After Gurmehar, DU students take on ABVP

New Delhi, Feb 28 (IANS) Shouting “ABVP Go Back”, thousands of students marched through Delhi University on Tuesday to denounce the RSS-affiliated body for attacking students, teachers and journalists in the campus.

Some 4-5,000 students, mostly girls, walked from Khalsa College at the edge of the university through the sprawling campus and finally gathered at the Arts Faculty, constantly raising slogans all the time.

Many held banners demanding the right to freedom of speech and condemning the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) for the February 21-22 disturbances in the otherwise placid campus.

“We are here to show solidarity and to make the ABVP understand that DU stands together against violence,” student Hindolee Dutta told IANS.

Dutta was from Lady Shri Ram College, whose student Gurmehar Kaur got death and rape threats after launching a social media campaign against the ABVP.

Gurpreet, a student of Delhi’s Ambedkar University, told IANS: “There have been increasing threats to the rights of citizens and students. Our right to protest has been taken away by the ABVP and RSS.

“This is not just about Delhi University but the whole nation.”

Hindolee and Gurpreet spoke as a mass of students walked slowly towards the Arts Faculty holding banners and shouting slogans. A large number of police personnel accompanied them.

The protest mainly drew students from Delhi University, one of the oldest in the country, as well as a sprinkling from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Ambedkar University and Jamia Millia Islamia.

Several lecturers also joined the march.

On February 21, the ABVP forced the Ramjas College in the campus to axe a seminar due to the participation of a JNU student charged with sedition last year.

The next day, ABVP activists were accused of attacking students, teachers and journalists during a protest march.

Protesters insisted their march on Tuesday was not political but for freedom in the campuses.

“I was bruised on the 22nd because of stone pelting. I don’t belong to any political party. I am here to protest against violence,” said a Ramjas College girl student who did not want to be named.

A lecturer who joined the show of strength underlined that she was there “for the safety of students threatened by the ABVP”.

Another teacher, Avinash, added: “This is not about ABVP, this is about hooliganism. The people who indulged in violence are not nationalists, they are macho elements.”

“ABVP Down Down,” “ABVP Go Back” and “ABVP Don’t be Creepy” were among the slogans the students raised. Another was: “Delhi Police, Sanghi Police.”

The call for Tuesday’s march was given by the Left-leaning All India Students Association but attracted even those who are not with the group. Former JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar also joined the protest.

Among the political leaders who addressed the students were D. Raja (CPI), Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) and Yogendra Yadav (Swaraj Abhiyan).

Also on Tuesday, members of the Congress-affiliated National Students Union of India (NSUI) staged a hunger strike in the campus, also against the ABVP.

“After the Ramjas violence, a majority of students who want a peaceful campus are scared… There is hardly any space for debate,” NSUI President Amrita Dhawan told IANS. “Nothing justifies violence.”

On Monday, the ABVP held a “Tiranga march” in the university. It has said it will organise another show of strength on Thursday.