Hours after the Left Unity – the coalition of Left-leaning students’ groups – won against the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad in the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union elections on Sunday, clashes broke out between the groups at night. Both groups have accused each other of initiating violence.
Newly-elected students union President N Sai Balaji, accompanied by teachers, filed two complaints at the Vasant Kunj police station on Monday morning. The office bearers had mobilised crowds to march to the police station. Students from both sides had gathered at the police station as well.
Professor of Economics Jayati Ghosh, one of the teachers who had gone to the station on Monday, said there were several ABVP leaders and teachers, who were affiliated to the ABVP in the past, at the station. “They were incredibly aggressive and threatened us, saying they will kill whoever tried to protect them [the students],” Ghosh told Scroll.in. “They had even managed to mobilise some others because there were men and women we did not recognise.”
A police official said complaints have been received at the Vasant Kunj North police station, according to The Indian Express. “Legal action is being taken on merit,” the official said. “The situation is under control now and police arrangements are in place.”
Balaji, in his first complaint, claimed he was informed that a student named Pawan Meena, who is also an AISA activist, was being attacked by some ABVP students with sticks outside Sutlej hostel around 2.30 am on Monday. “When I reached Sutlej hostel, what I witnessed was mayhem and complete terror,” he said. “A group of students led by Saurabh Sharma were chasing and physically assaulting all those students whom they thought were friends with Pawan Meena.” Sharma is a JNU student and an ABVP member.
He added that while he called the police, Sharma threatened him with violence and the group also attacked another student. When the police arrived, ABVP members continued to threaten him and even forced themselves inside the police van where he was taking refuge, he claimed.
In the second complaint, Balaji said Saurabh Sharma and other ABVP students from JNU abused and threatened him and the others who had gone to file a police complaint. “Meet me outside the police station and we will finish you,” he quoted them as saying.
In a statement, the Jawaharlal Nehru Teachers’ Association expressed concern about students being targeted by mobs on campus and accused the administration of being a mute spectator. “The JNU administration appears to be complicit in this process and failing in its duty to defend its own university and its democratic culture,” the teachers’ body said.
More security personnel should be deployed at all hostels and other locations to ensure everyone is protected from threats to their safety, the teachers’ association said. It said strict action should be taken against those guilty of violence and intimidation, and urged the Delhi Police to ensure security.
The ABVP, however, claimed their students were attacked. ABVP’s national Media Convenor Monika Chaudhary claimed three JNU students affiliated with them were attacked around 4.30 am by “criminals hiding as champions of Communist ideology”. “Around 15-20 Left workers, including non-students individuals, attacked in a targetted way,” she said in a statement. “They were led by the outgoing JNUSU president Geeta Kumari and her close friend Ankit Singh. They entered into the room of Sujal Yadav and hit him with sticks and punches. They Leftists had already fractured his hand yesterday. He has been attacked for the second time in 30 hours.”
Former JNUSU joint secretary Saurabh Sharma said around 200 “leftist goons” are still outside one of the hostels on campus and are threatening to kill ABVP workers. He added that the police were ignoring ABVP’s calls to the helpline number 100.