At least 28 stu­dents and teach­ers were in­jured, while doc­tors and nurses were also at­tacked

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

New Delhi, In­dia - Protests were held across In­dia on Mon­day af­ter masked as­sailants wield­ing ba­tons and iron rods went on a ram­page at a top Delhi univer­sity, leav­ing more than two dozen in­jured.

Con­tro­versy over Sun­day’s vi­o­lence at Jawa­har­lal Nehru Univer­sity (JNU) comes as a new chal­lenge to the gov­ern­ment as it con­fronts ma­jor na­tion­wide protests against a new cit­i­zen­ship bill that crit­ics say is an­tiMus­lim.

Un­ver­i­fied videos on so­cial me­dia ap­peared to show a group of sev­eral masked at­tack­ers roam­ing the JNU cam­pus wield­ing ba­tons as stu­dents screamed.

“Today evening, two groups clashed with each other and some stu­dents are in­jured,” a Delhi po­lice of­fi­cer said late on Sun­day.

“The univer­sity ad­min­is­tra­tion has re­quested the po­lice to en­ter (the cam­pus),” the of­fi­cer said.

Some stu­dents blamed the univer­sity at­tack on rightwing ac­tivists, but they also ac­cused po­lice of do­ing noth­ing to stop the vi­o­lence.

At least 28 stu­dents and teach­ers were in­jured, while doc­tors and nurses from a nearby hos­pi­tal who went to treat them were also at­tacked, their union said.

Scores of riot po­lice on Mon­day pa­trolled the univer­sity - the alma mater of sev­eral key min­is­ters in Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s Cab­i­net - pick­ing their way past shat­tered glass and bro­ken doors and fur­ni­ture.

They made no im­me­di­ate ar­rests, but blamed the vi­o­lence on ‘ri­val stu­dent groups’.

As con­dem­na­tion of the at­tacks spread, more than 1,000 peo­ple held a vigil in Mum­bai. Other demon­stra­tions were held in Bengaluru, Kolkata and other ma­jor cities.

No­bel econ­omy prize win­ner Ab­hi­jeet Banerjee, a for­mer JNU stu­dent, said the at­tacks had ‘echoes of the years when Ger­many was mov­ing to­wards Nazi rule’.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) de­nied claims by the op­po­si­tion Congress party that it was re­spon­si­ble, and in turn blamed left-lean­ing stu­dent groups which dom­i­nate the univer­sity’s pol­i­tics.

The gov­ern­ment has promised an in­ves­ti­ga­tion, while Home Min­is­ter Amit Shah - a close Modi aide - told univer­sity ad­min­is­tra­tors and po­lice to main­tain or­der at the cam­pus, which has been tense since protests in Novem­ber over fee in­creases.

The Delhi po­lice last fought street bat­tles with JNU stu­dents in Novem­ber af­ter protests broke out over fee in­creases at the top univer­sity.

JNU stu­dent or­gan­i­sa­tions dom­i­nated by left­ists have since staged demon­stra­tions de­mand­ing a roll­back of the fee in­crease while fac­ing ac­cu­sa­tions of ob­struct­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials.

Many linked the Sun­day clash to sim­mer­ing ten­sions since the fee hike, while oth­ers crit­i­cised po­lice and the univer­sity ad­min­is­tra­tion for fail­ing to pro­tect stu­dents from masked at­tack­ers on cam­pus.

The un­rest comes as na­tion­wide protests con­tinue against a cit­i­zen­ship law passed in De­cem­ber that bars Mus­lims from a mea­sure grant­ing na­tion­al­ity to mi­nori­ties from three neigh­bour­ing Is­lamic-ma­jor­ity coun­tries.

Hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple have taken to the streets across the coun­try, and more than 25 peo­ple have been killed.

Crit­ics say the leg­is­la­tion goes against In­dia’s sec­u­lar con­sti­tu­tion, but Modi says the new law is in­tended to help ‘per­se­cuted’ mi­nori­ties.

The street protests have fur­ther di­vided a coun­try that gave Modi a land­slide re­turn to power in May last year.

Modi’s op­po­nents blame his poli­cies for the coun­try’s slug­gish econ­omy and so­cial un­ease.

In­dia's lead­ing trade unions on Mon­day called for a gen­eral strike on Jan­uary 8 to protest against the gov­ern­ment’s ‘an­tipeo­ple’ poli­cies. More than 60 stu­dent unions have sup­ported the one-day strike.

Scores of riot po­lice pa­trolled the univer­sity pick­ing their way past shat­tered glass and bro­ken doors and fur­ni­ture

(AFP)

Stu­dents, me­dia rep­re­sen­ta­tives and po­lice force stand out­side the Jawa­har­lal Nehru Univer­sity gate in New Delhi on Mon­day

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