Question from Ramjas to JNU: Is ABVP a students’ organisation or a bunch of hooligans?
Just a year after ABVP activists disrupted and shut down the Jawaharlal Nehru University by alleging that some of its students have indulged in anti-national sloganeering, its members are at it again. On Wednesday, ABVP members clashed with students in the Delhi University campus over a protest march the latter were holding against the organisation for disrupting an event at the Ramjas University. On Tuesday, ABVP members disrupted an event for which JNU student Umar Khalid was invited, prompting the college to take back an invitation to another JNU student, Shehla Rashid. The college was forced to call off the seminar after heated protests against Rashid and Khalid, who was accused of shouting anti-India slogans last year. Mr Khalid was invited by the college’s Literary Society to speak in the afternoon on a subject related to his PhD, which he is doing from JNU. His topic at the seminar was The War in Adivasi Areas. Mr Khalid, a former member of the ultra-radical Democratic Students Union (DSU), was arrested last year on charges of sedition for his role in organising a rally at JNU to commemorate the anniversary of the execution of 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.
The clash broke out when the ABVP tried to intercept the protest march of DU teachers and students and threw bottles at the students. They also snatched Shehla Rashid’s phone. Ms Rashid was to speak at the Ramjas event on Wednesday but the invitation to her was cancelled after Tuesday’s protest, and the event was called off.
As in the JNU case, in this case too, the ABVP activists said that they cannot “allow anti-nationals” to speak on the campus. The students have protested saying, correctly so, that this intervention goes against the basic tenets of freedom of speech. Things could not have gone out of hand at DU if the police had been cautious enough to keep them at bay. But it seems that the police inaction only emboldened the ABVP. In the last one year, ABVP has created ruckus in at least three major campuses: JNU, Hyderabad Central University and now in DU. Such actions raise an important question: Is ABVP a students’ organisation or a bunch of thugs?