On a day when the government blamed Opposition parties for “creating an atmosphere of violence…especially in universities”, the ruling BJP’s NDA partners expressed “solidarity” with the students who were attacked in JNU. The party’s ruling ally in Bihar, JD(U), demanded the immediate sacking of Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar, and an inquiry by a Supreme Court judge into Sunday’s violence on the campus.
Condemning the violence, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar alleged that “some members of the Congress, Communists and the Aam Aadmi Party and some elements are deliberately creating an atmosphere of violence in the country, especially in universities”.
Suggesting that the violence was linked to tension on campus over registration of students, he said: “…in the last three days, when the registration for the semester had started, who was trying to put obstacles in the registration process… Who had damaged the equipment for registration and who beat the students who wanted to register… Yesterday, people from outside came and beat students of ABVP and other common students.”
Javadekar also questioned how political leaders, such as Swaraj India founder Yogendra Yadav, reached JNU “within ten minutes”. Javadekar claimed that “this is a conspiracy of some people to spread disquiet in the universities and it should be exposed”.
Javadekar also targeted the Financial Times of London for its coverage of the violence. Referring to an FT report that a “nationalist mob” had attacked a “secular university in Delhi”, Javadekar tweeted: “Dear @FT, Technologists across the world would be eager to get the tech possessed by you, which helps decipher that a masked mob is ‘nationalist’. Also, all universities & institutions in our country are secular.”
However, the JD(U), a key BJP ally, condemned the JNU Vice-Chancellor for his alleged inaction. “We strongly condemn the attitude of the university Vice-Chancellor and other authorities who became silent spectators of the dirty game of these goons,” said JD(U) spokesperson K C Tyagi in a statement.
The Akali Dal, said it “strongly condemns” the role of Delhi Police. “It reminds me of the anti-Sikh violence of 1984 when police personnel remained mute spectators,” the party’s Rajya Sabha MP Naresh Gujral told The Indian Express.
He demanded that the police “investigate the case quickly, identify the culprits, book them, and if needed, put them on trial in a special court”. “This kind of goondaism and hooliganism cannot be allowed in a democracy. The hoodlums have brought shame to the city and the country,” he said.
Condemning the violence, Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan demanded a “fair inquiry” and action against the culprits.
His son and LJP president Chirag Paswan, a Lok Sabha MP, said he was “shocked” by the violence. “The priority of the JNU administration should be the safety of students. Political parties should not turn universities into a political arena,” he said.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Chirag said there “should be a time-bound investigation and the culprits should be taken to task”.
In Hyderabad, Republican Party of India (A) chief and Union Minister Ramdas Athawale demanded an investigation. “Whoever is responsible, they should be arrested,” he said.
Meanwhile, addressing a rally in Delhi, where elections are scheduled on February 8, Union Home Minister Amit Shah did not mention Sunday’s violence but referred to the alleged anti-India slogans raised on the JNU campus in 2016. He criticised AAP leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for not granting sanction to prosecute those who allegedly raised the slogans.
“Some students shouted anti-India slogans, said ‘Bharat tere tukde honge’. Tell me should not they be sent to jail? But Kejriwal is not granting sanction to prosecute them. Who do you want to save, Kejriwal ji?” Shah said.
Speaking at another event, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also referred indirectly to those slogans. “I can certainly tell you that when I studied in JNU, we did not see any ‘tukde tukde’ gang there,” he said.
Party sources said the BJP’s narrative is that the violence in JNU was the handiwork of Left parties whose leaders had brought in “goons from outside” to attack ABVP activists who have been trying to help students register.
“Leftists goons have created the havoc in the campus because they have been opposed to the Vice Chancellor and his attempts to streamline the institution’s functioning. ABVP was trying to encourage the students to register and while they were visiting the hostels to do that, their goons attacked them,” Sudesh Verma, BJP spokesperson said.
Ashish Chouhan, national organising secretary, ABVP, maintained that “Left goons” were behind the attack. He claimed that JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh, who was injured in the violence, had led the “mask-wearing gang on campus”.
Amit Malviya, who is in charge of BJP’s National IT cell, posted videos alleging Left “brutality” and tweeted: “There is a motley group of Left leaning activists drawn from art, literature and Bollywood, lapsed academicians and failed politicians, who can’t win a municipal poll but are ideological mercenaries. Backed by opposition parties, they are the ones fomenting trouble on campuses”.
Party general secretary Ram Madhav retweeted videos blaming the Left for the attack.
(Inputs from Krishn Kaushik & PTI)