Sharing a note I posted in a whatsapp group of DU English teachers on the violence on campus (Ramjas and thereafter)
(will come back to this post later as the context of the group and the discussion that happened there prompting this response aren’t explained. also, as usual there is liberal use of contextual irony on my part 🙁 )
It is good that no one is reminding that this whatsapp group is only meant for one purpose (academic, which was often bandied around) whenever some other discussion cropped up) As somebody who was there on campus yesterday and returned only late night after escorting a physically challenged colleague who was badly roughed up by the police while peacefully protesting ABVP’s disruption and violence, I want to mention a few things here.
1. The Ramjas literary society had all the permissions for the topic and the speakers
2. The topic was ‘cultures of protest’ and they only erred in not inviting the representatives of the sangh (RSS/ABVP) who also has a lumpen culture of protest (but that didn’t protect the Jodhpur university professor, we know)
3. Whether one likes it or not Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid are students with very good academic credentials (they are part of PhD programs that are rigorous and have been selected through due process of examination). Umar was there to speak on his PhD work on the ongoing war against adivasis in Bastar
4. These two are not convicted by any court of law and they do have a considered opinion on many things that are relevant, whether we like those or not
5. Prasanta Chakravarty (Associate Professor, department of English) and many students were attacked from behind with bricks and lathis by the ABVP goons. They tried to strangle him with the muffler he was wearing by pulling on the two ends in the opposite direction and he was beaten up. Police was there and did nothing to stop the goons or help him
6. Ramjas students and teachers were locked in and continuously threatened and attacked by ABVP for 4 hours inside the college.
7. Chairs were hurled at two women teachers, the goons were openly looking for another male teacher of the college with brazen threats of violence. Please remind ourselves that it was ABVP students who stabbed a rajasthan professor to death 2-3 years back
8. The protesting students and teachers (around 200) who then marched to the Maurice nagar thana were subjected to a barrage of eggs, glass bottles and heavy stones on their way as well as in front of the thana in full view of the police by the ABVP(50-60). They did not allow the injured students to lodge FIRs, targeted women continuously with sexual threats and raised communal, anti-Muslim naaras
9. The police who never detained the ABVP, then started physical attack on teachers, students and even the media personnel by around 6 pm in the name of detaining. Many women were manhandled by male police along with male protestors injuring and traumatising all
Now, a few facts about the takes in this group and public domain.
1. Though I don’t belong to DTF, please note that they weren’t the organizers of the Ramjas event. The department literary society with enough diversity of participants and political opinions did that.
2. The protest was not by any one organisation -AISA- but by students and teachers across political spectrum barring the right wing majoritarian sanghis
3. When someone mentioned Kashmiri students, it was x who put that in inverted commas and asked what they were doing in the seminar. It shows a prejudice of a certain self-righteousness as it is followed by assertions/homogenizations such as Kashmiri students are propagating jihad as azadi
4. Let us all show solidarity with perspectives similar to ours but if people indulge in prejudicial banter, willfully forget facts and claim them to be rational academic arguments, they stand exposed for precisely the lack of it – I hope there is no need to share my list of such arguments here but if need be, it can be
5. Y n Z , hope she (their daughter who was attacked and injured) is recovering and will stay strong – in her convictions and her solidarity – love
Some general observations
1. Sanghi devotion to patriotism can be figured out in savarkars and golwarkars letters to the British pleading clemency while the radical tradition of Bhagat Singh is what the protesters including me would like to uphold
2. Sanghis bharat mata holds bhagwa jhanda and not tiranga
3. In 1947 RSS was vehemently opposed to tiranga as national flag and wanted their bhagwa as national flag
4. RSS is the only ‘cultural’ organisation that conducts regular martial and arms training in this country
And to conclude: No one from the protesters, and yes the left, indulged in physical violence while if you care to remember there are numerous other instances of ABVP doing that in DU and other campuses. Do we want to condone that?