Students and faculty members of premier colleges such as the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, and the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, condemned the mob attack on students and teachers at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi on Sunday.
“We see this as part of systematic attacks on all institutions in the country, including academic ones,” 163 faculty members of IIT Bombay said in a statement. “We have watched with dismay the failure of universities and other academic institutes to protect their members; the cases are too many to be all listed here, but along with JNU we name Aligarh Muslim University and Benaras Hindu University, and even Jamia Millia Islamia where the administration has vocalized its attempt to defend the students.”
“We reassert the right of freedom of expression the Constitution of India grants us, and thus the right of intellectual engagement that follows from it including the right to debate, dissent, and protest democratically and peacefully within academic campuses as well as outside,” they added. “We emphasize the intellectual autonomy of academic institutions to function without fear.”
Students, alumni and faculty of the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, protested in solidarity with JNU students on Monday.
“They emphasized that freedom to express dissent is the basic feature of an academic environment and academic institutions cannot function under continuous threat of violence,” a statement said. They demanded action against the perpetrators of violence and observed a candlelight vigil. As a mark of protest, the students and faculty members have decided to wear black ribbons to work on Tuesday.
A mob, allegedly comprising members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s youth wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, armed with sticks and hammers, attacked students at hostels in JNU on Sunday evening, leading to injures to at least 34 people, including faculty members.
Later, a group of right-wing activists sloganeering outside the university’s main gate heckled, abused and threatened several journalists who were reporting on the violence. Several eye-witness accounts and videos indicated that in most places, police personnel present at JNU did almost nothing to stop the violence and, in fact, allowed armed and masked goons to exit the university without apprehending them.
Several students alleged that the violence had been perpetrated by members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which is the ideological parent of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Members of ABVP, however, blamed the violence on “Naxals” and leftist students. However, Scroll.in traced back WhatsApp messages planning the attack on JNU students – as well as celebrating it – to ABVP activists.
Anger over the mob attack on students and teachers spread to several college campuses in India on Monday, as well as to some universities abroad.