On Sunday evening, Surya Prakash, a Sanskrit research scholar at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, was absorbed in his reading. A visually impaired student, he had moved into room number 051 of the Sabarmati hostel on the campus on August 5.
“My research is on the Sankara bhashya of the Brahmasutra,” he said. Written by Adi Sankara, the philosophical work is a commentary on the Brahmasutra, which is one of the three foundational texts of Vedanta along with the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads.
At around 7 pm, masked men and women wielding iron rods, lathis and other weapons barged into the hostel premises. They were pursuing students who had been protesting against the recent decision of the JNU administration to increase hostel fees. The protesting students had called for a boycott of registrations for the semester.
“Several persons barged into my room and started thrashing me,” Surya Prakash recalled, as he sat on the same bed in his room on Monday morning. “I heard voices of women also.”
As the people began assaulting him, Prakash shouted to them that he was visually impaired. “They just did not listen to me,” he said. “They said I am probably lying and continued the assault for a few minutes.”
The research scholar said he had not taken part in any of the protests nor was he affiliated to any political group. “I was very scared because at that moment I did not know why they were beating me,” he said. “The fact that I am studying Sanskrit and an important work of Hinduism did not matter” to the attackers.
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Gaurav, another resident of the Sabarmati hostel, said that Prakash was probably targeted because there was a picture of BR Ambedkar painted on his hostel door. “The goons targeted rooms with such posters,” the student said.
Prakash had to visit the hospital twice on Sunday due to the pain inflicted by the blows to his arm and his back. “The was severe swelling,” he said. “The doctors gave me injections.”
He said the harassment has not ended. “Since Monday morning, I have been receiving calls from unknown people threatening me to not speak to the media,” he said.