Some former office-bearers of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), along with ABVP’s JNU unit vice-president Jatin Goraya and members from other student organisations like AISA and AIBSF, burnt photocopies of select verses of the Manusmriti in campus Tuesday.
Chanting slogans like ‘ Manuwad ki kabar khudegi, JNU ki dharti par’, the students said the content of these verses from the ancient text were “biased against women and shudras”.
“Manusmriti is a discriminatory text and setting fire to the Manusmriti equals burning the idea of discrimination,” said Goraya.
Responding to the protest, JNUSU joint-secretary and ABVP member Saurabh Kumar Sharma said that the organisation would continue to work with “ABVP member on the cause of nation-building.”
Sharma also added that the “excerpts burnt were anti-women and anti-SC, anti-ST and anti-OBC, and had even received stark criticism from Kautilya”.
In a statement, Sharma said, “ABVP believes in democratic and equal rights for all the sections of society. It strongly supports individual rights and freedom of expression, where it gives full freedom to any of its members to condemn and criticise anything to any extent unless it does not hamper the unity and integrity of India. The excerpts burnt by one of our activists were anti-women and anti-SC, ST and OBC. These excerpts are totally irrelevant and had received stark criticism even from Kautilya. The person who burnt these excerpts is a member of ABVP and we will continue working for the cause of nation-building together in future.”
The event was organised at JNU’s Sabarmati dhaba.
Quoting verses from Manusmriti, former ABVP member Pradeep Narwal said, “One should not marry woman who have reddish hair, redundant parts of the body (such as six fingers), one who is often sick, one without hair or having excessive hair and one who has red eyes… is this how women should be treated and judged,” he questioned.
Narwal also said that he couldn’t accept anyone who supported a book like Manusmriti that ‘intensified untouchability in India’.