A talk organised at Fergusson College by Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad on the topic ‘Truth of JNU’ was disrupted by a group of students who called themselves Ambedkarites. As the matter escalated rapidly, leading to heated exchanges, the college administration was forced to call the police for help.
The talk, which was part of a series of such events organised at five different college campuses in Pune, was being delivered by Alok Singh, head of ABVP wing at Jawaharlal Nehru University, around 11 am. It was the second such discussion where about 30-odd students present in Kimaya, the open-air theatre of the college, were being told about the “facts” of the JNU incident by Singh. Suddenly another group of 30-40 students landed there and started their protest, raising slogans, and the two groups got involved in a verbal duel. In the group of students opposing ABVP’s event was Sujat Ambedkar, son of Prakash Ambedkar and great grandson of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.
Students who had gathered under the Ambedkarite ideology group started raising slogans for Kanhaiya Kumar, Rohith Vemula and even slogans demanding “azaadi” from Manusmriti, RSS, BJP and so on.
The administration, who were fearful of violence breaking out, called the police, who brought the situation under control and escorted both groups out of the campus within minutes. The college authorities said no permission had been granted for the discussion organised by ABVP. “We had not granted any permission for the event. Currently, exams are going on and we do not allow such activities on campus. Some students had gathered for an informal meeting but when we learnt of clashes, we immediately informed the police,” said principal Dr R G Pardeshi.
Meanwhile, Alok Singh, president, ABVP’s JNU unit, who was addressing the meeting, said such discussions are common at JNU and even opposing viewpoints are welcomed. “In fact, we even asked them to join the discussion and raise their questions. I was ready to answer all of them. But they just wanted to disrupt the entire peaceful discussion we were having,” claimed Singh.
Pallavi Deshpande, ABVP FC College secretary, said the ABVP had asked the principal for permission, which was not given in writing as they were told that an informal discussion didn’t need written permission.
Meanwhile, Bhushan Raut, a student from Ambedkarite ideology from the campus, said they were against the idea of an academic campus being used for a political event. “First of all, it was an unauthorised event as they had no official permission from the college. They were using the college space and chairs and mats which are college property. Also we have observed that this college campus is being regularly used for right-wing events…” he said.
Stating that a college should be apolitical, third-year political science student Sidharth Kamble demanded action against the people who organised the event.
By evening, another protest broke out at FC as right-wing outfit, Patit Pawan Sanghatna, gathered in the campus to protest against Ambedkarite students.