The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad on Wednesday claimed it had asked its office-bearers in the Delhi University Students’ Union to remove the busts of VD Savarkar, Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose from the campus till they get permission from the authorities, PTI reported. Leaders of the organisation in the students’ union had installed the busts in the early hours of Tuesday.

The busts were installed on a pillar outside the Arts Faculty in the Delhi University’s North Campus, weeks before the students’ union goes to polls on September 12. The union is currently led by the ABVP, the youth wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

ABVP leader and students’ union president Shakti Singh, whose name was mentioned on the pillar as the person who installed it, earlier told The Indian Express: “We have written to university officials several times asking for permission to set up such a monument – last November, this March, April and again in August – but we got no response. So we decided to go ahead and do it ourselves.”

After a controversy erupted, ABVP’s state media head Ashutosh Singh told PTI that the installation of the busts was an initiative of the DUSU, but should have been done with the required permission. The office-bearers were then told that the busts should be kept in the DUSU office until they get the permission to install them.

An unidentified ABVP member told PTI that the organisation had a “clear view” that the busts should be installed in the campus with the permission of the university administration.

Shakti Singh had on Tuesday claimed the busts were installed to erase the false narrative spread against Savarkar and Bhagat Singh, Hindustan Times reported. “We want that narrative to change and the youth should know about the contribution of these freedom fighters who fought for our independence,” Singh said.

He said the funds for the installation were raised by students of the university. DUSU members agreed that the move was necessary as “the three [leaders] may have used different paths but they had the same goal”.

Akshay Lakra, the president of the Delhi unit of the National Students Union of India, the Congress’ student wing, said: “You cannot put Savarkar on the same pedestal as Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose. If the statues are not removed within 24 hours, we will launch a strong protest.”

NSUI National Secretary Varun Choudhary on Wednesday claimed Savarkar was a “terrorist and a coward” who supported the British regime. “It’s despicable that his bust has been placed in Delhi University,” he wrote on Twitter. “The university administration should either remove the bust or face the wrath of the students. It’s a warning from a patriot.”

Left-backed All India Students Association had criticised the move as “an attempt by ABVP/RSS to paint him [Savarkar] as a prominent freedom fighter and to rewrite history”.

Last week, DUSU had also raised a demand to name the students’ union office after Savarkar.

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