ABVP protest at Ramjas turns violent

Demonstration against scheduled talk by Umar Khalid at the event

Updated - February 22, 2017 07:20 am IST

Published - February 22, 2017 01:59 am IST - New Delhi

‘Cultures of Protest’:  ABVP activists creating a ruckus outside the seminar organised at Ramjas College on Tuesday in protest against a talk scheduled to be delivered by JNU’s Umar Khalid (right).  Photo: Ananya Vajpayee

‘Cultures of Protest’: ABVP activists creating a ruckus outside the seminar organised at Ramjas College on Tuesday in protest against a talk scheduled to be delivered by JNU’s Umar Khalid (right). Photo: Ananya Vajpayee

Members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) on Tuesday allegedly threw stones to disrupt an event at Ramjas College.

The two-day event titled “Cultures of Protest”, which started on Tuesday, has been organised by the English Department and college literary society Wordcraft.

Umar cancels visit

They were protesting against a scheduled talk by JNU student Umar Khalid on “Unveiling the State: Regions in Conflict — The War in Adivasi Areas”. Mr. Khalid was arrested on sedition charges in 2016.

He cancelled his visit after the Delhi Police allegedly told the organisers that they would not protect him from any attack by the ABVP, and that the organisers would be held responsible for any violence.

“A mob of more than 100 ABVP pseudo-nationalists gathered at the gates of Ramjas College with hockey sticks and stones threatening large scale violence if an ‘anti-national’ like me comes to DU. What is the ABVP scared of? A discussion on the war against adivasis?” Mr. Khalid said, adding in a post on social media: “...Such is the state of democracy in our country where attackers are given complete protection and those facing attacks are held responsible for the attacks on them.”

Solidarity march

The event organisers and the ABVP clashed when Ramjas students decided to carry out a solidarity march on campus. The police on campus formed a shield between the groups to diffuse the situation, after which the students went back to the seminar room. However, ABVP members allegedly cut off the power supply, latched the door and threw bricks at the windows. “Protests by the Right-wing students’ group turned violent and the organisers were locked inside the seminar room. They started throwing stones at the windows. The police had to evacuate us from the back entrance,” said a student who was in the seminar room.

DUSU president Amit Tanwar said they were against Mr. Khalid’s participation as he was an “anti-national” and had called for the “destruction of India”. However, the ABVP and DUSU denied throwing of stones.

A third-year student said: “I don’t agree with Mr. Khalid on a number of issues, but this was an opportunity for me to question him. We all need to engage in a debate with each other regarding disagreements rather than fighting. But, the ABVP people simply didn’t let that happen.”

Shehla Rashid, who is to speak on Day Two, said she hadn’t received a word from the organisers if the event was still on. She asked why the ABVP enjoyed “impunity” from the police, which failed to offer protection for a peaceful seminar.

Police response

In a late-night response, the police denied that stone throwing had taken place in the college. A senior officer added that no prior intimation about the event or the list of speakers was given to them, which is why the question of providing or denying security didn’t arise.

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