Violence broke out at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on Sunday evening as masked men armed with sticks attacked students and teachers and damaged property on the campus, prompting the administration to call in police which conducted a flag march.
At least 18 people, including JNU Students' Union president Aishe Ghosh, were injured and admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) as chaos reigned on the campus for several hours.
#JNUViolence | On Sunday, JNUSU president #AisheGhosh was brutally attacked on campus after a clash broke out between members of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Students' Union and the ABVP. | Follow LIVE updates:https://t.co/8lG90IMgOJ pic.twitter.com/vf9Wuoj3fF
— Firstpost (@firstpost) January 5, 2020
Eyewitness accounts said that there was a "complete breakdown of normalcy at JNU". The reports confirmed that students were pelted with stones and beaten with rods and lathis.
Sources told PTI the violence started around 5 pm.
The JNU administration said "masked miscreants armed with sticks were roaming around, damaging property and attacking people" and that police had been called in to maintain law and order.
The students alleged that the attackers entered hostels and assaulted students and teachers. Video footage aired by some TV channels showed a group of men, who were brandishing hockey sticks, moving around a building.
Delhi Police said it conducted a flag march and the situation was brought under control after it got a written request from the JNU administration.
In a statement issued late at night, the JNU administration said, "A police complaint is being filed to bring culprits to book. Violators of university rules who are trying to disrupt peaceful academic atmosphere of campus will not be spared."
The statement pointed to other recent incidents of violence and said, "It is unfortunate that a group of students with their violent means are preventing thousands of non-agitating students from pursuing their academic activities. The JNU administration stands by every student who wants to continue their specific academic programmes peacefully in the campus."
The JNU administration feels great pain and anguish for the students who have sustained injuries in the violence that took place in JNU campus. The JNU administration strongly condemns any form of violence in the campus. pic.twitter.com/Quk3Zc7wN0
— Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar (@mamidala90) January 5, 2020
The Left-controlled JNUSU and the ABVP blamed each other for the violence. The students' union alleged that its members, including Ghosh, were injured in stone pelting by ABVP members.
But the RSS-backed students' organisation alleged that its members were brutally attacked by Left-affiliated student outfits and 25 of them were injured, while 11 were missing. Among the injured was the secretary of its JNU unit.
The violence occurred while a public meeting by the JNU Teachers' Association was being held.
"We had organised a peace meet at the tea point at 5 pm. As soon as it got over, we saw that a large number of people entered the campus and they started arbitrarily attacking teachers and students," R Mahalaxmi, a professor of History department, said.
"How did such a large number of people with rods in their hands enter the campus, that is what we are wondering about. I think they were political activists instigated by the people who always call us anti-nationals," Pradeep Shinde, another professor, said.
A student, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Firstpost, "Since morning, students have been boycotting the registration process. The ABVP, colluding with the administration, entered hostels, including girls hostels, and destroyed property, They were carrying bottles of acid, stones, axes and daggers. A mob of around 100 to 200 people attacked each and every hostel, beat students mercilessly and even attacked teachers and vandalised cars."
The JNU administration had issued a statement on the matter, which it later retracted. The statement had read, "Masked miscreants, armed with sticks are roaming around, damaging property and attacking people. The JNU administration has called the police to maintain order."
Expressing shock over the incident, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said, "The fascists in control of our nation, are afraid of the voices of our brave students. Today's violence in JNU is a reflection of that fear."
Swaraj Abhiyan chief Yogendra Yadav, who was allegedly manhandled outside the university, claimed no one was there to stop the "hooliganism" and he was not allowed to speak to the media.
Delhi Chief Minister and AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, "I am so shocked to know about the violence at JNU. Students attacked brutally. Police should immediately stop violence and restore peace. How will the country progress if our students will not be safe inside univ campus?"
Kejriwal said he also spoke to the L-G over the issue.
Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal condemned Sunday's violence and said the situation was being "closely monitored". "The violence in JNU against students and teachers is highly condemnable. Directed @DelhiPolice to take all possible steps in coordination with JNU Administration to maintain law and order & take action against the perpetrators of violence. The situation is being closely monitored," he tweeted.
The Congress alleged that the attack on JNU students was a "state-sponsored mayhem". Party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra visited the injured at the AIIMS.
Later, BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi also arrived at AIIMS. The party put out a statement saying —
We strongly condemn the violence on JNU campus. This is a desperate attempt by forces of anarchy, who are determined to use students as cannon fodder, create unrest to shore up their shrinking political footprint. Universities should remain places of learning and education.
— BJP (@BJP4India) January 5, 2020
Two prominent JNU alumni who are part of the government — S Jaishankar and Nirmala Sitharaman — also condemned the violence. Jaishankar said, "Have seen pictures of what is happening in #JNU. Condemn the violence unequivocally. This is completely against the tradition and culture of the university."
Sitharaman said, "Horrifying images from JNU — the place I know and remember was one for fierce debates & opinions but never violence. I unequivocally condemn the events of today. This government, regardless of what has been said the past few weeks, wants universities to be safe spaces for all students."
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Jan 06, 2020 16:50:05 IST