Clashes broke out between members of the All India Students Association and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad at Delhi University’s Ramjas College on Wednesday, ANI reported. The college students marched in protest against the cancellation of a seminar on Tuesday where Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid (pictured above) was invited to speak.
The protest march was supposed to start from Ramjas College campus and continue up to Maurice Nagar police station, however, the students were stopped by the ABVP, The Times of India reported. Over 20 students and a few journalists were were injured in clashes.
Professor Abha Dev Habib said that the ABVP, along with the Delhi Police, blockaded Ramjas College on Wednesday afternoon and threatened protestors against holding their march outside the college campus. Professors have urged Ramjas Principal Rajendra Prasad to intervene to stop the ABVP from entering the campus, Habib said.
Slogans against the ABVP were shouted by the members of the protest march. Police barricaded the area and segregated the protesting students from ABVP members. AISA members Kawalpreet Kaur told the Hindustan Times that several female students had complained that they were touched inappropriately during the clashes. Delhi Joint Commissioner of Police, VS Chahal, told ANI that the students who were beaten up during the clashes have been sent for medical exams.
Rudrashish Chakravarty, English professor from Kirori Mal College said that a few ABVP members had thrown chairs and injured two Ramjas professors. Meanwhile, the police removed the students who had camped outside Maurice Nagar police station demanding for an FIR against ABVP for Wednesday’s violence, ANI reported.
A seminar on Tuesday had been cancelled after ABVP members protested against the participation of Khalid and Shehla Rashid Shora. The talk was part of Ramjas College’s Literary Society and English department’s two-day seminar on “Cultures of Protest”. Stones were allegedly pelted at the conference room windows when organisers had tried to hold the seminar on Tuesday, without Khalid. Khalid is a student at Jawaharlal Nehru University and was one of three arrested in connection with a controversial Afzal Guru event at the university in February 2016.
Amnesty International India has condemned the “growing threat to freedom of expression in Indian universities”. “The events at Ramjas College are a shameful reminder of how intimidation and threats continue to restrict free speech on university campuses,” Executive Director at Amnesty International India, Aakar Patel said. He urged the Delhi police to ensure that students at universities can express their opinions without fear of repression from anyone.