On Sunday afternoon, March 14, several activists from BJP’s student wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) attacked Om Prakash Mahato, the president of Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association (BAPSA), and another fellow activist, at Jawaharlal Nehru University’s (JNU) Godavari hostel.
At 1.35 pm, the two were putting up posters for a public meeting to commemorate Kanshi Ram’s birth anniversary (March 15) when they were attacked. “When we put up our poster on the notice board of Godavari hostel, about 10-15 ABVP members came and pasted their own poster on top of ours,” Mahato told LiveWire.
“When I confronted them and told them this isn’t good, they tore apart both the posters and started abusing my caste, my mother and my sister,” he added.
According to Mahato, this is ABVP’s way of not letting BAPSA practice its politics in the campus. The attack, he alleges, could be in response to a chapter he co-authored in the book The Shudras: Vision For a New Path with Sharad Yadav, prominent socialist leader, but he isn’t sure.
In a Facebook post detailing the incident, BAPSA stated:
“The violence was clearly in response to BAPSA celebrating assertive, anti-caste thinkers like Manyavar Kanshiram Saheb. The assertive, anti-caste politics of BAPSA poses a strong challenge to Brahmanical forces which ABVP goons cannot digest.”
This isn’t the first time ABVP has resorted to violence on the campus.
In January 2020, Congress’s youth outfit National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) said its members were attacked by those affiliated to the ABVP in Ahmedabad. The NSUI members were protesting against the January 15 incident in JNU, wherein ABVP members barged inside the university’s hostel and attacked students who had been protesting against the university’s new hostel rules.
Mahato said that despite many such documented instances of violence, the administration never takes any steps to solve the problem. He alleged that the students who attacked them have FIRs filed against them already, but they still go about doing what they like on the campus.
“From where are they getting this privilege? Why haven’t they been arrested?” Mahato asked, adding that the security services on the campus aren’t doing their job properly. “If the security agency can’t do their very basic job, what’s the point in hiring them?”
BAPSA has therefore demanded the removal of Cyclops, the private agency that JNU’s vice chancellor had hired to maintain security on the campus. “We demand that Cyclops security, which has been acting as private militia of the ABVP, should be removed for their utter incompetence and refusal to act against these hooligans,” said the BAPSA statement.
In response to the attack, BAPSA organised a rally today (March 15) in the campus asserting their right. “We don’t want anyone to get hurt. We just want our rights to be preserved. The administration should make sure that we are all safe,” said Mahato.
Featured image credit: JNU official website