The Jawaharlal Nehru University election committee suspended the counting process for the students’ union polls early on Saturday after some students allegedly entered the counting venue by force. Several attempts were made to speak to parties concerned to resolve the deadlock, the committee’s chairperson Himanshu Kulshrestha said in the afternoon.
Counting was set to resume in the evening from where it was stopped, one of the contestants told Scroll.in. An observer appointed by the Grievance Redressal Cell, who is a JNU professor, and approved by the university election committee will be present during the counting.
The JNU election committee also stood by its decision to not allow counting agents after the final call is given and ballot boxes opened.
The panel had earlier said there were attempts to steal ballot boxes from the centre where they were stored, and that the accused, including a presidential and a joint secretary candidate, had intimidated its members and resorted to violence.
The counting process began on Friday night and results were expected to be announced on Sunday. The election recorded 67.8% turnout compared to 58% last year.
The accused “forcibly entered the counting venue and attempted to snatch sealed ballot boxes as well as ballot papers from our counting centres”, the election committee alleged.
Members of the All India Students’ Association told Scroll.in that the accused were from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad. “They [ABVP students] broke the glass doors of the building and jammed the counting booths,” said the members of the leftist students’ organisation. “It is important to note that the incident occurred after the ABVP lost all councillor seats except for one.”
The All India Students’ Association, the Students’ Federation of India, the Democratic Students’ Federation and the All India Students’ Federation have formed a United Left alliance.
In a statement, all groups except the ABVP said the RSS-backed group had not sent its counting agents even after the election committee made the last call. “Long after sealed ballot boxes were opened and counting began, ABVP demanded that its agents be allowed in, and resorted to violence,” they said, accusing the group of manhandling guards, snatching people’s phones and assaulting journalists.
The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, meanwhile, claimed the Left alliance and the election committee’s members did not allow its representative to enter the counting centre. The group accused workers of the four leftist organisations of manhandling them.
The election committee said the counting process started after 14 counting agents for 10 candidates were at the venue. New counting agents were not allowed to enter the counting venue according to the norms, and so the process was suspended.
On Thursday, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad won the posts of president, vice president and the joint secretary at Delhi University after a controversial counting process. The National Students’ Union of India won the post of secretary of the students’ union. The counting of votes was briefly suspended due to faulty electronic voting machines.