Blood on campus: 2 Sundays, 3 universities; earlier police, now masked men
If students are future of a nation then India’s future is under attack in premier universities that send administrators, policymakers and legislators, who run and rule the country. Students have been beaten up black and blue inside three top universities at least three times over two Sundays beginning December 15.
First it happened in Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi. Following violent clashes during protest called by Jamia students over the Citizenship Amendment Act during the day, police entered the university campus and thrashed students without discriminating between those throwing stones at security personnel and those studying in library.
The same night, Sunday, December 15, Uttar Pradesh police entered the campus of Aligarh Muslim University and beaten up students. More than 1,000 students were booked. This happened following violent clashes during the day during protest over the Citizenship Amendment Act.
In both incidents, allegations flew thick and fast from both sides with police and right wing outfits – both engaged in student and national politics – on one hand and the Left wing outfits – both engaged in student and national politics — blaming one another for violence and police action inside university campuses.
And now, it was time for the Jawaharlal Nehru University to witness violence and beating up of students. The only difference was that maskmen entered the JNU campus, apparently unopposed by the university security, and hounded up student not sparing even those in the girls’ hostel. A police officer told news agency ANI around 10.15 pm that “situation continues to be normal inside the JNU campus. Delhi Police had entered the campus on the written request from the JNU administration.”
But the officer said nothing on how maskmen entered in numbers exceeding a dozen armed with sticks and attacked students. Several students including those belonging to Left wing students’ unions claimed those men wearing masks were cadres of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), students’ wing affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Around 9.40 pm, many students were seen fleeing the campus. Several of them told Indiatoday.in that they “were being chased by police”. One of them said, “They were ABVP goons.” However, he offered no answer what made him believe that the attackers were ABVP people. “Students are hiding in the bushes. They all scared for their life,” he said.
Another eyewitness of the campus turmoil told Indiatoday.in that despite reports of violence on the campus, police personnel “are not to be seen here.”
“The entire stretch from IIT flyover to JNU is drowned in dark, not a single traffic light is switched on. It is total dark on the road that leads to the JNU campus and connects the hostels and JNU administration block. People are being chased. I also got hit by a stick on my thighs. But no one knows who is chasing and why,” the eyewitness told Indiatoday.in.
At least 18 people were injured and admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). Some of the injured are said to be in serious condition.
Earlier in the day, the activists belonging to the ABVP and Left wing students’ unions had clashed during the day over the issue of registration for the new semester. The register began on January 1. Sunday was the last day for registration. The JNU Students’ Union, controlled by the Left wing groups has forced closure of registration opposing recent fee hike.
The ABVP activists were campaigning for opening of registration arguing that blocking registration would lead to loss of semester for those who want to continue their study despite fee hike.
JNU administration had on Saturday requested protesters to let those who want to get registered pay the fee. On Friday, JNU administration said a group of students wearing masks had forcibly evicted all technical staff and switched off power supply to stop the registration process.
It is not yet clear whether the maskmen who attacked students on Sunday evening were the same maskmen who had stopped forced the registration staff to vacate their office two days ago.
At the time of filing of this report, students from both camps – Left and the right – were shouting slogans. The Left wing students shouted slogans seeking action against the ABVP activists while the right wingers shouted slogans such as “Naxalwaad Murdabaad, Humein chahiye azaadi, Naxalwaad se aazaadi” – taking cue from slogans used by the Left wingers.