ABVP vs Left: Kashmir, Azadi and Freedom of Expression
ABVP claims it differs with NSUI too on various issues but confrontations are always with Left which ‘manufactures’ anger; Left-leaning SFI says BJP promoting goondaism in planned manner
New Delhi: Studentunionclashesat Delhi University’s Ramjas College have hit headlines amid a busy poll season and they reflect a pattern. From Hyderabad University to Jawaharlal Nehru University to the Delhi University, the issues that have provokedstudentconfrontationsarea clutchof interrelatedissues:Kashmir, terrorism, the debate around ‘Azadi’ and the freedom of expression. The key confrontation is also, repeatedly between student groups aligned to the Left parties and the RSS’s student wing, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).
While public memory connects the students agitation at the Hyderabad University to Rohith Vemula’s suicide and sense of discrimination owing to his caste, a revision of the history of his expulsion takes one back to a protest against Bombay blasts accused YakubMenon’shanging.Vemula,part of theAmbedkarStudentAssociation, was expelled from the University hostel after a confrontation with the varsity ABVP president over this protest.
Months later, the debate erupted in the Jawaharlal Nehru University — seen by many as the Left bastion. A public event at the varsity where alleged ‘azadi’ slogans were raised caused a massive uproar bringing the cops into the campus and throwing up a new student leader in Kanhaiya Kumar.
Ramjas College in DU now fits in another piece to the picture with a protest over a seminar by a college department wherein JNU Students Union vice president Shehla Rashid and Umar Khalid—the man at the eye of the storm in the JNU agitation over azadi slogans—were invited to speak.Amidobjectionsraisedbystudent office bearers in the college and ABVP, the invitations were withdrawn and the organisers decided to discontinue the seminar in protest. The heat, however, ended in ugly campus violence with every side blaming the other, the Delhi police stepping in and journalist ending up thrashed this week.
“What exactly is the issue here? Thisisbeingdonepurposelybysome sections. This is the urban face of anti-nationalism to confuse people and exploit the social fault lines for divisive motives. Using labels like ‘goondaism’ for ABVP is unfair. How manypeopledidABVPstudentsbeat up at HCU or JNU or here? In fact, ABVP’s Sushil Kumar was thrashed at HCU. There are 750 universities and 42,000 colleges and just three places have this issue and that is because some political powers created such centres which are in turn causingnuisance.ABVPwillcounterthis strongly at an intellectual level across campuses. We will also request the government and administration to act against anti-national activities, ” Ambekar told ET. Saket Bahuguna of ABVP’s National Media Convenors says, “NSUI is one of the largest student groups and we differ with them on various ideological issues but you will notice that the confrontations are always with the Left who ‘manufacture’ anger and dissent.
VikramSingh,Presidentof theLeft leaning Student Federation of India, accuses ABVP of defaming the student union movement. “The central government and BJP are in a very planned way promoting goondaism,” Singh added.
NSUI National Secretary Angelica Aribam termed ABVP a ‘blot in the name of student activism’. Shelha Rashid, JNUSU Vice President told ET that that while ABVP has been around for years what has changed now is the ‘institutional ‘ and Central backing for it.