As the Fergusson College and Ranade Institute campuses return to normalcy after the clashes that erupted over the visit of Jawaharlal Nehru University’s ABVP unit president Alok Singh here, Kanhaiya Kumar, president of JNU students’ union who was arrested on charges of sedition, is preparing to visit Pune.
Kumar spoke to mediapersons over a phone call during a press conference organised by All India Students Federation (AISF) in the city and said he would visit cities where his presence was needed. “It is a very serious situation that we are facing in India, right now. An attempt is being made to take away the rights of the students by the government. Our freedom is being snatched away. This fight is not restricted to one student or one college, but is of the entire nation. We all have to unite to fight for the cause of the students, for education and employment. And wherever there will be such a movement to protect democracy, I will take part in it as a foot soldier,” he said.
On March 22, Alok Singh visited many college campuses in Pune where he spoke on the topic ‘Truth of JNU’ and tried to explain ABVP’s version of the February 9 incident in JNU and Kumar’s role in the entire episode. At Fergusson College, his event was disrupted by Ambedkarite students who shouted pro-Rohit Vemula and pro-Kumar slogans.
Later in the evening, Singh had to face tough questions from media students at Ranade Institute. The issue soon escalated as other political parties jumped in the fracas.
Later the Pune university officials asked for police protection when students said members of Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) had threatened them with physical harm if Kanhaiya Kumar was invited to the campus for any event.
Even as Vice-Chancellor Wasudeo Gade had asked students not to organise any such event, three student groups together extended an invite to Kumar to visit Pune.
“Two student groups from Pune have extended the invite, besides invitations received from other cities. Hence in April, Kanhaiya Kumar is likely to visit various cities like Pune, Mumbai, Kolhapur, Beed, Amravati and Aurangabad. In Pune, there will be a massive rally. Currently, we are still finalising the dates and other details,” said Girish Fonde, member of All India Youth Federation (AIYF) at the press conference.
Asked about the threat from BJYM, Kumar said he was not surprised by it. “Whether it is BJYM or ABVP, they are sections of RSS who don’t allow people to speak the truth and point out their wrong. These people are against democracy and the judicial system, but we have to continue on our path. We know that without fighting we won’t get anything. Instead of getting scared, we will fight for our rights,” said Kumar.
Meanwhile at the Fergusson College campus, there was a heavy police presence. Only a few students were seen on campus, owing to the impending exams. At Ranade institute too, things seemed to have returned to normalcy.