After a year the sequel of JNU Row was launched at Ramjas College. The prestigious college, which successfully completed 100 years of its establishment, is a constituent of Delhi University. The fuzz started over an invitation that took a monstrous incarnation, injuring more than 20 students, 8 policemen and many journalists.
As a part of convention Ramjas College was conducting a conference titled ‘Culture of Protests’ on 21st and 22nd of Feb 2017. For which, JNU row ill-fame, Umar Khalid was also invited by Literary Society of Ramjas College along with many adepts. In its response, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) demanded to withdraw the invite.
The college authorities in accordance with ABVP’s demand and more as an aftermath of violent demonstration cancelled the seminar. The ABVP folks’ bid for phasing out Umar Khalid and another JNU student Shehal Rashid was allegedly ferocious and enraging. On Tuesday they jeered and pelted stones at students gathered for the seminar at a conference hall and the war zone was ploughed.
Next day, on the grounds of, the assassination of freedom of speech a peaceful planned protest march was held against the ABVP but before the peaceful march could loosen its throttle to take off, it was confronted with ABVP members. A jolting and gigantic clash broke out despite heavy police deployment.
From a peaceful protest to distress
Apparently, ABVP looks more like a legal body rather than students’ ‘sanghatan’. The RSS affiliated organisation stormed to take law and order in their hands. Even when the third session began without Umar Khalid, the crowd surrounded the whole area and pelted stones through the glass windows. Students and teachers were holed up inside the college for hours before police escorted them out in the evening. Their launch pad exclaims that the ravage was against the ‘anti-national’ ideology and activities, wandering inside the campus of Ramjas. ABVP has recorded a scene which clearly imparts the vocals asserting- “Bastar mange Aazadi, Kashmir mange aazadi”. Upon this, Mukul Mangalik, an associate professor (history department of Ramjas College) said- “I need to put things in context. Even if such slogans were raised by some students, which I am not aware of, it would have been done to mean an end to the exploitation of tribals and minorities in these regions. This nowhere means that these two regions should not be a part of India.”
Professor Magalik also shared the peaceful ideology that Ramjas carries and denies the allegations hovering over him other fellow students for raising anti-national slogans. He admitted that during protest slogans like- “Hume chahiye aazadi, gundagardi (hooliganism) se aazadi, dehshatgardi (terror) se aazadi” were raised but nothing against the nation.
On the campus in the name of nationalism, the ABVP mob were said to be groping students (men and women alike) and saying “Azadi chahiye tujhe? Main batata hun” (You want freedom? I will tell you) and would only allow the students to exit if they said “Vande Mataram”.
This kind of violence used by mob gives a vision that their understanding of patriotism was ‘forceful’ eliminating a space for a healthy debate and discussion.
Why was controversial Umar Khalid even invited?
Umar Khalid’s was invited to speak on “The War in Adivasi Areas”, which doesn’t reflect an ounce of anti-nationalism in the subject. Umar did his M.A. in history and M.Phil from JNU and doing research upon disturbance in conflict-affected Zone of ‘Bastar’. The sedition charges lingering upon Khalid is something that not only agitated ABVP but also was opposed by many students of Ramjas. However, he is under trial (no charge-sheet has been released against him) and is out on bail.
Ramjas College witnessed a furious battle between students of the Left-affiliated All India Students Association (AISA) and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), linked to the right-wing RSS.
Also, Hundreds of outraged students protested outside the Delhi Police headquarters as they want police to launch a number of separate FIRs against ABVP rioters and even against passive cops.
On Friday, Delhi Police suspended three of its personnel for their “unprofessional” handling of the Ramjas College violence and asked Crime Branch to conduct a probe into the clashes between ABVP and AISA members.
India is now witnessing series of such burning incidents in many educational institutions. Being these institutions an important unit of our society which nurtures the future of India, such activities are heading towards destructing the university’s space for free thinking. The need of the hour is to define what exactly counts as anti-national? Instead of Article 19 which comes with restriction in Article 19(2), the lines under this still blur giving space to entice or elude from the system.