNU; Parties Condemn Attack

The JNUSU president has alleged a 'nexus' between the campus security guards and the vandals.

Students stage a protest over violence that took place on December 5, at the main gate of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi. PTI Photo

The attack on students and teachers at the Jawarharlal Nehru University by unidentified goons triggered protests across India on Monday and drew sharp reactions from Opposition parties.

Clamour grew from many quarters, including JNU Teachers' Association (JNUTA), for the resignation of the vice-chancellor who is being blamed for inaction during the violence that left 34 people injured.

As horrific first-person accounts emerged of the attack on Sunday evening, including on JNU students union president Aishe Ghosh who suffered head injury, Delhi Police said no arrests have been made. The police said they have transferred the case to the Crime Branch, who claimed to have found "vital clues."

Politicians of all parties condemned the violence. The opposition and JNU students blamed the ABVP, the students' wing of the RSS for the violence, and accused the Delhi Police of inaction. The BJP said campuses should not become a political battleground.

Also Read | Night After Mob Violence At JNU, Anger Grows Against Varsity VC, Delhi Police For 'Inaction'

On Sunday evening, a mob of masked young people stormed the JNU campus in south Delhi and systematically targeted students in three hostels, unleashing mayhem with sticks, stones and iron rods, hitting inmates and breaking windows, furniture and personal belongings. They also attacked a women's hostel.

"It was an organised attack. They were singling out people and attacking," Ghosh told reporters. "There is a clear nexus between the JNU security (staff) and vandals. They did not intervene to stop violence."

The ABVP has denied being responsible, and in turn, has blamed Ghosh's Left-supported union of stage managing the violence. It also claimed that many of its activists were injured, but has not presented any to the media.

"The horrifying and unprecedented violence unleashed on India’s young by goons with active abetment of the ruling Modi government is deplorable and unacceptable," alleged Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Union minister Smriti Irani said campuses should not be made a "political battlefield" and hoped students would not become political pawns.

Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal, said educational institutions cannot be allowed to become "political adda" and vowed "strong action" against the perpetrators of the violence at JNU.

With no face to Sunday night's terror, videos of which did endless rounds on social media and news channels, the tide of anger showed no signs of ebbing.

Also Read | 'Specifically Targeted, Attacked By Masked Persons With Iron Rods': JNUSU President Aishe Ghosh

Protests against the citizenship amendment act and the attack against students of JNU -- which has seen a 70-day strike against the hike in fees -- segued into one with students being joined by parties across the political spectrum to call for accountability.

Apart from agitations at JNU, large protests took place Monday in universities in Pondicherry to Chandigarh and Aligarh to Kolkata. Protests were also held at the National Law University in Bangalore, IIT-Bombay, and IIT-Delhi.

In Mumbai, the protest by students at the Gateway of India that started at midnight continued. NSUI, the youth wing of the Congress Party, took out a torchlight march through central New Delhi. Students held two protests in Kolkata.

In Nepal, JNU alumni gathered at Maitighar Mandala in Kathmandu to voice their protest, as did students at Oxford University and University of Sussex in Britain and at Columbia University in the US.

Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yadav, BSP chief Mayawati, Shiv Sena chief and Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, among others, also condemned the violence.

Bollywood spoke up too. "Horrifying", "heartbreaking" and "barbaric" is how many in the film industry, including actors-filmmakers Anil Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Rajkummar Rao, Anurag Kashyap and Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, described the attack.

The JNU campus was a battle zone with the shattered windowpanes and the shards of glass mute testimonies of the violence the night before.

Also Read | Column: JNU Attack Is Brutal Act Against Reason By Majoritarian Government

Among many who witnessed the attack on Sunday night, a Kashmiri student, requesting anonymity, said he was chased by the mob and had jumped from the first floor with his friends. A visually challenged student was beaten too at Sabarmati hostel.

The Home Minister spoke to Delhi LG Anil Baijal and requested him to call representatives from JNU for discussions, officials said. However, Shah did not mention JNU when he addressed a gathering in Delhi later in the day.

The HRD Ministry, on its part, met officials from the JNU administration and took stock of the situation on the campus. Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar skipped the meeting but said a detailed report on the sequence of events has been sent to the Ministry.

 (With PTI inputs)