New Delhi: The Indian national capital on February witnessed one of the largest gatherings of students and teachers protesting increasing incidents of violence on campus.
The immediate trigger for the march was the clashes at the Ramjas College, which have been blamed on the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP, All India Student Coundil) affiliated to the Bharatiya Janata Party that heads the federal coalition government.
The protesters, including eminent academicians, shouted slogans of “Azaadi” (freedom), calling for a campus free of what they described as “gundagardi (hooliganism).”
A large contingent of armed policemen walked alongside the protesters. Gurmehar Kaur, the student who has alleged death threats over her posts against the ABVP, pulled out of the campaign saying she had taken “all she could.”
In a series of tweets, Gurmehar Kaur appealed others to join the “Save DU” march at the in huge numbers. “To anyone questioning my courage and bravery. I’ve shown more than enough,” she wrote.
The 20-year-old was trolled relentlessly and was threatened with rape and murder after she posted a message protesting against ABVP.
The Delhi Police have registered a case against unknown persons over the rape threats to Kaur, daughter of a soldier who died during India-Pakistan Kargil conflict in 1999.
ABVP activists on February 27 organized a ‘Tiranga’ (tricolor) march to protest against what they called “anti-national” activities by “left-leaning” students.
Last week, ABVP activists allegedly thrashed students and teachers at Ramjas College for an invite to Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid. Khalid was charged with sedition last year over an on-campus event in which anti-national slogans were raised.
In clashes between two student groups a day later, more than a dozen were injured.
The row took a political twist with politicians taking sides.
Arvind Kejriwal and Rahul Gandhi have backed the students’ protest.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who has come out strongly in support of Kaur, tweeted that he would meet Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal to demand action against “ABVP goondaism and rape threats” to the student.
Union Minister Kiren Rijiju appeared to take a different view, stressing that “anti-national” acts cannot be condoned in the name of freedom of expression. “Final result of all this student protests should be that students should focus on building the country. They should spend more time studying,” the minister told NDTV.