Misplaced patriotism: Voices of dissent invite violence

A two-day seminar was scheduled to take place in Ramjas college of Delhi University. However, it turned out to be one full of violent clashes and threats due to the interference of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). This is the students wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

The seminar was called ‘Cultures of Protests’ and was organised by the literature department of Ramjas college. Some of the guests invited were Umar Khalid, Bimol Akojiam and Sanjay Kak. ABVP was against the invitation of Umar Khalid, who had to speak on Adivasi protests. Since he was doing a Ph.D. thesis on the topic. According to them he was involved in anti national sloganeering that took place in Jawaharlal Nehru University last year. They protested, vandalized college property and threatened the college students and professors. Even though the students of Ramjas themselves had no issue with the seminar taking place, the ABVP decided to take the whole issue in their hands.

This is not the first time ABVP has come under lime light for causing violence on campus and inconvenience to the students and teachers. In August 2015 the ABVP disrupted the screening of Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai at Kirorimal college of Delhi University. According to them the film contained anti- religious elements. They also vandalised the history department of Delhi University. This was due to the inclusion of an essay titled ‘Three Hundred Ramayanas’ by AK Ramanujan in the recommended reading list of BA. English Honours students.

On 21st February The ABVP members not only blocked the entrance of the conference hall but also pelted stones on students who came to attend the seminar. On the same day the students of the college held a protest march from campus to Maurice Police Station. When they returned back they were greeted by ‘ABVP goons’. A term used by the students for the ABVP members. They were shouting slogans such as Vande Mataram and Bharat Mata Ki Jai. They also threw stones and tree branches at the people. They had no right to display such hooliganism in an educational institution. According to the students, the role of the police should have been more and they could have prevented the escalation of violence.

The students had just held a protest march to voice their right of freedom of speech and expression. In result they had to go through the brutal force unleashed on them by ABVP.  Not only students but also some journalists were injured. Somreet Bhattacharya from Times of India and Tarun Kumar from the Quint suffered injuries and had to be rushed to the hospital. Amongst people injured also included some teachers of Delhi University.

There is an air of fear lingering around the college premises. The shocking things is there is eye witness accounts of all these events. There are also videos of ABVP members beating up female students in front of a large crowd. Students living in pg and hostels are getting death threats.  These messages warn the students of consequences if they step outside their hostels. Even though we have so much of evidence, both the government and police have remained a mute spectator amongst all the violence.

While the police and government have taken a back seat, the students from various colleges are raising their voices. They are using social media to tell people what exactly happened in that day and the violence unleashed upon them. We need to take a stand and stop the ABVP on forcing their version of nationalism on the students.

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