Violence broke out in the night at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on January 5 as masked men armed with sticks attacked students and teachers and damaged property on the campus, prompting the administration to call in police which conducted a flag march. At least 18 people, including JNU Students’ Union president Aishe Ghosh, were injured and admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) as chaos reigned on the campus for nearly two hours.
The violence drew strong reactions from opposition parties which hit out at the BJP and accused “those in power” of trying to scuttle the voice of students. Senior Union ministers and JNU alumni S Jaishankar and Nirmala Sitharaman swiftly condemned the incident. Sitharaman asserted that the government wants universities to be safe spaces for all students. The JNU administration said “masked miscreants armed with sticks were roaming around, damaging property and attacking people” and that police had been called in to maintain law and order. The students alleged that the attackers entered hostels and assaulted students and teachers. Video footage aired by some TV channels showed a group of men, who were brandishing hockey sticks, moving around a building.
Delhi Police said it conducted a flag march and the situation was brought under control after it got a written request from the JNU administration. The Left-controlled JNUSU and the ABVP blamed each other for the violence. The students’ union alleged that its members, including Ghosh, were injured in stone pelting by ABVP members. But the RSS-backed students’ organisation alleged that its members were brutally attacked by Left-affiliated student outfits and 25 of them were injured, while 11 were missing. Among the injured was the secretary of its JNU unit.
Violence at JNU Teachers’ Association meeting
The violence occurred while a public meeting by the JNU Teachers’ Association was being held. “We had organised a peace meet at the tea point at 5 pm. As soon as it got over, we saw that a large number of people entered the campus and they started arbitrarily attacking teachers and students,” R Mahalaxmi, a professor of History department, said.“How did such a large number of people with rods in their hands enter the campus, that is what we are wondering about. I think they were political activist instigated by the people who always call us anti-nationals,” Pradeep Shinde, another professor, said.
JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh brutally beaten up
In a video shared online, Ghosh could be seen bleeding from the head. “I have been brutally beaten up by people wearing masks.... I was there with one of my activists when I was brutally beaten up. I am not even able to talk,” she is heard saying in the video. Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal expressed shocked over violence at JNU. “I am so shocked to know abt the violence at JNU. Students attacked brutally. Police shud immediately stop violence and restore peace. How will the country progress if our students will not be safe inside univ campus?” Kejriwal tweeted. Earlier, JNU registrar Pramod Kumar said in a statement, “This is an urgent message for the entire JNU community that there is a law and order situation on the campus.... The JNU Administration has called the police to maintain order.”
The JNUSU claimed that “ABVP members wearing masks were moving around on the campus with lathis, rods and hammers. They are pelting bricks...getting into hostels and beating up students. Several teachers have also been beaten up,” the JNUSU claimed. A large section of JNU students have been taking part in the protests against the amended Citizenship Act in the national capital.