‘Dissent is not sedition’: DU students gather to talk, invite ABVP sloganshttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/dissent-is-not-sedition-du-students-gather-to-talk-invite-abvp-slogans/

‘Dissent is not sedition’: DU students gather to talk, invite ABVP slogans

While those eager to participate in the event sang songs, clapped and cheered on those expressing their views, students with allegiance to ABVP hurled abuses at the gathering.

A peaceful gathering of Delhi University students at Arts Faculty to discuss recent events in JNU turned into a raucous affair Wednesday, with ABVP supporters shouting abusive slogans and calling students with opposing ideologies ‘anti-nationals’.

While those eager to participate in the event sang songs, clapped and cheered on those expressing their views, students with allegiance to ABVP hurled abuses at the gathering.

“Delhi University doesn’t have a culture of holding public meetings. Today, let’s talk… let’s talk about dissent, rationality… Agar aaj hum baat nahi karenge, toh kab (If we don’t talk today, then when)? JNU is the target today, we could be next,” said Rohan Kathpalia, a student at Delhi’s Law Faculty and an organiser of the event.

However, as students started sharing how they felt, ABVP supporters started chanting slogans calling them “anti-national” and asking them to leave India. Ayush, an ABVP supporter said, “It is the judiciary who will decide if Kanhaiya (JNUSU president) is guilty or not. Who are these guys to condemn? By taking sides,they are behaving like Communists from JNU.” The participants refused to get into a squabble and showed ABVP supporters a copy of the Constitution instead.

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Devangana Kalita, from Pinjra Tod group, said, “They hurled abuses at us, but we continued to chant slogans extending our solidarity to JNU. These guys should know that DU won’t be intimidated by goons like them.”

Gaurav Jain, one of the organisers of the event, urged the students, “They want us to get into a squabble… let’s ignore them.” The students urged those from the ABVP to present their views, but they continued sloganeering.

Holding a placard that read ‘Dissent is not Sedition’ towards the ABVP supporters, Naval, who studies Economics at SRCC, said, “I have no political affiliation and came here to only express what I felt. Buy they have been abusing me for the last 15 minutes, refusing to listen to anything I say. So I’m holding this.”

Police drove away the protesters after sloganeering intensified and opposing sides nearly came to blows.

“Some slogans were outrageous, but any liberal society runs on the principle that those who shout outrageous slogans should not fear for their safety. If they are not safe, we are not safe,” DU alumnus Abhishek Rai told the gathering.

“The situation will not let us remain apolitical. It demands us to speak out,” he said.