When Christophe Jaffrelot’s Hindu Nationalism saved JNU student from mob
The mob that charged into JNU’s Sabarmati hostel on Sunday evening did not spare much, except the women’s hostel section, which was protected by the inmates who formed a human chain to ward them off.
Two mattresses, muddied and littered with glass shards, lay dishevelled on the floor of a room in JNU’s Sabarmati hostel.On a shelf next to them lay a copy of ‘Marx, Engels and Lenin on Historical Materialism’, an entry pass for a research workshop, and an empty coffee mug — all covered by a thin film of white powder.
The white powder was the residue from a fire extinguisher that lay discarded in the middle of the room on Monday. The extinguisher was used to break open the door, moments before some students who had taken shelter inside managed to escape through the balcony.
A Kashmiri student lives in this room that was particularly targeted by the mob. “Some of the attackers were repeatedly asking for the room in which the Kashmiri lived,” said Surya Prakash, a visually challenged student thrashed by the mob.
This room was among the most vandalised in the hostel. The mob that charged into the hostel on Sunday evening did not spare much, except the women’s hostel section, which was protected by the inmates who formed a human chain to ward them off.
With many students maintaining that the mob which targeted them comprised Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) members, the Right-wing student body was quick to refute all allegations. The ABVP denied any role in the violence, and instead blamed the students of Left and Left-leaning organisations of orchestrating Sunday evening’s violence.
On Monday, the main door of the hostel stood shattered— the jagged ends of broken glass and a rusty rod lying nearby bore witness to Sunday’s violence.
Across the damaged door, students put up a large pink poster announcing that the two wardens of the hostel were “out of bounds”. While there was no word from the JNU administration on the fate and future of these wardens, students said one of them resigned Monday.
In one room, two beds were out of place and the door bore marks of a confrontation.
“We had pushed the beds against the door to prevent it from breaking. The mob tried hard for 20 minutes before one of them said, ‘this is a strong door’,” said Mirza Obaidurrahman Beg, an MA student.
Hostel residents alleged that the mob was picking on certain rooms that had politically vocal students and spared those associated with the ABVP. “I am not associated with any party, but the mob barged into my room and thrashed me because my door had a spray painting of Ambedkar,” visually challenged Prakash said.
One of the many rooms locked from outside on Monday had a poster of singer Bob Marley on the floor. “The mob told students in this room that Marley was Left-leaning. They left when students convinced them that they had no ideology,” Udita, a PhD student, said.
In the hostel mess below that floor, students ate their lunch while staring at the broken doors of the canteen that brought back the horrors of the previous night. Soon, many students left the hostel for their homes or Delhi homes of relatives and friends.
Rakesh Kumar Arya, a first-generation learner from Rajasthan, pursuing his PhD from the varsity, sat in his room and spoke of a book, ‘Hindu Nationalism’, by Christophe Jaffrelot.
“The mob broke into my room and pushed me against the balcony door. They said they would spare me if I could prove that I was with the ABVP. I pointed to the book on which I am doing my PhD thesis. That has now become my holy book,” Arya said.