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A march for freedom, Akhtar vs Yogeshwar and Rijiju over Gurmehar: DU updates

Hundreds of students and teachers marched against the ABVP and for free speech in DU’s north campus on Tuesday

Universities Under Attack Updated: Feb 28, 2017 21:24 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent, New Delhi
ABVP,Ramjas protests,Delhi University
Students participate in a protest rally against the ABVP at Delhi University’s north campus on Tuesday. The placard reads, “Say that you are free to speak.” (AP photo)

It’s march vs march at Delhi University’s north campus as hundreds of students and teachers from DU, JNU and Jamia Milia Islamia hit the streets on Tuesday with a call to “save” universities from the “onslaught” of the ABVP. This comes a day after a tiranga march by the ABVP, a students’ body linked to the RSS, on the campus. (HIGHLIGHTS OF THE DAY)

“We are marching to reclaim the space to debate and discuss. It is about the freedom to coexist, yet disagree,” said one student, not wanting to be identified.

Police have been deployed in large numbers in an attempt to prevent a repeat of last week’s large-scale violence when ABVP members clashed with students, teachers and journalists.

Trouble started on February 21 over an invite to JNU students Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid to address a seminar which was withdrawn by Ramjas College following opposition by the ABVP.

As outrage over the Ramjas incident grows, here’s a look at what happened today:


The day began with Gurmehar Kaur, a student of English at Delhi’s Lady Shriram College, withdrawing from the north campus march – variously named Fight Back DU, Students against ABVP and DU against Gundagardi – saying she has shown enough courage and wants to be left alone. “The campaign is about students and not about me. Please go to the March in huge numbers. Best of luck,” Kaur tweeted early Tuesday.


Lyricist Javed Akhtar tweeted in support of Gurmehar Kaur on Tuesday. ( HT file photo )

Lyricist and poet Javed Akhtar hit out at Union minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju for hinting that DU student Gurmehar Kaur, who launched a social media campaign against the ABVP last week, was being influenced by political rivals.

“I don’t about her but Mr Minister I know who is polluting your mind,” Akhtar wrote on Twitter without naming Rijiju.

After the campus clash on February 22, Kaur posted a picture of herself on Twitter and Facebook holding a placard that read: “I am student from Delhi University. I am not afraid of ABVP. I am not alone. Every student of India is with me.”


Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal met Lt Governor Anil Baijal on Tuesday to demand the arrest of

ABVP activists blamed for the violence in Delhi University. The AAP leader said he sought the arrest of “those who caused violence in DU, shouted anti-India slogans and who threatened (student) Gurmehar (Kaur)”.

“He (Baijal) assured strict action,” Kejriwal said.

Minutes after Kaur tweeted her withdrawal from the campaign, Kejriwal had replied.


A day after the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) urged the Delhi Police to investigate alleged rape threats made to DU student Gurmehar Kaur, an FIR was registered by the cyber cell on Tuesday. Senior officials said they have spoken to Kaur and have strengthened protection around her residence and premises to ensure her safety.

The FIR was filed after the DCW forwarded Kaur’s complaint to Delhi Police. A case of outraging the modesty of a woman, criminal intimidation and under the IT Act has been registered against unknown persons, confirmed a senior police officer.


Minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju made yet controversial comment on Tuesday over DU student Gurmehar Kaur. ( AP file photo )

Minister Rijiju continued to stoke controversy over Gurmehar Kaur by referring to her father, Captain Mandeep Singh who was killed during the Kargil war in 1999, even after the DU student pulled out of the protests against the ABVP.

“She is a martyr’s daughter. His soul must be weeping that his daughter is being misguided by those who celebrate on the bodies of martyrs,” NDTV quoted Rijiju as saying.

The minister also clarified his Monday remark, where he asked, “Who’s polluting this young girl’s mind?” Rijiju said he was referring to “the Leftists”.


Olympic medallist Yogeshwar Dutt and Phogat sisters, Geeta and Babita, on Tuesday joined a motley group of celebrities who mocked Gurmehar Kaur for a post that said, “Pakistan did not kill my father. War killed him.”

The Phogats, who have won medals at the Commonwealth Games and the inspiration behind the movie Dangal, were critical of Kaur.

“If you speak against nation, people will obviously not like it. Irrespective of gender, the person won’t be spared,” news agency ANI quoted Geeta as saying.

Younger sister Babita condemned the alleged rape threat against Kaur but refused to stand by her because she “did not speak up for her country”.

“When I saw the video of Gurmehar Kaur, I tweeted on the one thing which I found wrong. She said that her father was killed by war and not by Pakistan…How can her father’s soul rest in peace if she speaks against the nation?” Babita said in an exclusive interview to ANI.


Politicians D Raja (CPI), Sitaram Yechury (CPM), KC Tyagi (JD-U) and Yogendra Yadav (Swaraj India) all turned up in north campus on Tuesday to address students. Raja, who reached the protest site with Yechury, said, “This is a collective fight to defend our constitutional rights. We will be raising the issue of DU in Parliament.”

Yechury said that being Indian and not Hindu is nationalism for him.

“We will learn our nationalism from Bhagat Singh and not from them whose forefathers never hoisted the flag at their headquarters,” said Yadav, in reference to the RSS, which is the ABVP’s parent organisation.

First Published: Feb 28, 2017 18:10 IST