Economist and Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee on Monday urged the Narendra Modi government to establish “the truth of what happened” at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University on Sunday evening, when a mob of masked attackers assaulted several students and faculty members, News18 reported.

“I think any Indian who cares about the nation’s image in the world should worry,” Banerjee, a JNU alumnus, told the news website. “This has too many echoes of the years when Germany was moving towards Nazi rule.” Banerjee has criticised the Indian government’s economic policies in the past and prescribed ways to bring the economy back on track.

“The government needs to actually establish the truth of what happened and not let it get drowned in the chorus of counter accusations,” said the Nobel laureate, responding to a statement from the university registrar blaming students protesting against the hostel fee hike proposal for the violence.

Banerjee said he was concerned about those who were injured. “I wish everyone injured a speedy recovery,” he added.

Academic Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd also condemned the attack on the university’s teachers and students. “For the first time in higher education history after independence masked forces with lethal weapons entered the campus and brutally beat teachers and students,” he pointed out. “This signals a new level of disturbing trend of organised violence with a support of University and higher administration.”

Shepherd accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of “encouraging its student wing” to attack students and teachers opposed to its ideology. The JNU Students’ Union has blamed the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad – an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh – for the violence, and claimed that members of the outfit entered the university campus with rods and sticks. also traced WhatsApp messages planning the attack to ABVP activists. However, the BJP alleged that “Congress, Communists, AAP and some elements want to create environment of violence in universities across the country”.

Shepherd said the saffron party and the RSS never realised that the ABVP should engage in serious reading and writing by building rational knowledge from universities. “They can build their own ruling class thought with serious study and writing,” added the academic. “ABVP was/is not known to the academic rigour even in their own ideology. They always deploy muscle power on the campuses but not brain power.”

Also read:

  1. JNU: How a visually impaired Sanskrit scholar was attacked by a mob
  2. JNU: WhatsApp messages planning attack traced to ABVP activists
  3. At #OccupyGateway, Mumbai citizens have been protesting in solidarity with JNU for over 16 hours
  4. JNU mob attack reminded me of 26/11 Mumbai terror strike, says Uddhav Thackeray

‘Is this a civil war?’

Meanwhile, the Indian Medical Association condemned the attack on healthcare workers who tried to provide first aid to injured JNU students on Sunday evening. The mob broke the windows of an ambulance, according to Dr Harji Singh Bhatti, the national president of the Progressive Medicos and Scientists Forum.

“IMA condemns mindless violence on doctors and nurses who rushed to treat the injured in JNU,” said the association. “If doctors and nurses are not safe in the capital of the country, it speaks volumes about the governance and lack of it.”

It said the time had come for the medical fraternity to devise its own defence arrangements. “How does that reflect on the nation, if it cannot protect its doctors and nurses reaching to the injured?” asked the association. “Is this a civil war? What is the message that goes out to the world?”