On Tuesday morning, students, teachers and administrators of Delhi University found a new addition to North Campus — a pillar with busts of V D Savarkar, Bhagat Singh and Subhas Chandra Bose atop it — installed by the ABVP-led Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU). The ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad) is the students’ wing of the RSS.
The pillar came up overnight and, by DUSU’s own admission, without permission from university authorities. A guard who was on duty at the Faculty of Arts — at the gates of which the pillar has been installed — said that a mini-truck was brought in a green tent-like structure around 2 am, which was set up outside the gate and surrounded by ABVP activists. Around 9.30 am, the structure was removed to reveal the pillar.
“We have written to university officials several times asking for permission to set up such a monument — last November, this March, April and again in August — but we got no response. So we decided to go ahead and do it ourselves,” said DUSU president Shakti Singh, whose name has been laid down as the “installer” in a plaque on the pillar.
The pillar is made of red stone and the busts atop it are made of marble. The plaque on it reads “Aazadi ke naayak Veer Savarkar, Bhagat Singh, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose ki moorti sthaapna 20 August 2019 ko ki gayi,” referring to the three as “heroes of freedom”.
“All three had taken different paths but they had the same destination and there has been a lot of slander against all three. We wanted to do this so that young people learn about them and their contributions,” said Singh.
According to him, the pillar was made in Jaipur by a “renowned” craftsman, whose name he said he could not recall, and was brought to Delhi “around one or two days ago”. He claimed that the cost was crowdfunded by members of the union, the ABVP and their “friends”.
The installation of the pillar was criticised by both the Congress-affiliated National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) and the left-wing All India Students’ Association (AISA), particularly for the installation of Savarkar’s bust.
“ABVP, by using figurines of Subhas Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh and Savarkar together, have humiliated our freedom fighters who laid down their lives for this country. When our freedom fighters were facing police atrocities, torture and inhuman treatment at the hands of our colonial oppressors, Savarkar and his ultra right-wing extremists were writing mercy petitions to the British while asking his Hindu Mahasabha members to restrain themselves from participating in the Quit India Movement of 1942,” said NSUI Delhi state president Akshay Lakra.
AISA criticised the move as “an attempt by ABVP/RSS to paint him as a prominent freedom fighter and to rewrite history”.
“This clubbing of Savarkar along with Bhagat Singh and Bose shows the desperation on the part of ABVP, which wants to give legitimacy to Savarkar’s vision of Hindu Rashtra,” said Delhi AISA president Kawalpreet Kaur.
DU has released the Code of Conduct for this year’s DUSU election, but the dates have not been announced so far.
“I am not aware of the incident but it seems like some children must have done it during election time,” said DU registrar Tarun Das. Asked if anyone can install a statue on campus, Das said the Proctor handles such issues. Proctor Neeta Sehgal did not respond to calls seeking a comment.