Arguing that there are ‘excessive rights’ in India, a top functionary of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad has said that controversies have arisen because it is seeking to stop the ‘misuse of democratic rights’.
Sunil Ambekar, the ABVP’s national organizing secretary, also claimed, in an exclusive interview to HT, that the violence in the Patiala House courts was a ‘reflection of janakrosh, people’s anger’.
Brushing aside the criticism against the outfit for curbing free speech and using its proximity to state power to intervene in campus disputes, Ambekar, who serves as the link between the Sangh’s top leadership and the student outfit, said they were not on the ‘back-foot’.
When asked whether ABVP – which stood for protection of democratic rights during the Emergency – was in the forefront of now curtailing it, Ambekar claimed all democratic freedoms including that of political dissent was intact.
He said in no other place would ‘anti national slogans’ be given such space followed by a debate about it.
“I think people have got excessive rights sometimes and JNU incident is an example of that. Some people have got used to misusing the rights. That misuse is being stopped and so they are talking about all this. They were in the practice of misusing these rights in the name of freedom, human rights, feminism, secularism, freedom of expression. This is being stopped and should be stopped...We will be in the forefront of this,” he said.
Asked for his views on the violence in the court on Monday, Ambekar claimed it was a reflection of ‘people’s anger’.
“You see what happens there is an India-Pakistan match. You can feel how alert people are about national unity and integrity. Understand people’s hurt and anger. There are people who have lost their dear ones, who remain in fear about the next blast. In such a country, in a capital like Delhi, in a university like JNU, if such slogans are raised, there will be janakhrosh, people’s anger,” Ambekar said.
He did not condemn the incident, and said people should think more about those who ‘support incidents supporting terrorism’.
Ambekar rejected the perception that the Sangh was deliberately targeting JNU because of its left dominated politics. He argued the university was receiving the same support that it did over the past two years of the Modi government; and the ABVP had not asked for the ‘closure of any departments or any programmes’.
“We have only pin-pointed specific program – when there was a matter of celebrating Afzal Guru during the cultural evening. That is what we did at Hyderabad also — how can you celebrate Yakub Memon. There can be no compromise with national integrity. Those who want to create trouble are using masks of Dalits, of Ambedkar, of free expression, of human rights,” Ambekar said.
But there was no evidence that the JNUSU president had attacked national unity and integrity.
The ABVP official responded that those who had organized the event in JNU had published their pamphlets, and its intent was clear.
“Kanaihya was an important part of that gathering. Only an enquiry can tell us what video is available. What is clear is that despite being JNUSU president, he was a part of that program and led it,” the ABVP leader said.
He added that the slogan-shouting had to be seen in the context of India’s security threats, and appealed to the left leaders to enquire into their JNU units.
“They should expel Kanaihya and ask him why he went to this place, an evening for Afzal Guru and cooperate with investigation,” he said.