New Delhi, Shouting “ABVP Go Back”, hundreds of students marched through Delhi University on Tuesday to denounce the RSS-affiliated body for attacking students, teachers and journalists in the campus.
Some 2,000 students, both boys and girls, walked from Khalsa College at the edge of the university through the sprawling campus and later gathered at the Arts Faculty, shouting slogans all the time.
Many held banners demanding the right to freedom of speech and condemning the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) for the February 21-22 disturbances in the otherwise placid campus.
“We are here to show solidarity and to make the ABVP understand that DU (Delhi University) stands together against violence,” student Hindolee Datta told.
Datta was from Lady Shri Ram College, whose student Gurmehar Kaur received death and rape threats after launching a social media campaign against the ABVP.
Gurpreet, a student of Delhi’s Ambedkar University, told: “There have been increasing threats to the rights of citizens and students. Our right to protest has been taken away by the ABVP and RSS.
“This is not just about Delhi University but the whole nation.”
Hindolee and Gurpreet spoke as a mass of students walked slowly towards the Arts Faculty holding banners and shouting slogans. A large contingent of police accompanied them.
The protest mainly drew students from Delhi University, one of the oldest in the country, as well as a sprinkling from the Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jamia Millia Islamia.
Several lecturers also joined the march.
On February 21, the ABVP forced the Ramjas College in the university to cancel a seminar because of the participation of a JNU student charged with sedition last year.
The next day, ABVP activists were accused of attacking students, teachers and journalists during a protest march in the Delhi University campus.
Protesters insisted their march on Tuesday was not political but for freedom in the campuses.
“I was bruised on the 22nd because of stone pelting. I don’t belong to any political party. I am here to protest against violence,” said a Ramjas College student who did not want to be named.
A lecturer who joined the show of strength underlined that she was there “for the safety of students threatened by the ABVP”.
Another teacher, Avinash, added: “This is not about ABVP, this is about hooliganism. The people who indulged in violence are not nationalists, they are macho elements.”
“ABVP Down Down,” “ABVP Go Back” and “ABVP Dont be so Creepy” were among the slogans the students kept raising. Another was: “Delhi Police, Sanghi Police.”
The call for Tuesday’s march was given by the Left-leaning All India Students Association but drew even those who do not agree with the group.
Former JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar also joined the protest.
Also on Tuesday, members of the Congress-affiliated National Students Union of India (NSUI) staged a hunger strike in the campus, also against the ABVP.
“After the Ramjas violence, a majority of students who want a peaceful campus are scared… There is hardly any space for debate,” NSUI President Amrita Dhawan told.
“Nothing justifies violence. We live in a democratic country where people can have different opinions,” Dhawan added.
On Monday, the ABVP held a “Tiranga march” in the campus.