The People’s Union for Democratic Rights has condemned the incident of vandalism by Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad goons (ABVP, student wing of the RSS) in Delhi University, in which members of the press community were also made victims.
The University Community, an independent group of students and teachers of Delhi University, organised a meeting on “Communalism, Fascism and Democracy: Rhetoric and Reality” on 6th November 2008 at Room No. 22 Arts Faculty. It did not come as a surprise that right-wing forces would be opposed to any meaningful discussion on these issues.
As the Chair of the meeting, SAR Geelani (lecturer at Zakir Husain College, University of Delhi), came inside the room and took his seat, one of the ABVP members came and spat on his face twice. It was then that we realised that this was a planned attempt to disrupt the public meeting – ABVP goondas were sitting inside the room and they rose to hurl abuses at the participants and physically attack them. DUSU President Nupur Sharma (of ABVP) entered the room and declared that SAR Geelani, a lecturer of this University, could not speak in the University! This, when we had taken due permission from the University authorities to conduct the meeting.
The ABVP goons attacked the women students and participants, broke the microphone and hurled chairs. They also manhandled media persons who were covering the meeting. Two journalists from Tehelka and Mail Today, who were speakers at the meeting, were threatened by ABVP. The mother of one of the media persons who was present had to leave the venue because she was terrorised by the goons. At this point, the Pro-Vice Chancellor and the Proctor called one of the organisers and told him that the meeting could not go on because it was creating a ‘law and order’ problem. Who did the University administration side with? ABVP.
It was the courage and fortitude of the audience who insisted on continuing the meeting. The ABVP goons were pushed out of the room and the meeting continued behind closed doors. ABVP did not stop there. In the presence of a large contingent of Delhi Police, and we dare say with their permission, they threw stones at the room, broke all the window panes, tried to break the doors and continued abusing – Goli maaro saalon ko, Pakistan Murdabad, Vande Mataram – were some of the better ones. SAR Geelani, in particular was targeted. However, they could not scare us and stop the meeting from concluding successfully.
The University Community, the organisor of the meeting alleged that this was not the first effort of ABVP to snatch all the democratic space available to it in the University. Last year, the faculty members and students of the History Department were targeted only because of a text in their syllabus. The same goons who once attacked our right to study history texts today attacked our right to hold meetings and discussions.
During a meeting on communalism and fascism, it witnessed the threat and danger posed by these communal and fascist forces to the secular and democratic fabric of our country. The parent organisation of ABVP, and the politics espoused by them, is responsible for the widespread attack on minorities across the country. It is they who were responsible for the genocide in Gujarat and for spreading the politics of hate and fear. If we remain silent today, we will lose whatever little space that is left to us in the University. Do we need to take permission from ABVP to hold a meeting in the University? Who does the University administration and Delhi Police support in the fight against fascism?
It has called upon the entire University community to protest against this assault on academic freedom and democratic rights. In protest of today’s events, the University community has organised a protest march on November 07 at the University, at 11:00 a.m. at Vivekananda statue, Arts Faculty.
It has also demamded:
1. The University administration should lodge a FIR against ABVP members, especially persons like Nupur Sharma, Vikas Dahiya, Desh Ratan, Sonu Singh and Ashutosh.
2. Time-bound enquiry into this act of vandalism and goondaism and action against the people found guilty.
3. To give us assurance that future public meetings on similar issues will not be disrupted by these goons.