As languages of student politics take violent forms, University campuses across the country turn into political battlegrounds with the emergence of two major blocs - the left and the centrist in one bloc and the right in another. The latest being Ramjas College of Delhi University (DU).
With the tension over last week's violent clashes, the right of the bloc, Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)-supported Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), took out a Tiranga March (Tricolour Rally) against the 'anti-national' elements in University campuses on February 27, 2017. In reaction to this, the other bloc, comprising of the Left-wing All India Students Association and Congress-backed National Students Union of India (NSUI) launched counter-rallies on February 28, 2017.
The current developments are in context to that last week's political outbursts in Ramjas over a panel discussion that was scheduled to take place at the College on February 22, 2017, and had Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Umar Khalid among the panelists.
The controversy surrounding Umar Khalid dates back to the February 9, 2016, incident in JNU, where a group of students, including Khalid, were alleged to have raised some anti-India slogans. There were videos of the event that were circulated in the media, which were, however, doctored. Khalid and the JNUSU leader Kanhaiyya Kumar were arrested, but were later released on bail.
Since this unfortunate event in JNU, Khalid has been branded as anti-national and has been accused of sedition. It is in this context that the recent violence in Ramjas took place.
A group of students, who were protesting against the cancellation of the programme and were led by AISA were brutally beaten up by the opposing group. Since then, the campus has been embroiled in protests. According to latest reports, there have calls of threats and intimidation.
Incidentally, on February 26, 2017, a student of Delhi University, Gurmehar Kaur, was threatened with rape.
Since last week, the situation on campus has deteriorated. Among the injured was a professor of English department, Prashant Chakraborty who was first strangulated and then pushed to the ground.
Recent reports, dated February 27, 2017, state that Professor Chakraborty has sustained internal injuries, which includes damage to his kidneys.
Violence is over, but fear looms large on the once vibrant DU Campus.
1) A female student from the English Department of Ramjas College, representing the Left bloc, while talking to WittyFeed on this political scuffle between the two groups said, "I feel scared here now. The attackers had filmed the video of the protesting girls and now they are stalking us. They have come till our hostel and are roaming outside the gate. I am scared to move out. I am thinking of shifting to a friends place in south campus till things become normal again."
2) Another student from the History Department of the same College lamented, "I feel sad to see the current environment in my college. But we have to understand that this is the larger problem of the right political parties that don't allow alternative perspectives to be voiced. The campus was dead like a graveyard. This is the same area that we like to loiter around in the evenings. Section 144 was imposed after the violence, and we were imprisoned in our own homes."
3) An ABVP activist exclaimed that a culture of anti-national rhetoric has percolated in the academia with the history of left dominated campuses. He voiced his frustrations, saying, the Left thas never given space to us. We have been kept out of the academia. This was systemic and now it is our time to turn the tables. We will not let any anti-national activity, be it a seminar or course structure, take any space in our Universty.
4) Another ABVP student, on condition of anonymity, said that the left parties have ganged up with the Congress-supported NSUI to oppose everything we say. This is the larger tactic by Congress. They are aligning with the anti-national forces only to give a strong opposition to the BJP at the Centre.
With the political climate becoming tense in DU and in campuses across, what needs to be seen is the unfolding of the present crisis. Will action be taken against perpetrators of violence on both sides? Will there be a fair enquiry or will politics dominate the course of action?
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