Two groups were involved in violent clashes on Monday at Telangana’s Satavahana University after some students tried to burn copies of the Manusmriti, calling it casteist, The News Minute reported.
At least eight people – members of the Bharatiya Janata Party and its students’ wing – allegedly used sticks and stones to attack a group of Dalit students who were burning the books. While the Dalit groups claimed to be observing the Manusmriti Dahan Diwas (“Manusmriti Burning Day”), the BJP workers claimed they acted against anti-India slogans.
Police baton-charged the students to bring the situation under control, The New Indian Express reported.
The Dalit students claimed that the attackers were outsiders, but the police said they were also students. Police detained around 22 people from both groups and seized their phones. They are examining videos of the incident and an investigation is underway.
“As usual, we planned to burn the casteist book,” Jupakka Srinivas of Progressive Democratic Students’ Union told The News Minute. “The incident took place around 10.30 am. We don’t know who these people were. They barged into the campus when we were about to burn the papers of Manusmriti...There was no dialogue.”
He said this was the first time such an incident happened on the campus, and that the BJP’s student wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidya Parishad, had never objected to the burning of Manusmriti earlier. Those burning the book were members of the Progressive Democratic Students’ Union, Dalit Students Union, Telangana Vidyarthi Vedika and Bahujan Students Union.
Bandi Sanjay, a local Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson, claimed that the party’s workers intervened because the other group was shouting slogans against India, Hinduism and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. He also claimed that the incident took place outside the campus.
He said the Dalit groups first attacked the BJP workers, but the police shot only those videos that show saffron party workers indulging in violence.
Sanjeev Kumar, the Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police, Karimnagar, said the attackers were students who were observing Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birthday. When they saw the Dalit students trying to burn copies of Manusmriti, they got into arguments and it escalated into attacks with stones, he said.