Three days ago, Ramjas College’s event in Delhi took an unexpected violent turn when the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarti Parishad (ABVP) took it upon themselves to show their displeasure towards the selection of speakers at the event by lashing out physically. Sure, India may be labelled as warm, welcoming, and diverse on the tourist packages, with the ‘secular’ tag is worn with much pride, but the on-ground reality is debatable.
Ramjas College had invited Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid to speak at a college seminar, for a literary event. Umar Khalid has previously been in the news, largely during the JNU protests, for sedition, after organizing a rally at which ‘anti-national slogans’ were allegedly heard. Videos were released to back these claims, but were later proven to be doctored. Members from the ABVP convened outside Ramjas to show their displeasure and outrage at the decision to provide such ‘seditious’ individuals a platform to ‘spread their hatred for India,’ with Khalid having spoken out about the Modi Government, which only further provoked their intense dislike for him. Over the years it seems the ABVP has no real fear of consequences, due to their allegiance to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS.)
Their physically violent interruptions proved successful, as the event was forced to come to a close. Rina Ramdev, a Professor of English Literature at Delhi University, having experienced the situation firsthand posted about the inept management of the situation by the Delhi Police, as the ABVP ‘goondas’ unleashed their savage behaviour upon the crowd. From standing atop police vehicles, shouting obscenities at women protesters, to strangling a professor with his own muffler, the ABVP even used bottles and bricks to inflict injuries upon protesting students. The Delhi Police’s reaction to the situation was to refuse FIRs filed by students at the Maurice Nagar Police Station, and then proceed to chase away these students through a lathi charge.
Now, students from all over the nation are taking notice of the injustice, and stepping in to do their own bit. Started by Gurmehar Kaur, a student of Lady Shriram College, the #StudentsAgainstABVP movement is largely based on social media. The internet seems to be the only safe space to go forth with any form of protest, when you consider how the ABVP got away with their crimes, while the police were present. Kaur took her cue from Ram Subramaniam’s #ProfileForPeace campaign, and asked students to unite and help bring about justice, especially when it comes to the ABVP.
The AVBP on the other hand, seem unapologetic about their actions, as their national media convener, Saket Bahuguna told The Indian Express, that tempers were flying high because of the support for anti-national people and activities. He continued, “We are touchy about issues that threaten the nation and some people get carried away. This is what has been happening at JNU for several years. We will not let the same happen at DU.”
We call ourselves secular, but in actuality, this tends to differ greatly, as evidenced by protests (more recently, think Jalikattu, and those against the Bangalore Mass Molestation) occurring habitually. As far as protests go, #StudentsAgainstABVP remains peaceful, even though it began as a response to ABVP’s violent behaviour at Ramjas College. The Government, whose current agenda seems to be turning a blind eye to the Freedom of Expression part of our Constitution, remaining ominously silent through the entire series of events, only reacting indirectly, through the Delhi Police.
If you’d like to join the protest, visit Gurmehar Kaur’s page here, for more information.
Feature image via Hindustan Times
Words: Cara Shrivastava