Teachers, students and journalists were wounded on the Delhi University campus on Wednesday as group clashes broke out over the disruption of a literary festival in Ramjas College a day ago, allegedly by members of the ABVP.
Violence erupted after students from Delhi University colleges and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) congregated outside Ramjas with the intention to hold a protest march against the RSS-backed ABVP student group.
They were demanding action against the ABVP members who had allegedly hackled and threw stones at students gathered for a seminar at a conference hall on Tuesday, where controversial JNU student Umar Khalid was invited to speak.
Before the march took off past 2pm, ABVP members reached the spot and clashed with the demonstrators despite heavy police deployment.
Policemen tried to picket out the two groups, but blows and stones have left many wounded already. Many of the protesters were detained, while a case of rioting, obstructing a public servant from discharging his duty, and causing hurt was registered against unknown people later in the evening.
“ABVP members attacked us with stones. Police remained a mute spectator while we were beaten up mercilessly. At least a dozen of us have been taken to hospital. The ABVP doesn’t believe in freedom of speech,” said Kawalpreet Kaur, a member of the Left-leaning All Indian Students Association (AISA).
Journalists recording the incident on their cell phone were also attacked.
Members of the Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) were among the marchers. They too were assaulted.
Khalid was arrested last year in a case of sedition over organising a rally on the JNU campus in which anti-India slogans were allegedly heard. Rashid was the then the JNU student union vice president.
Students owing allegiance to the ABVP were unhappy with the invite to Khalid and Rashid.
The ABVP justified their protest, alleging that anti-national slogans were shouted at Ramjas on Tuesday.
They claimed to have a video showing students shouting “Bastar Mange Azaadi” and “Kashmir Mange Azaadi”. The footage could not be independently verified.
“Slogans for Kashmir’s azaadi were heard in the college. We won’t let DU become JNU. Ours was an absolutely peaceful march and we only want action in this case. We were beaten up by students for being nationalistic,” said Satinder Awana, former DUSU president and ABVP member.
The ABVP denied charges that its members turned violent.
But Vinita Chandra, a teacher at Ramjas, said students shouted slogans for freedom of speech.
“I was there in yesterday’s march, which the ABVP is referring to. There were no such slogans. The ABVP just wants to twist the events because they have nothing to justify their violence,” she said.