Members of the RSS-affiliated ABVP and the Left-backed AISA clashed early Monday, with both groups accusing each other of attacking their supporters, hours after the JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) poll results were announced.
Violence erupted on the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus after a united front of Left student groups on Sunday won all four central panel posts in the union defeating the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) by considerable margins.
While the AISA alleged that ABVP members randomly attacked students, with a former student being almost “lynched” and the new JNUSU president being beaten up, the RSS-affiliate claimed its activists were attacked by Left supporters and three were injured.
This is the second incident of the two groups clashing on campus, the last being on Saturday ahead of the counting, which was suspended after election authorities cited “forcible entry” and “attempts to snatch away ballot boxes”.
Five FIRs have been registered in connection with the alleged incidents of violence on the JNU campus on Saturday and the early hours of Monday, a senior police officer said.
Newly-elected JNUSU president N Sai Balaji alleged that he was beaten up in the early hours of Monday by ABVP activists.
“Today, ABVP students randomly attacked students. I was called to the scene at Sutlej (hostel). As the elected JNUSU president, I went to ensure the safety of a student who was attacked by ABVP students with sticks.
“On reaching, what I saw was mayhem. The mob, led by ABVP members, was baying for blood of any student they thought was a friend of the student who they were attacking,” Balaji said.
He claimed that ABVP members “openly threatened him...and other students present there, with dire consequences if they intervened to stop the violence”.
“The group turned into a mob and started attacking a former JNU student in the Jhelum hostel and chased him, and almost lynched him in the lawns. I ran with other students to save him, who had fallen unconscious after the beating, and took him to an ambulance,” Balaji said.
He said some students asked him to sit inside a Police Control Room (PCR) van after the situation got out of control.
The mob stopped the van and an ABVP student sat in it. Two ABVP members were repeatedly stopping it, Balaji claimed.
The PCR van’s doors were opened and “I was threatened and physically assaulted” by ABVP students, the JNUSU president claimed.
However, the ABVP claimed that their members were roughed up by AISA activists. They claimed the Left activists even roughed up one of their members, who is differently-abled.
“Three JNU students affiliated to the ABVP were attacked by the criminals hiding as champions of Communist ideology. 15-20 Left workers, including non-students,...(attacked the students),” the ABVP said.
It alleged that the Left workers entered the room of a student and hit him with sticks and punched him.
“The targeted violent attacks by the Left on ABVP students is a clear sign of an evil design unfolding on the campus. AISA-SFI and their allies have decided to turn things ugly on the JNU campus. The Left wants turmoil on the campus,” they said.
The ABVP and the AISA have both filed complaints against each other at the Vasant Kunj police station.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Southwest) Devender Arya said the situation is under control and five FIRs have been registered in connection with the case.
“The PCR got calls about a scuffle between students in JNU around 3 am. Subsequently, we had a discussion with university authorities, students and professors.
“Complaints have been received in Vasant Kunj (North) police station. Legal action is being taken on merit. The situation is under control and normal. Police arrangements are in place,” he said.
The JNU Teachers’ Association took out a protest march against the violence. Several students and university workers joined the protest.
JNU student leader Shehla Rashid Monday tweeted, “ABVP should change its Twitter handle from @ABVPVoice to @ABVPViolence and its full form from Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarthi Parishad to Akhil Bhartiya Violence Parishad.”
Former JNU student leader Umar Khalid said the ABVP has been unleashing violence on the campus for the past three days.
“For the last 3 days, ABVP goons are unleashing violence in JNU, beating up students including women. Students rushed to the hospital, FIRs filed. But, the VC @mamidala90 has not spoken a word, tacitly encouraging these goons by his inaction. Shameless creature, blot on JNU!” he tweeted.
Lawyer Prashant Bhushan tweeted, “If even after being badly trounced in #JNUSUelections2018 ABVP can resort to such violence on elected & former Presidents of JNU Students Union, imagine what would have happened had they won. Now you can understand what Shah means by saying, ‘If we win 2019, we continue for 50 yrs’.” He was referring to BJP president Amit Shah’s remarks.
While the Left claimed the ABVP is stressed after losing the polls by a considerable margin, the ABVP claimed the Left has only won because four parties came together to form the ‘United Left’ alliance and would not have made gains had the four parties not come together.
The Left-backed All India Students’ Association (AISA), Students’ Federation of India (SFI), Democratic Students’ Federation (DSF) and All India Students’ Federation (AISF) came together to form the ‘United Left’ alliance.