Violent clashes broke out on Wednesday between two student groups All India Students’ Association (AISA) and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) at Delhi University’s Ramjas College for inviting JNU students Shehla Rashid and Umar Khalid for a seminar.
At least a dozen students and a teacher were wounded after a group demonstrated against ABVP — the RSS student wing that dominates the students union in Delhi University.
Some of them tried to march to the nearby Maurice Nagar Police Station but were stopped by a group of ABVP students. Police blocked the road from Patel Chest to the police station with barricades amid slogan shouting by the two warring groups.
The ABVP side chanted “Bharat Mata ki jai” and “Desh ke gaddaron ko, jootey maaro…” The other side countered with “ABVP ki gundagardi nahi chalegi, nahi chalegi”.
Some students were locked inside the college as All India Students Association (AISA) activists alleged ABVP members surrounded them and didn’t allow the march.
“We were attacked, police did nothing. Our students were bleeding. They hurled bricks at us,” tweeted Shehla Rashid, who was also invited for the two-day seminar and was at Ramjas during the clashes.
She alleged that the ABVP activists, with the help of police, “unleashed brutal violence on our peaceful march”.
The ABVP, however, denied resorting to violence or forcing the college to cancel the invite to Khalid and Rashid.
“There was no violence. The ABVP always promotes discussion. But you need to maintain decorum…The college students and teachers didn’t want Khalid,” ABVP leader Abhishek Verma said.
Those wounded in the clashes included English Department teacher Prasanta Chakravarty, who was admitted to Hindu Rao hospital with minor injuries. Also admitted were three students.
8 policemen also suffered injuries in ABVP-AISA students clash, said Delhi police.
A.K. Goyal, medical superintendent at the hospital, said they had suffered some bruises but there was “nothing serious”.
Students threatened to camp outside the police station as police refused to file an FIR against ABVP for alleged violence on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police Esha Pandey told IANS that “adequate deployment” of police was made outside the college to stop the situation getting out of control after clashes “between two student outfits over their ideologies”.
Earlier on Tuesday, Ramjas College had cancelled the two-day long event following protests by ABVP. The move did not go down well with AISA who began protesting against the college administration for giving in to ABVP’s demands, resulting in the clashes.
“I was on my way to Ramjas College when I was told the event was disrupted by the ABVP. Organisers told me to come from a different route but I still could not make it,” Umar Khalid told IANS on Wednesday.
The duo had been invited to speak during the two-day seminar on the ‘culture of protests’, organised by English Department of College.
Umar Khalid was arrested last year on charges of sedition after an event at JNU where anti-national slogan were allegedly shouted. Rashid was then vice-president of the JNU union and had demanded release of Khalid and fellow students.
Amnesty International’s India chapter head Aakar Patel said: “Universities are supposed to be safe spaces for debate and discussion. But the events at Ramjas College are a shameful reminder of how intimidation and threats continue to restrict free speech on university campuses.”