Daughter of army martyr and Delhi University student Gurmehar Kaur announced her decision to withdraw from the campaign against Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) even as the Delhi University braced for protests and counter-protests on Tuesday. Kaur had, on Monday, complained to the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) about receiving death threats on social media. Following up on this, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal meting L-G Anil Baijal later on Tuesday and sought action against ABVP.
Meanwhile, students and teachers from DU and JNU as well as Left and AAP-affiliated student groups have gathered at the Faculty of Arts on north campus over last week’s violence at Ramjas College. Students were different colleges in DU have been joined by JNU’s popular faces such as Kanhaiya Kumar and Shehla Rashid.
Support for the students protesting against ABVP has poured in from international academics as well as other institutions like the Delhi School of Economics. Faculty members of Lady Shri Ram College, where Kaur is a student, also expressed support for her campaign. On Monday, the Delhi University Students Union (DUSU), led by the ABVP, had held a Tiranga March and sought action against those who had allegedly raised ‘anti-national’ slogans during the Ramjas protests last week.
Here are the highlights of the day:
5.40pm: In the meeting of parliamentary standing committee on home affairs, chairman P Chidambaram asked Delhi Police Commissioner about steps taken on Ramjas issue.
5.35pm: Minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju says government will ensure security for Gurmehar Kaur.
5.30pm: Lyricist Javed Akhtar takes a dig at Olympic medallist Yogeshwar Dutt for mocking Gurmehar Kaur by posting her image along with Adolf Hitler, Osama Bin Laden and a Black Buck.
If a hardly literate player or a wrestler troll a pacifist daughter of a martyr its understandable but whats wrong with some educated folks— Javed Akhtar (@Javedakhtarjadu) February 28, 2017
5.05pm: Hearing in connection with a plea, against AISA and FSI members for allegedly raising anti-national slogans outside Ramjas College on February 21, has been posted for consideration on March 6 by a Delhi court. The plea had been filed by an RTI activist.
4.50pm: ABVP plans to take out a protest on March 2 in Delhi University. Another protest by DU students against the ABVP will take place on March 4 from Mandi House to Parliament.
4.30pm:Political parties come out in support of DU students. CPI’s D Raja, CPM’s Sitaram Yechury and JDU’s KC Tyagi address students.
4.25pm: D Raja, who reached the protest site with Sitaram Yechury, says, “This is a collective fight to defend our constitutional rights.We will be raising the issue of DU in Parliament.”
4.18pm: After meeting with the L-G, Kejriwal told reporters: ““BJP stage manages events where anti-national slogans are raised. The ABVP then does goondagardi in campuses... No arrest has still been made in the JNU incident.” Kejriwal said Baijal assured him action in both cases.
4.10pm: Arvind Kejriwal meets L-G Anil Baijal seeks action against ABVP volunteers involved in ‘goondagardi’ in Delhi University and those threatening LSR student Gurmehar Kaur on social media for raising voice against ABVP’s action.
4pm: ABVP says they have filed a complaint in the Gurmehar Kaur case with Delhi Police.
3.55pm: ABVP holds press conference. ABVP national media Saket Bahuguna says, “It is outsiders who indulged in violence and now blame is put on us.”
3.50pm: CPI general secretary Sitaram Yechury and leader D Raja reach the protest site. Yechury says being Indian and not Hindu is nationalism for him.
3.45pm: “We will learn our nationalism from Bhagat Singh and not from them whose forefathers never hoisted the flag at their headquarters,” Yogendra Yadav says in a reference to the RSS, which is ABVP’s parent organisation.
3.40pm: Remembering Jai Prakash Narayan, YogendraYadav says, “Neither will we tolerate nor will we engage in violence”. Says the protest isn’t about ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ but about ‘Wrong’ and ‘Right’.
3.30pm: Addressing protesters, Yogendra Yadav says the only to stand up to ABVP is to be fearless.
3.17pm: Swaraj India founder and political scientist Yogendra Yadav addresses protesters. He says the protest is not about Right or Left but what is wrong.
3.15pm: Meanwhile, Gurmehar Kaur, who has left Delhi, resurfaced on Twitter. Reacting to a tweet by social activist Kavita Krishnan, she said this 30 minutes ago:
:) thank you so much. This makes me so happy. https://t.co/pXjlOv3T8F— Gurmehar Kaur (@mehartweets) February 28, 2017
3.10pm: Protesters have decided to march again on March 4 from Mandi House to the Parliament.
3.08pm: ABVP members stand outside DUSU office to protest against #DUFightBack campaign.
3.02pm: Delhi Police video records the protests.
2.50pm: Members of JNU Teacher’s Association also join the ‘DU fightback’ protests at North Campus.
2.45pm: JNU students Shehla Rashid and Kanhaiya Kumar join the protests at DU.
2.38pm: DU wrapped in a mood of festivity as students march to assert their freedoms and speak up against hooliganism.
2.30pm: Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad says people are politicising the Gurmehar Kaur issue. Adds that freedom of expression should not be used to talk about dividing the country.
2.25pm: Wrestler Babita Phogat, of Dangal fame, joins a list of celebrities who have spoken against Hurmehar Kaur. After Virender Sehwag, Randeep Hooda and Yogeshwar Dutt, she says that Gurmehar’s comments were “ against our nation and martyrs”.
2.20pm: ABVP also lodges a complaint against trolls on social media who allegedly threatened Gurmehar Kaur. In a written complaint to the police, Saket Bahuguna of ABVP has said that none of the office bearers of ABVP were involved in the threats to Kaur and has requested that an FIR be lodged in the case.
2.15pm: Gurmehar Kaur reportedly leaves Delhi in the wake of the backlash to her posts on social media.
2.10pm: The letter by AAP members to Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik reads: “Even the Delhi Police, in dereliction of their duty, failed to detain/arrest these ABVP goondas and was a silent spectator as this tragic cinema of abuse of female rights and oppression of freedom of speech unfolded.”
2.06pm: In a letter to Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik, AAP members allege that there was mass violence against women at the protest march.
2.03pm: Students wave copies of the Preamble to the constitution to assert their rights.
1.50pm: AAP members, Atishi Marlena, Alka Lamba and Sarita Singh meet Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik to demand action against those who perpetuated violence against women on Wednesday at the protest march.
1.45pm: Protest march reaches Sri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) and moves towards Arts Faculty.
1.40pm: Chants ring out in the march hailing Gurmehar Kaur. Gurmehar was supposed to join the march but withdrew after trolls on Twitter and other social media sites allegedly threatened her for her stance against ABVP.
1.20pm: Miranda House has one of the largest contingents at the protest sites. Many of the protesting students claim that they are not affiliated with any political organisation, and are there to solely protest the alleged violence perpetuated by the ABVP.
1.15pm: Students and faculty members condemn the violence on campus. Many participating in the march say that they are there to protect freedom of expression. Others say they are there to exercise their democratic right to protest peacefully.
1.10pm: Thousands of students from various DU colleges have gathered at Khalsa college for the march. Chants of “Hum honge kaamyaab” resonate on campus.
12.55pm: Watch what this Miranda House student, who has come out to join the ‘Save DU’ march, has to say:
12.47pm: NSUI hold a sit in outside Faculty of Arts against violent protests at Delhi University.
12.35pm: Students participating in the march say they are not a part of any political organisation. Schools students also join the protests.
12.20pm: Students from Miranda House college come out in large numbers to take part in protest against violence at Ramjas College.
12.15pm: The case of outraging the modesty of a woman, criminal intimidation and under the IT Act has been registered against unknown persons, confirmed a senior police officer. Speaking on Sunday, Kaur, a martyr’s daughter, had alleged that she had been threatened with rape by some Twitter users affiliated to ABVP.
12.12pm: Cyber cell files FIR over alleged rape threats to Gurmehar Kaur on social media after her campaign against ABVP.
12.10pm: Karmachari union also protests outside the DU Executive Council meet venue to resolve pension issue.
12pm: In a tweet to Gurmehar Kaur, writer Chetan Bhagat expresses his support for her right to have and air her opinions. Gurmehar retweets.
Relax. You did just fine. Whether we may agree with your opinion or not, will always stand up for your right to have and express views. https://t.co/xh5UmQgPeq— Chetan Bhagat (@chetan_bhagat) February 28, 2017
11.40am: DUTA members gather to protest outside the Executive Council meet, where the proposal for autonomous status to St Stephen’s College is to be passed.
11.32am: DSE Students’ Community says they will be distributing black badges on the DSE campus, as emblematic of their solidarity with protests against ABVP.
11.28am: Students of Delhi School of Economics also express solidarity with protests in DU against ABVP.
11.20am: Road towards Arts Faculty closed by the police ahead of #DUFightBack march.
11.12am: Calling the threats received by Gurmehar “reprehensible”, LSR faculty members criticise the response of public figures to her stand. “Responses on social media by public figures such as Virender Sehwag and Randeep Hooda are shameful trivialisation of the intimidation that Gurmehar faces at the hands of violent mobs whose viciousness the university has recently witnessed,” their statement says.
11.10am: In their statement, the LSR teachers say, “We feel that it is the bounden duty of educational institutions to nurture sensitive, responsive and critical thinking students without the fear of violent retaliation. We are proud that Gurmehar has fulfilled her duty as a young citizen of this country.”
11.05am: The statement by LSR faculty reads: “We, the faculty members of the English Department, Lady Shri Ram College unequivocally and strongly support our student Gurmehar Kaur and her right to express her opinion on issues that embroil our university. It is immensely gratifying to us as her teachers that she has responded sensitively, creatively and bravely to events in her immediate context rather than seek the safe refuge of silence.”
10.55am: The English Department of Lady Shri Ram College, where Gurmehar Kaur is a first year student of English Honours, unanimously issues a statement.
10.40am: Lyricist and screenwriter Javed Akhtar hits out at Kiren Rijiju, says ‘Mr Minister, I know who is polluting your mind’.
I don't about her but Mr Minister I know who is polluting your mind .— Javed Akhtar (@Javedakhtarjadu) February 28, 2017
10.10am: JNU students will leave for Khalsa college at around 11am. At a public meeting at JNU on Monday, rights activist and professor at Delhi School of Economics had said that the incidents ranging from anti-national debate at JNU to Rohit Vemula issue in Hyderabad or the latest agitations at DU, cannot be seen in isolation.
9.37am:The letter by academics reads: “The ruling party’s student wing- ABVP- has been emboldened to intervene violently in any attempt by students to have open discussions about matters that the Sangh Parivar deems to be inappropriate. This is thuggish censorship. We stand against it... India’s students and faculty have been brave against these attacks. We stand with them.”
9.35am: International academics, including Akeel Bilgrami, Sidney Morgenbesser professor of philosophy at Columbia University, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, university professor at Columbia University, Joya Chatterji, professor of South Asian history and director of the Centre of South Asian Studies at the University of Cambridge, and Raka Ray, professor of sociology and South and Southeast Asia studies at the University of California (Berkeley), among others, have written a letter condemning the Sangh Parivar and the violence perpetuated by the ABVP in campuses.
Watch what happened on February 22 during the protest against cancellation of a literary festival at Ramjas College:
9.25am: In an unrelated protest, DU Teachers’ Association will be assembling at 11 am outside the vice regal lodge, during the executive council meeting, to raise their voices against a slew of decisions made in the recent past, especially that of granting autonomy status to colleges.
Students, faculty members and non teaching staff of St Stephen’s college had also earlier protested their bid for autonomy.
8.50am: Disgusting and shameful to see a dignified woman being trolled by respectful citizens, for her remarks against politics in DU: Robert Vadra.
8.40am: Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal to meet LG at 2.30 pm to demand action against ABVP and rape threats to DU student Gurmehar Kaur.
7.45am: Gurmehar Kaur urged students to go to turn up in huge numbers as the march is about them and not and individual.
7.40am: Martyr’s daughter Gurmehar Kaur withdraws from ‘Fightback DU’ campaign, requests to be left alone.
In a series of tweets Kaur said that she has shown enough courage and bravery.
I'm withdrawing from the campaign. Congratulations everyone. I request to be left alone. I said what I had to say.. (1/2)— Gurmehar Kaur (@mehartweets) February 28, 2017
One thing is for sure, next time we will think twice before resorting to violence or threats and that's all this was about (2/2)— Gurmehar Kaur (@mehartweets) February 28, 2017
To anyone questioning my courage and bravery.. I've shown more than enough— Gurmehar Kaur (@mehartweets) February 28, 2017
I have been through a lot and this is all my 20 year self could take :)— Gurmehar Kaur (@mehartweets) February 28, 2017
7.30am: The march will begin from Shri Guru Tegh Bahadur (SGTB) Khalsa College at 12.30pm and end at the arts faculty building of DU.
The protests began after a literary event at Ramjas College was called off as the ABVP objected to an invite to controversial JNU students Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid to speak at the seminar. Khalid was accused of organizing an event at JNU last year in which anti-India slogans were heard.
Unhappy with the ABVP’s protest, students and teachers called a counter-demonstration last Wednesday and that turned into a street punch-up.