Eight opposition parties Tuesday came out in support of Allahabad University Students’ Union president Richa Singh, who they said was the “lone voice” on campus against the university’s “saffronisation” and was being “harassed” by the administration.
Raising the issue in Rajya Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said that after Rohith Vemula and Kanhaiya Kumar, a campaign of “character assassination” was being waged against her.
The statement said: “We are agonised over the fact that the first ever lady president of Allahabad University students’ union, Richa Singh, is being harassed by the administration….A government, that refuses to learn that autonomy of education institution is a foundation of democracy, is sowing widespread discontent in campuses by its blatant support to ABVP’s goondaism.”
Calling her a “lone voice against saffronisation” on campus, the statement said: “Richa Singh, a PhD scholar, won the students’ union polls as an Independent candidate, while all the other seats were won by ABVP….She is therefore the lone voice on campus against saffronisation of the university and came into the eye of the storm for protesting against the proposed visit of BJP MP Yogi Adityanath. ABVP members allegedly attacked the protesters but instead of investigating the attack, an inquiry was set up against Richa Singh herself. Further, there is a move now by the Vice Chancellor to declare her admission null and void, using some technical grounds, in order to get rid of what appears to be the only thorn in the ABVP’s side.”
The statement, signed by Congress’s Jairam Ramesh and Rajeev Shukla, CPM’s Sitaram Yechury, CPI’s D Raja, JD(U)’s K C Tyagi, SP’s Javed Ali Khan, DMK’s Tiruchi Siva, AAP’s Bhagwant Man (AAP) and RJD’s Jaiprakash Yadav, also said: “We are aghast that University administrations are witch hunting students, who have a different view…The HRD Minister is acting like the patron saint of ABVP and we wish to remind her that she is a minister of this vast, diverse country and not just of the RSS/BJP.”
Raising the issue in House, JD(U)’s Tyagi demanded the sacking of the V-C, accusing him of acting in an authoritarian manner. “We first saw the sacrifice of Rohith, then the Kanhaiya episode and now the Richa Singh episode is in the process,” Tyagi said.
In response, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said there should be “no attack” on students, student movements and student independence. Naqvi added that he will bring the matter to the notice of the minister concerned so that proper action could be taken if there has been any discrimination on part of the university administration.