The students’ union of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) has come out in support of students of Delhi University three days after a seminar was forcefully cancelled at the university’s Ramjas College by supporters of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). The Mumbai wing of ABVP stood by its Delhi counterpart. “If any anti-national announcements are made in any educational institute, the ABVP will protest,” said Rohit Chandode, Mumbai secretary of ABVP. TISS students’ union has alleged that the ABVP’s motive was to suppress any discussion on issues of the marginalized and to preserve the “Brahmanical, patriarchal space” in universities.
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“The TISS Students’ Union condemns the ABVP’s repeated attempts across the country to suppress democratic spaces and voices, and stands in solidarity with students of Delhi University,” said a statement of the students’ union.
On February 21, a two-day seminar on ‘Cultures of Protest: A Seminar Exploring Representations of Dissent’ was organised by the Ramjas English department and Literary Society. Umar Khalid, a JNU student arrested on charges of sedition last year, was to be one of the speakers. The ABVP protested against the inclusion of Khalid and fellow JNU student Shehla Rashid in the panel.
Following clashes between ABVP workers and organisers, the seminar was cancelled. However, clashes continued the second day when students and teachers from various colleges and departments of the university marched to the campus police station to protest against the ABVP-led “vandalism”.
On Friday, the TISS students’ union claimed that ABVP was resorting to violence and hooliganism to suppress any discussion on issues of the marginalized.
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“Universities are supposed to provide space for nurturing critical thinking, academic and political deliberations among differing ideologies. It is this open space which the Sangh parivar and its various frontal organisations fear. In one university after the other, it has become clear that the agenda is to crush all resistance from anyone who does not believe in and comply with the idea of a Hindutva nation and this continues with the connivance of various arms of the government,” the union alleged.