Violence broke out in the Patiala House court complex when groups of lawyers on Monday thrashed journalists, students and teachers of JNU while the political slugfest over the arrest of the university's student leader snowballed with BJP chief Amit Shah targeting Rahul and Sonia Gandhi on the issue.
Groups of lawyers attacked journalists, students and teachers of JNU and unidentified people in and outside the court dubbing them as anti-nationals. Delhi BJP MLA O P Sharma, who happened to be in the complex, also joined a group of lawyers in beating up a person, identified as CPI activist Ameeque Jamai, who was taken to Tuglaq Road police station.
The day also saw bitter words being exchanged and accusations made across the political sphere. Here is what was said as the row escalated in the capital.
Rahul Gandhi (Congress)
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi attacked BJP and RSS, saying they wanted to control everyone’s views and follow the agenda of creating divide and hatred among people.
“BJP and RSS are following the agenda of creating divide and hatred, as can be seen from the recent developments in JNU, by imposing their views forcibly on people,” Gandhi said at a party meeting here in Assam’s Sonitpur district.
He alleged, “BJP and RSS have no respect for the diversity of the nation’s culture and sentiments of the people. They just want that everybody follow their views. They find terrorism everywhere, even in universities and brand anybody who do not agree with their views as terrorists.”
Amit Shah (BJP)
In a scathing attack on Rahul Gandhi over the JNU row, BJP chief Amit Shah said he had “proved” that national interest had no place in his mind and asked if the Congress vice president had joined hands with separatist forces and wanted another division of India.
Speaking on the raging controversy for the first time, Shah asked Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul a host of questions and demanded that he apologise for his stand on the JNU issue, saying support to anti-national forces in the name of the Left’s progressive ideology is not acceptable.
Taking an aggressive stand on the turmoil at JNU, Shiv Sena on Monday said all politicians who support the students’ agitation should be stripped off their ‘elected status’ and those raising slogans against India put behind bars.
Citing the example of cricketer Virat Kohli’s Pakistani fan being declared an “anti-national” by the neighboring country for waving an Indian flag, the Sena said all those sloganeering against India should be declared “anti-nationals”.
“All those who are sloganeering against India should be immediately put behind bars. The JNU campus has now become a hub of not only anti-nationals, but of Pakistani and Chinese agents, who are indulging in anti-national activities on government’s money,” an editorial in party mouthpiece Saamana said.
Shashi Tharoor (Congress)
Concerned over JNU row, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said government should not interfere much in the functioning of universities and that such educational institutions should be treated as autonomous.
“My personal view is that we shouldn’t have too much government interference in universities. Even as minister, I felt our education system is over-regulated and under- governed,” Tharoor told PTI on the sidelines of ‘Make in India Week’.
“We should leave universities as autonomous places,” he said, adding that as a minister he would not have written to the Vice Chancellor about matters related to disciplining or punishments.
Randeep Surjewala (Congress)
Hitting back at BJP chief Amit Shah for attacking Rahul Gandhi over the JNU row, Congress chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala said those once “externed by the Supreme Court over criminal charges” should not teach patriotism to the Congress, which has played a “stellar role” in freedom movement.
Surjewala told reporters it is ironical that those who are “inheritors of the thought process of Nathuram Godse” are giving new definition of patriotism and love for the nation.
He said it was “distressing and condemnable” that “those who helped British and sided with them” in the freedom movement and whose parent organisation RSS did not hoist the National flag at its headquarters in Nagpur were teaching nationalism to Congress.
Sitaram Yechury (CPI(M))
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury launched a stinging attack on right-wing outfits for allegedly labeling Left parties as “anti-national” forces, saying there can’t be a “bigger” farce than “Godse-worshippers” putting out certificates on nationalism.
“There can be no bigger farce than Godse-worshippers putting out certificates on nationalism,” Yechury tweeted.
Nitish Kumar (JDU)
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar attacked the Centre on the arrest of JNU Students’ Union president on sedition charge saying it was “too much of a design” to impose the ideology of ABVP, the student wing of the RSS, on the nation.
He claimed it was “like imposing Emergency” in the country.
“It’s too much of a design to impose ideology of ABVP, which is the student wing of RSS in educational institutions,” Kumar told reporters after ‘Janata Ke Darbar Mein Mukhya Mantri’ program me.
BSP President Mayawati alleged the NDA government had branded JNU as “anti-national” to implement the “extreme and offensive agenda” of the RSS and termed as “political conspiracy” the arrest of JNU Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar on sedition charges.
She also said the role of central minister or central government after the suicide of dalit student Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad to the JNU incident has been very negative, which was indicative of “a very dangerous trend”.
“In one stroke, the BJP-led government has branded the prestigious institution like JNU as anti-national in order to implement the extreme and offensive agenda of the RSS,” Mayawati said in a statement.
Kumari Selja (Congress)
Congress MP Kumari Selja said her party would raise the issue of the ongoing unrest on the JNU campus in Parliament and demanded that a high-level probe be conducted into the matter.
Talking to reporters, she said the allegation by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh that the JNU event had the backing of Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed as “very serious”.
“The Union Minister should have shared the evidence with the people of the country to back his serious allegation. Congress would raise the issue in the Budget Session,” she said.
Prashant Bhushan (Swaraj Abhiyan)
"JNU is a place where debates can place on any topics. And this is a sign of democracy. Every topic is discussed here peacefully and honestly. Today, there is an attack on it," Bhushan said addressing agitating students and teachers in front of the admin block of the campus.
"It's not just an attack on the university but on its thoughts, on its traditions, on this mentality which says that in any democracy people have a right to think, discuss and debate on every topic," he said.
"The Supreme Court decided that Afzal Guru was guilty. But everyone has the right to discuss if the decision (on Guru) was right or wrong."
"The assault on JNU has made it clear that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and the entire top brass of the BJP is involved," he said.
With inputs from PTI and IANS