ABVP and Left student groups at JNU clash; both sides allege orchestrated attack

The ABVP group claimed that the Left students had vandalised and disrupted their Maha Shivratri celebration while the latter claimed that ABVP students "attacked" their Students Union

ABVP and Left student groups at JNU clash; both sides allege orchestrated attack

Amarabati Bhattacharyya

A clash broke out between the RSS-affiliated student group Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and the Left-controlled JNU Students' Union (JNUSU) on Sunday night.

The ABVP alleged that the Left-students vandalised and disrupted their Chhatrapati Shivaji Jayanti celebrations by breaking into their office Teflas, by taking down and "vandalising" Shivaji Maharaj's portrait.

"The Left group removed the garland from a picture of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and threw it away. The members affiliated to the Left organisations disrespected the portraits of not only Shivaji, but also that of Jyotiba Phule and Maharana Pratap. The moment our event got over, those from the Left organisations vandalised the place. Why are they hell bent on desecrating the legacy of every Bhartiya icon?" asked ABVP in their statement.

"On the occasion of Shivaji Jayanti, we kept a portrait at the student activity centre as tribute, but students from '100 Flowers' group and SFI threw it outside the room while garland was thrown in the dustbin," said JNU ABVP Secretary Umesh Chandra Ajmera.

"ABVP members kept Shivaji's portrait at the JNUSU office. The Leftists came there & removed all portraits and threw the garland in the dustbin and then a fight broke out. 5-6 ABVP members were also injured during this," said Kumar Ashutosh, JNU ABVP Convenor.

"The JNU administration and Delhi Police must take strict action against them and we also demand that the JNUSU office must be named after Shivaji Maharaj," asserted Ashutosh.

Ajmera underscored that "illegal students" must be stopped from entering the campus and creating chaos as they bring a "bad reputation" to the institution.

ABVP students staged protests against the JNUSU.
ABVP students staged protests against the JNUSU.

However, the Left-led JNUSU students claimed that they were "attacked" by ABVP and maintained that they did not "vandalise" or orchestrate the clash.

"ABVP members kept Shivaji's portrait at JNUSU office for which permission from JNUSU delegation was needed. Despite that, they did it illegally. Other students came and removed all portraits for the screening programme due to which a fight broke out between the two groups," said the JNUSU General Secretary.

Members of the JNUSU claimed that they had organised a candle march on Sunday over the death of Darshan Solanki, the 18-year-old Dalit student from IIT Bombay who allegedly committed suicide on February 12.

Ever since news of Solanki's death broke out, there have allegations and charges around institutional caste-based discrimination at IIT Bombay. Solanki's family and friends have suspected foul play as they believe the 18-year-old faced discrimination.

While IIT Bombay has denied the existence of caste-based violence, several politicians, social activists, and students groups from universities such as JNU has demanded a thorough probe into Solanki's death.

"Darshan Solanki was institutionally murdered by the casteist environment of IIT Bombay," claimed the JNUSU.

Maintaining that ABVP strategically orchestrated a conflict to subdue the march against caste-discrimination, the JNUSU said in a statement: "ABVP has once again resorted to attacking students. The clash happened soon after a candlelight march was held in solidarity with the call by Darshan Solanki's father. ABVP does this to derail the movement against caste discrimination."

"We had organised a march that ended at Sabarmati hostel around 9pm. It was then that we got to know that there was a scuffle at Teflas. It occurred before the scheduled movie screening at Teflas organised by the '100 Flowers' group," said a JNUSU member.

"At least two students were attacked by ABVP in front of Delhi police personnel and JNU security guards," he added.

However, despite claiming that JNUSU disrupted their celebrations, the ABVP students gathered together and celebrated Maha Shivratri for the first time ever at JNU on the same day.

Meanwhile, the JNUSU claimed that ABVP retaliated by attacking Tamil students on campus on Monday.

"Universities are not just spaces for learning but also for discussion, debate & dissent. The cowardly attack on Tamil students by ABVP and vandalising the portraits of leaders like Periyar, Karl Marx at JNU, is highly condemnable and calls for a strict action from the Univ Admin," tweeted Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu MK Stalin.

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