The protest march in Delhi University against alleged ABVP violence at Ramjas College concluded Tuesday after a day of speeches and sloganeering. The protest march began from SGTB Khalsa College and went on in the direction of the Arts Faculty. Members of the Congress-backed NSUI were sitting on a hunger strike outside the Arts faculty. Students from various Delhi University colleges joined the protest. While earlier protests were backed by Left student unions, the protest today was full of students unaffiliated to any political ideology.
“We are not here to support AISA or ABVP but have come to show our solidarity for the freedom of speech and expression,” said a student from Khalsa College who wished not to be named.
The protest today was later joined by various politicians. Sitaram Yechury and D Raja joined from CPI while Yogendra Yadav from Swaraj India also pledged support. Students and teachers from JNU, Jamia Millia Islamia and Amdedkar University also attended the march. Former JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar was also present at the march and raised slogans against ABVP at the event. Kanhaiya was one of the three JNU students arrested last year in the sedition case.
The march saw a turnout of 800 people.
Former vice president of JNU Students’ Union, Shehla Rashid Shora, attended the protest march and said the turnout has been encouraging. Speaking to IndianExpress.com, she said, “The huge turnout at this protest march gives us hope for unity. We stand united against the violence perpetrated by ABVP.” Shehla also took a dig at ABVP and said their “patience has been exemplary.”
Meanwhile, ABVP addressed a press conference, claiming that it was the Left that had started the violence on the day of Ramjas incident. “ABVP tried to calm down the situation. The Left wants to do one anti-national event in a year. Now they want to spoil the environment of Delhi University. Common students are wondering why there is so much police in the campus. Those who protest against police in JNU campus are enforcing police in DU,” ABVP Delhi state secretary said.
Towards the end of the march, ABVP also tried to disrupt the protest. However, its efforts were thwarted by the police stationed at Art Faculty. The march ended before 5 pm and protesters were asked to leave the Arts Faculty premises through the back exit as the front exit had been blocked by ABVP.
Gurmehar Kaur, daughter of the slain soldier in Kashmir who had raised her voice against ABVP and started the campaign ‘Not Afraid of ABVP’ was also slated to join the march. However, following rape threats and verbal attacks since her campaign, she chose to withdraw from the march and did not attend it.