Ramjas row: 10 things that turned a college brawl into a battle of ideologies

The Ramjas college controversy began over an invite to JNU student Umar Khalid and has now snowballed into a raging debate over nationalism and freedom of expression.
Protests against ABVP continue to rock Delhi University campus.
Protests against ABVP continue to rock Delhi University campus.
Updated on May 12, 2017 12:21 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | By, New Delhi

What started as a small fight in Delhi University's Ramjas College has snowballed into a full-fledged controversy, reigniting the nationalism debate. It has been a week but the anger and protests refuse to die down.

Here are 10 things to know about the row:

1. The Lit Fest: The Ramjas College literary society had invited JNU student Umar Khalid to speak at a seminar on Cultures of Protest on February 21. When the college’s student union, dominated by the ABVP, objected, Khalid’s invitation was withdrawn. Some students then took out a march in the college during which a fight broke out. Some members of the ABVP allegedly threw stones after which the society called off the two-day event.

2. The violence: On February 22, students led by AISA called for a protest march against the cancellation. They were to march from Ramjas to Maurice Nagar police station. But, clashes broke out. Students alleged that some ABVP members beat up teachers and protesting students. They also complained that police did little to check the violence. Journalists, too, were roughed up.

The protest turned violent and a massive clash took place between students near Maurice Nagar police station. (Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)
The protest turned violent and a massive clash took place between students near Maurice Nagar police station. (Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)

3. The protest march: As police did not file an FIR, Left-leaning student groups from JNU and DU protested outside the Delhi Police headquarter near ITO. Delhi Police admitted that the issue could have been handled better and transferred the case to the crime branch. On the campus, the ABVP held a rally and said that during the February 21 march at Ramjas, students and teachers had raised anti-national slogans. The city’s SGTB Khalsa College postponed a drama competition after the ABVP allegedly objected to its content. The NSUI, meanwhile, took out a peace rally against the violence. The home ministry also called for a report from the university.

4. The politics: Several Union ministers said violence would not be tolerated on campus and spoke in favour of the ABVP, the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, the ideological mentor of the BJP. The students and the Left-leaning student groups gave a call for #FightbackDU march on February 28.

5. The pressure: The Delhi Commission of Women (DCW) stepped in and wrote to the Delhi Police over the failure of its personnel to check the violence on February 22. The DCW was acting on a complaint of DU student Gurmehar Kaur. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, too, stepped in and raised his voice against the ABVP. The AISA moved court against police for not filing a separate case over the Ramjas violence .

6. The martyr’s daughter: A student of Lady Shri Ram College, Gurmehar Kaur, whose father was killed in the Kargil war, started a social media campaign “Students Against ABVP”, holding placard, which said she was not afraid of the ABVP. The campaign went viral . A day later, Kaur alleged that she was threatened with rape for standing up to the ABVP.

Delhi University student Gurmehar Kaur’s social media campaign against ABVP went viral.
Delhi University student Gurmehar Kaur’s social media campaign against ABVP went viral.

7. The trolling: Former cricketer Virender Sehwag and actor Randeep Hooda mocked Kaur on Twitter even as she was trolled relentlessly. Minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju wondered who was polluting her “young mind” and soon it was a free-for-all. Later, Olympic medallist Yogeshwar Dutt and lyricist Javed Akhtar also joined in the debate on Twitter.

8. The Tiranga: On February 27, Kaur filed a complaint with the Delhi Commission for Women against the rape threats. The Aam Aadmi Party held a press conference in her support and promised to take up the matter with the Delhi Police chief. Kaur pulled out of a peace march called by students against the ABVP but appealed to students to join in large numbers. LSR’s English department issued a statement showing solidarity with her. Meanwhile, on campus, ABVP took out a Tiranga march. Ramjas College principal called for calm. Protests and counter-protests were held in other parts of the country as well.

Members of ABVP took out a ‘Tiranga March’ on campus.
Members of ABVP took out a ‘Tiranga March’ on campus.

9. The Peace Rally: On February 28, Gurmehar Kaur backed out from the march. Police registered an FIR on a complaint from DCW and provided her security. She left for Jalandhar even as politicians continued to speak against her. Support poured in for Kaur from Javed Akhtar and few others. Students turned up in large numbers at the campus to protest against ABVP. Kanhaiya Kumar and leaders like Sitaram Yechury and D Raja addressed the students. The ABVP held a press conference and called for a march on March 2. They also filed a complaint with the police on behalf of Gurmehar Kaur.

Sudents turned up in large numbers at the campus to protest against ABVP.
Sudents turned up in large numbers at the campus to protest against ABVP.

10. The Petition: A student moved the Delhi high court against the police action on February 22 when women, journalists were allegedly assaulted. Meanwhile, two ABVP activists attacked AISA members after the protest. Police arrests them and ABVP suspended them from membership. .

As the issue continues to boil over, the series of protests and counter-protests will continue this week. On March 2, ABVP will take out a march against anti-nationals. On March 4, there is another call for march from Mandi House to Parliament Street by the opposing teacher and student groups.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Shradha Chettri was part of Hindustan Times’ nationwide network of correspondents that brings news, analysis and information to its readers. She no longer works with the Hindustan Times.

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