Ramjas Not Alone, ABVP Has a Legacy of Violence and Vandalism
ABVP members attacked protesting students and teachers outside Delhi University’s Ramjas College on Wednesday. (Photo Courtesy: <b>The Quint</b>/Lijumol Joseph)
ABVP members attacked protesting students and teachers outside Delhi University’s Ramjas College on Wednesday. (Photo Courtesy: The Quint/Lijumol Joseph)

Ramjas Not Alone, ABVP Has a Legacy of Violence and Vandalism

Delhi University has turned into a battleground, with Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) members attacking protesting students and teachers outside Ramjas College on Wednesday.

Also Read: Ramjas College Live: Left Groups to Protest at Police HQ Today

However, this is not the first time that ABVP activists have gone on the rampage. The RSS’ student wing has resorted to violence several times in the past. Here’s a recap of its long – and frequent – trysts with violence and controversy.

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September 2016: Central University of Haryana

On 21 September 2016, Central University of Haryana, Mahendragarh staged a dramatised adaptation of Mahasweta Devi’s story Draupadi. ABVP members promptly held a protest, branding the play ‘anti-national’ for allegedly projecting Indian soldiers in a negative light. They also demanded the arrest of the teachers and students involved on the charges of sedition.

Also Read: Draupadi’s ‘Encounter’: Seditious Students and Teachers of Haryana

A report in The Indian Express quoted Pramod Shastri, president of ABVP’s Haryana unit, as saying:

Our army personnel were portrayed as rapists… it seems unruly elements have entered the university. It seems those involved in the unrest at JNU, University of Hyderabad, Jamia and FTII have taken admission here as part of a plan and are behind this. 

Also Read: Staging Mahasweta Devi Play Leads to Unrest at Haryana University

May 2016: Jadavpur University

Students clashed in Jadavpur University in May 2016 after Bollywood film director Vivek Agnihotri screened his political drama Buddha in a Traffic Jam on the campus, amidst protests by a large section of Left-leaning students.

The ABVP not only screened the movie, permission for which had been denied by the varsity administration, but also manhandled and molested female students during the clashes.

March 2016: Delhi University

Ahwan, a students’ group, organised a discussion on 'The Life and Writings of Bhagat Singh' to mark Bhagat Singh’s martyrdom day. Chaman Lal, a retired JNU professor, was invited to speak.

Incensed by this, ABVP activists tried to disrupt the lecture by loudly shouting ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’ and threatening violence.

January 2016: Rohith Vemula Suicide Case

In August 2015, PhD researcher Rohith Vemula and other members of the Ambedkar Students’ Association held a protest against the hanging of 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Menon. A scuffle then broke out between ABVP and ASA members on the University of Hyderabad campus.

Susheel Kumar, an ABVP leader, made an “exaggerated” complaint of assault against Rohith, which eventually led to his suspension. On 17 January 2016, Rohith committed suicide as a result, triggering massive protests across India.

Also Read: Rohith Vemula’s Suicide: What is Susheel Kumar’s Defence?

February 2016: JNU, Najeeb and the Anti-National Debate

On 9 February 2016, a protest was held on the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus in Delhi to mark the hanging of 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.

Members of the ABVP and leftist outfits – who had organised the event – clashed at the venue. The ABVP later also alleged that anti-national slogans were chanted at the event. They demanded the arrest of the organisers, and cases of sedition were filed against them later.

Also Read: JNU Mahakatha: When Student Politics Became Sedition

This led to the arrest of JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar and two other student leaders. ABVP’s relentless protests also led to JNU being dubbed a hub of ‘anti-nationals’ – a tag it is still trying to fight off.

JNU student Najeeb Ahmad went missing on 15 October 2016 after an altercation with a few ABVP members the night before. The ABVP students had visited Najeeb’s hostel to distribute pamphlets for an upcoming election. It was there that the ABVP students got into an altercation with Najeeb, post which he was allegedly hit by an ABVP activist, Vikrant Kumar. It has been four months now yet Najeeb’s whereabouts are still unknown.

Also Read: Student Goes Missing in JNU After Altercation With ABVP Members

August 2015: Delhi University

The ABVP disrupted a screening of Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai, a documentary on the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, at Delhi University’s Kirori Mal College (KMC). They objected to the "anti-religious" elements in the film.

Also Read: Insaaf Baaki Hai: Riots Continue to Haunt Muzaffarnagar 4 Years On

February 2015: Jamshedpur Co-operative College

Angry over the suspension of college principal RK Das, ABVP members created a ruckus and indulged in vandalism on the premises.

ABVP and Amnesty

An Amnesty event organised in Bengaluru in August 2016 provided ABVP with yet another excuse to unleash mayhem.

The event, titled ‘Broken Families’, was meant to draw attention to alleged human rights violations in Kashmir. But ABVP members present at the event objected to the alleged "anti-national" slogans raised at the event. They demanded the arrest of those who allegedly raised the slogans and also stormed the Amnesty office building armed with petrol bombs.

Also Read: Amnesty in ABVP’s Sights: Bengaluru Police File Sedition Charges

While incidents of ABVP indulging in violence have been on the rise since BJP’s stormed to power in 2014, the student body has never shied away from muscle flexing. Even before BJP’s rise to power, ABVP has been involved in a long list of violent protests.

February 2008: Delhi University

ABVP activists went on the rampage in February 2008, vandalising Delhi University’s history department. The provocation: Inclusion of an essay titled 'Three Hundred Ramayanas' by AK Ramanujan in the recommended reading list for second year BA English Honours students. ABVP claimed that the essay “hurt Hindu sentiments”.

November 2008: Delhi University

In November 2008, ABVP again flexed its collective muscle. This was when Delhi University had organised a seminar titled 'Communalism: Fascism and Democracy, Rhetoric and Reality'.

ABVP objected to the presence of SAR Geelani, who had been acquitted in the Parliament attack case. Giving it reason yet again to vandalise the venue.

January 2012: Symbiosis College of Arts and Commerce, Pune

ABVP protested the screening of Sanjay Kak's documentary Jashn-e-Azadi, forcing the college to indefinitely postpone a seminar titled ‘Voices of Kashmir’.

ABVP and a Legacy of Violence

ABVP clearly has a tainted legacy of violence and the Ramjas College incident is not an isolated one. Curbing dissent and imposing its flawed notion of nationalism has been the student wing’s forte for long. The question is, where does it stop and what are the authorities doing about it?

(With inputs from Hindustan Times, The Indian Express, DailyO)

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