The Kaveri Hostel and Mess Committees of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on Wednesday, 13 April issued a statement disputing claims made by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and underlining the JNU administration's inaction in response to the violence that ensued in the hostel mess on Ram Navami.
The bodies also refuted the JNU administration's assertion that the clash erupted over holding a pooja, even as JNU Vice Chancellor Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit on Wednesday, reiterated this claim.
At least 16 students were injured in the JNU campus on 10 April after the clashes between students, allegedly over the serving of non-vegetarian food on the Hindu festival.
Since then, conflicting versions of the mayhem and its cause have emerged from the JNU Students' Association (JNUSU), and ABVP members, with both holding ABVP and 'leftists' responsible, respectively.
What the Hostel & Mess Committees Say
The more recent statement by the Kaveri Hostel Committee and Mess Committee read,
"The unfortunate set of events which transpired inside Kaveri hostel on 10th April, 2022 were a disappointing consequence of administrative callousness; suppression and politicization of the Right to Choice of Food. A matter internal to Kaveri hostel blew out of proportions.."
The statement contradicted two primary claims made by the ABVP – first, that they took no objection to the serving of non-vegetarian food on Ram Navami, and second, that the 'leftist' students took objection to the pooja and created ruckus.
Corroborating their points, the committees stated that "there are videos to prove that ABVP activists, many of them not residents of Kaveri hostel, actually threatened the chicken meat supplier not once but twice, and sent him away."
It also underlined that the Navami pooja, which began at 4 pm and concluded around 7 pm happened side by side with the iftar preparations quite seamlessly.
"We see that ABVP has made two false claims and tried to twist the narrative toward a communal direction, when in essence, the issue was about freedom of Right to food," the statement read.
'Wardens Attempted To Impose No Non-Veg Policy'
Resuming the statement, the bodies also held the JNU administration responsible for their callousness, alleging that the warden(s) attempted to impose a no non-veg-food policy on Ram Navami.
"The Mess secretary demanded that such a decision cannot be imposed upon the mess committee. The Warden(s) cannot interfere with the mess menu," the statement held, adding that no administrative action was taken when the meat supplier was threatened.
On the violence, the committees said that the information about a potential fallout reached the administrative ears long before matters got extremely violent. However, no official intervened.
Therefore, the statement went on to put forth the following demands:
The press release by the JNU administration office is completely false and must be taken back immediately
An independent enquiry be held upon the wardens of Kaveri Hostel over their complete incapability and disregard for containing the violence, and must be suspended. If the enquiry finds them guilty, then the warden(s) must resign
The representatives from the JNU administration must come and meet the victims of the attack at Kaveri Hostel and identify through them the perpetrators of violence and initiate legal action accordingly
What the JNU Statement Had Said
On Monday, the JNU released a statement urging everyone to "exercise restraint," and claimed that the administration "immediately swung into action" after it was notified of the ruckus.
It claimed further, "It was the occasion of Rama Navami and Hawan was organized by the students in the Kaveri Hostel and there were students who were objecting to this. The wardens and Dean of Students tried to pacify and the Hawan was concluded peacefully. Despite this some group of students were not happy with this and soon after, at the time of dinner, a ruckus was created over there and heated arguments were followed by altercation.."
'Proctorial Enquiry Ordered': JNU VC's Statement
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit stated,
"The issue erupted on whether 'Ram Navami Havan' should be conducted and regarding the food menu. These are the versions of the two groups. The proctorial enquiry was ordered and we're waiting for reports, it'll be an impartial enquiry."Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit, as per ANI
Denouncing violence, the VC underlined that while the JNU "appreciates diversity and dissent," it should not have violence.
Saying that she wants to "correct the public perception that we are tukde-tukde," the VC stressed that the university is "as nationalistic as anybody else."
(With inputs from ANI.)