Gurmehar steps back after threats, students denounce ABVP
Hundreds of students on Tuesday protested in Delhi University against the ABVP even as a female student who took on the RSS-affiliated body pulled back after getting death and rape threats.
Lt Governor Anil Baijal promised “strict action” against those who attacked students and teachers in the university while the police offered security to student Gurmehar Kaur who got the threats.
Kaur, 20, from Lady Shri Ram College, said she was withdrawing from the campaign she ignited against the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad on social media and urged everyone to leave her alone.
Kaur did not join the protest march in the university but an estimated 2,000 students did, raising slogans like “ABVP Down Down”, “ABVP Go Back” and “ABVP Don’t be so Creepy”.
Banners demanded the right to freedom of speech and condemned the ABVP for the February 21-22 incidents in the otherwise placid campus.
“We are here to make the ABVP understand that DU stands together against violence,” student Hindolee Datta told IANS.
Gurpreet, a student of Ambedkar University, told IANS: “Our right to protest has been taken away by the ABVP and RSS. This is not just about Delhi University but the whole nation.”
The protest mainly drew students from Delhi University and a sprinkling from the Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jamia Millia Islamia. Lecturers also joined the march.
On February 21, the ABVP forced Ramjas College to axe a seminar due to the participation of a JNU student charged with sedition last year.
The next day, ABVP activists were accused of attacking students, teachers and journalists during a protest march in the campus.
A teacher, Avinash, said: “It is not about ABVP, it is about hooliganism.”
Also on Tuesday, members of the Congress-backed National Students Union of India staged a hunger strike in the campus against the ABVP.
“I’m withdrawing from the campaign. Congratulations everyone. I request to be left alone. I said what I had to say,” Kaur tweeted.
“I have been through a lot and this is all my 20 year self could take,” said the daughter of a slain army officer. “To anyone questioning my courage and bravery, I’ve shown more than enough.”
A day after the Delhi Commission for Women wrote to police over the threats to Kaur, a FIR was registered on Tuesday under the IT Act and for sexual harassment and criminal intimidation.
At the same time, Kaur got the backing of her teachers.
“We unequivocally and strongly support Gurmehar and her right to express her opinion on issues that embroil our university,” faculty members of her college’s English Department said.
“It is immensely gratifying to us as her teachers that she has responded sensitively, creatively and bravely to events in her immediate context rather than seek the safe refuge of silence.”
The faculty slammed cricketer Virender Sehwag and actor Randeep Hooda for ridiculing her. “The threats of violence and brutality that she faces are absolutely reprehensible.”
Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal sought the arrest of ABVP activists blamed for the violence and said Lt Governor Baijal had promised “strict action”.
In a separate memorandum, the Aam Aadmi Party urged the police to arrest “ABVP goondas” who attacked and made rape threats to women students.
The National Human Rights Commission told the Delhi Police to probe the “excesses” by its men against the students for which three policemen have already been suspended.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad admitted that trolling Kaur was wrong but blamed the opposition for escalating the university issue.
Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju blamed leftists for the unrest, accusing them of celebrating when Indian soldiers die. CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury hit back.
“Ministers are supposed to work under the constitutional oath to ensure the rule of law. The current lot, instead, jumps to the support of those who threaten, abuse and bully a 20-year-old lady,” he said.