JNU students clash over non-veg food in canteen

  • Chicken is served at the mess on Sundays for non-vegetarian students and paneer is on the menu for vegetarians.
JNU students protested outside the Vasant Kunj police station till late Sunday night. (HT Photo)
JNU students protested outside the Vasant Kunj police station till late Sunday night. (HT Photo)
Published on Apr 11, 2022 02:06 AM IST
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By, Sadia Akhtar, New Delhi

At least six students suffered injuries at Jawaharlal Nehru University after two groups from different outfits clashed over a hostel mess serving non-vegetarian food on the occasion of Ram Navmi on Sunday, according to the police and accounts by students from the two sides who also shared photos on social media.

Chicken is served at the mess on Sundays for non-vegetarian students and paneer is on the menu for vegetarians.

According to deputy commissioner of police (south west) Manoj C, six students suffered minor injuries and the two outfits were protesting till late Sunday night on the campus “peacefully”.

JNU students’ union (JNUSU) president and member of the Left-wing outfit Students Federation of India (SFI) Aishe Ghosh alleged that members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) created a ruckus, and assaulted members of the Kaveri Hostel mess over cooking of chicken on Sunday. ABVP members alleged that members of Left-wing student outfits disrupted a prayer ceremony organised on the occasion of Ram Navmi by shouting slogans.

Till late Sunday night, Left groups stood outside Vasant Kunj police station demanding to meet the district DCP.

A senior police officer confirmed that complaints have been received from both sides.

According to students, members of the ABVP first objected to chicken being served as part of the dinner menu at Kaveri Hostel mess on Sunday, and then assaulted members of the mess committee.

“As per the pre-decided mess menu, non-vegetarian food is cooked for non-vegetarian students on Sunday, and paneer is prepared for vegetarian students. ABVP students, however, raised objections to the preparation of non-vegetarian food on Ram Navmi. They said that they were organising a Ram Navmi event around the hostel and will ensure that no non-vegetarian food is cooked,” said a first-year PhD student, who asked not to be named.

He said that when the mess committee members were collecting meat packets from a vendor around 4pm, some ABVP members reached there and first objected to the non-vegetarian food on the menu and then allegedly assaulted the mess secretary.

AISA JNU secretary Madhurima Kundu also alleged that members of ABVP assaulted her. There were also allegations of stone pelting but could not be verified.

Rohit Kumar, president of the JNU unit of ABVP, said no member of the outfit was involved in the row. He said some residents of the Kaveri Hostel had planned a Ram Navmi pooja on Sunday which was disrupted by members of Left-wing outfits. “The poster for the pooja had been put up three days ago. Since then, some members of Left-leaning outfits were saying that they will not allow the event to take place on the campus. The pooja was delayed since students were raising slogans,” said Kumar. He added that ABVP was only standing in solidarity with the students who were performing the prayers.

There was no reaction from the JNU administration over the violence despite repeated attempts to reach the vice-chancellor and the registrar.

“Friends, ABVP does it again. First, they tried to impose non-veg ban on everybody in Kaveri Hostel, and when common students stood up against #FoodFascism, the Sanghi goons resorted to all-out violence. Students are facing serious wounds,” JNUSU president Ghosh tweeted.

Shivam Chaurasia, member of ABVP’s JNU unit, tweeted a video of an injured student and accused the members of Left outfits of attacking ABVP members. “Communists have attacked ABVP members,” alleged Chaurasia.

He added that ABVP had no involvement in either holding the pooja or disrupting any mess activity, as claimed by Left groups.

In a written statement, the JNUSU, which is controlled by the Left outfits, said that ABVP members created a “violent atmosphere” at Kaveri Hostel. “They are forcing and attacking the mess committee to change the dinner menu and exclude the usual non-vegetarian items in it for all students. The menu has food items for both vegetarian and non-vegetarian students who can consume it based on their personal choice,” JNUSU said.

In a letter to the dean on Sunday, members of the Kaveri Hostel and the mess committee said despite the fact that the menu for April 10 was pre-decided by the committee through hostel general body meetings, a group of people arbitrarily asked the mess manager to not cook chicken on Sunday.

“The mess manager complied without informing the mess and hostel committee. The vendor who came to deliver chicken to the Kaveri Hostel was verbally abused, threatened and manhandled. Students from outside of Kaveri Hostel (non-residents) verbally abused and physically assaulted hostel committee members,” the letter said.

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