Forty-nine-year-old Sunil Ambekar, the national organising secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), has no qualms about the RSS-affiliated outfit challenging the Leftist thought which, he feels, has dominated campuses for long. In an interview with Hindustan Times, Ambekar, while denouncing violence, said ABVP will not compromise with issues concerning ‘national integrity’. Excerpts:
ABVP is being accused of beating students at Ramjas College?
Whatever happened at Ramjas College should not be treated as a political issue. The issue is larger and beyond the incident. Whenever the national integrity is mocked at, it is the duty of students to come out and oppose it. Some people are politicising it and it has nothing to do with governments. I believe that the whole country is with us on this issue. We were not opposed to the seminar. But, we will not allow a person like Umar Khalid to speak at campuses.
It is being alleged that police protected ABVP students who were resorting to violence.
Police do not discriminate while controlling the crowd. We have visual proof showing how police even beat our students. Yes, had cops acted more professionally, things would have been controlled in time. But, more than police action, we should discuss why a person who shouts slogans calling from disintegrating the country (Umar Khalid) was invited. The entire episode is being exaggerated to divert the attention from main issue. We know what happens in Bastar — violence in the garb of Maoism. The irony of it is that people who support Maoism are complaining of violence at Ramjas College.
Some say ABVP is enjoying the patronage of the Narendra Modi government.
There have been cases lodged against our students elsewhere in the country even after 2014. Recently, six ABVP students were arrested in Pune. Our students faced police wrath in Bhopal… It is not that we have just emerged on campuses. We are being targeted because people cannot accept that we are growing.
Does ABVP believe violence is the only way to make its presence felt?
There is no place for violence in democracy. The Ramjas incident, as I said, is being exaggerated. If you want to talk about violence, talk about Maoism, terrorism and political violence. We should rather discuss people who espouse disintegration of country.
Umar Khalid is out on bail. Police are yet to file a chargesheet.
We will not allow him to speak on any campus. He talked enough on February 9 (2016) when he talked about “bharat ki barbaadi”. There is a video proof. The question of chargesheet not being filed will not mean that he has not said this.
Why is ABVP so opposed to freedom of expression?
Where has this freedom been curtailed? But whenever it is a question about national integrity, we will not take it lying down. There is a prejudice towards Indian history, culture and mythology which is the root of the problem. That is why we should revisit our past and we are challenging it.
Shouldn’t there be space for alternative thoughts?
The left is the established thought on campuses. This is why we want to challenge it and that is what has made them (left) restless.
Why is it like that ABVP wants to live in past?
Unfortunately, people judge us without studying us. They should do research on us before criticising us. The perception that we live in past is wrong. Otherwise ABVP would not be the biggest organisation. We do not just think about past. Yes, we respect it. India came into existence thousands of years ago. Talking about the glorious history that we had helps to beam with confidence to make our coming generations self-dependent.