The latest attack on the JNU is likely to strengthen the resolve of students nationwide to carry on with their protests.
Students from across the nation and even overseas have been staging demonstrations against Sunday’s violent attack on the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi which left 34 students, teachers and security guards injured.
Within hours of the news of the attack, students began gathering in places in Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru and Aligarh to express their support for the JNU students and to criticise the attackers, allegedly from the right wing students union, Akhil BharatiyaVidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. Most of the critics of the ABVP point out that the slogans being shouted by the 50-odd armed men and women that entered without any checks and freely roamed around the JNU campus for several hours were pretty much those that the ABVP has used against the JNU and its student union in the past.
The government, for its part, has been less than decisive in its response to the incident that has again made uncomplimentary headlines for India in the global press. While the Prime Minister has maintained a stoic silence, the Union Home Minister has asked the Delhi police to conduct an enquiry and two ministers of the government, who belong to the JNU alumni, have criticised the violence.
The JNU Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) has demanded removal of vice chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar for failing to protect the students and the faculty. The police say they have registered a case against unidentified persons and were yet to make any arrests in the attack. Khusbhu, a student of Masters in Political Science at JNU told Media India Group that a peaceful gathering of JNUTA was attacked by ABVP supporters and that “a mob of 30-40 people with sticks, rods and other iron weapons started beating up the students and faculty members.” The masters student, who injured her leg while running away from the mob also communicated that “one of our professors urged us to be united and to ask the perpetrators what they wanted, but without uttering a word they continued beating the students.” The ABVP, for its part, alleged that its members were attacked by the left-wing students.
Vice chancellor, M. Jagadesh Kumar in a statement blamed the whole scenario on the students saying that “origin of present situation in JNU lies in some agitating students turning violent and obstructing academic activities of a large number of non-protesting students. They damaged University communication servers to disrupt the winter semester registration.”
Following the attack on the premier university in the capital city, various other universities and institutes in India erupted with protests against the brutality and violence in JNU notably, the protest at the Gateway of India that begun late in the night of December 5 with a candle light march. Attended mostly by the students of IIT Bombay, TISS and University of Mumbai, the march also saw the presence of JNU alumnus Umar Khalid and the comedian and famed BJP critic Kunal Kamra.
The incident has unanimously gathered criticism from all political parties, from calling it ‘a desperate attempt by forces of anarchy’ to comparing it with the ‘26/11 Mumbai terror attack’.
The JNU has been in the sights of the BJP for almost six years now, with various attempts being made to not only defame the university, arguably the best in the country and fiercely independent, but also to let the ABVP take control over the JNUSU. Sunday’s attack is being interpreted by some critics of the government as a desperate attempt to drive fear into not only the students of JNU, but indeed students around the country that have been protesting against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act and the police brutality against protestors around the country. Less than a day later, this attempt, if it was indeed an attempt to browbeat the students into submission, seems to have failed.