Leaders of Opposition parties lashed out at the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government for the violence at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University on Sunday evening. They questioned the alleged inaction of the police during the incident, which left several students and faculty members injured.
The JNU students’ union has blamed the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad for the violence and claimed that members of the group had entered the university campus with rods and sticks. Video footage shows people wearing masks and armed with rods entering hostel buildings.
“This kind of violence is a direct result of the BJP government’s divisive politics and its failure in protecting students [and] our democracy from persistent attacks,” the Congress said. “The BJP must explain and reveal to the country the identities of all those being used to create violence in our campuses.”
Congress President Sonia Gandhi described the violence as a “bone-chilling attack” on students and teachers and “a grim reminder of the extent the government will go to stifle and subjugate every voice of dissent”. “The voice of India’s youth and students is being muzzled everyday,” she said, according to Hindustan Times. “The horrifying and unprecedented violence unleashed on India’s young by goons with active abetment of the ruling Modi government is deplorable and unacceptable.”
Former party president Rahul Gandhi said the “brutal attack” on students and teachers by “masked thugs” was shocking. “The fascists in control of our nation, are afraid of the voices of our brave students,” he said on Twitter soon after the violence broke out. “Today’s violence in JNU is a reflection of that fear.”
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Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra visited All India Institute of Medical Sciences to meet the injured students and teachers. She said the students had told her that “goons entered the campus and attacked them with sticks and other weapons”. “One student said the police kicked him several times on his head,” she claimed. “There is something deeply sickening about a government that allows and encourages such violence to be inflicted on their own children.”
All the 34 students and teachers who were admitted to AIIMS trauma centre were discharged by Monday morning.
Party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala blamed the “enmity” of the Narendra Modi government with JNU, and suggested this was “state-sponsored mayhem being unleashed”. He claimed that the attack was planned, had the support of the university administration, and that the “goons” belonged to the BJP. “Can this happen without tacit support of HM [Home Minister Amit Shah]?” he asked.
“Violence in JNU reminds us of Nazi rule [in Germany] 90 years ago,” he told reporters.
The Trinamool Congress decided to send a delegation to Delhi to show solidarity. Party chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee strongly condemned the “brutality” and called it a “shame on our democracy”. The chief minister highlighted that Delhi Police was not under Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal but under the Centre. “On one side, they sent BJP goons [into the campus] and on the other side, they made the police inactive,” she said, according to Times Now. “This is a fascist surgical strike.”
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the attacks were “an appalling display of intolerance running amok”. “The scale of the attack reveals the extent of planning,” he said. “Sangh Parivar must end this diabolical plan to silence universities with bloodshed.”
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said there was a need to instil confidence among students of the country as an “atmosphere of fear” prevailed. “I was reminded of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack,” Thackeray said, according to ANI. “Investigation is needed to find out who were these masked attackers.”
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati said the violence was shameful, and urged the Centre to take it very seriously. She also demanded a judiciary inquiry.
Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar also condemned the violence in JNU. “JNU students and professors were subjected to a cowardly but planned attack,” he tweeted. “Use of violent means to suppress democratic values and thought will never succeed.”
Congress leader KC Venugopal alleged that “miscreants supported by the regime at the Centre is turning our prestigious universities into battlefields”. Another leader, P Chidambaram, said that the violence was an act of impunity as it was happening on live TV, and so, “can only happen with the support of the government”.
Later, Chidambaram said the country was progressing towards anarchy, and questioned where the Delhi police commissioner was at the time of the attack. “Why didn’t he rush to JNU when students were being attacked and shown on TV?” he asked.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor also drew comparisons with Germany of the 1930s, and said the government was “destroying Indian democracy as well as what remains of our nation’s image in the democratic world”.
BJP condemns violence, blames Left
The Bharatiya Janata Party and its ministers condemned the violence and blamed the “forces of anarchy” for it. The party said it was a desperate attempt by these forces, “who are determined to use students as cannon fodder, create unrest to shore up their shrinking political footprint”.
Union minister Prakash Javadekar said the violence needs to be investigated. “Congress, Communists, AAP and some elements want to create environment of violence in universities across the country,” he told ANI.
Another Union minister, Smriti Irani, said an investigation was going on, but added: “Universities should not be turned into hubs of politics, neither should students be used as political pawns.”
Cabinet member Giriraj Singh accused “Left students” of defaming Jawaharlal Nehru University and turning it into a “centre of hooliganism”.
On Sunday evening, Union ministers S Jaishankar and Nirmala Sitharaman – both former students of Jawaharlal Nehru University – were the first to condemn the violence on campus.