New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaFeb 28, 2017, 05.08 AM (IST)
More than 1,000 Indian university students and faculty members took to the streets in New Delhi on Tuesday (February 28) to protest against campus violence allegedly perpetrated by right-wing student organisation Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.
The rally was also held in support of a besieged undergraduate student, who had recently posted a social media message condemning the violence in a Delhi University college.
Protesters raised slogans against the student organisation and also carried placards reading: "My nationalism is beyond your claustrophobic nationalism."
Gurmehar Kaur, a student of Lady Shri Ram college in New Delhi, was assailed and even threatened with rape on social media for voicing her protest against ABVP.
Though Kaur has decided to pull out from the protests against the nationalist student group, she tweeted support of the movement: "2000 people in solidarity (sic)! All my friends. Our lovely faculty! how I wish I was there. Grinning."
The rallies against ABVP, which is the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's student organisation, has acquired a terse political tone, with several politicians attending the event in Delhi University's North Campus area.
Senior leaders of Communist Party of India (Marxist) -- general secretary Sitaram Yechury and D Raja -- attended the rallies to put pressure on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP.
Other 'secular' party leaders -- Congress' Rahul Gandhi and Aam Aadmi party convener Arvind Kejriwal -- also came out in support of the student demonstration, which has sharpened the debate around the country's freedom of expression.
The parties, which are perceived to be secular in India, have voiced their concern about a growing clampdown on free speech since Modi came to power in 2012.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury ripped into Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, or ABVP, for violently disrupting a literary event at Ramjas College last week.
"They (ABVP) cannot win this with their intellectual skill and want to replace it with violence," said Yechury, who is attending the DU march in the university's North Campus area.
He also took a jibe at ABVP's definition of nationalism, saying: "Our nationalism is 'we are Indian' not 'who is a Hindu."
The faculty and students of DU have started a march to promote peace in campuses after the developments over the last week. The protestors were heard calling out, "ABVP go back." (WION)
Another CPI(M) leader attending the event was D Raja, who said: "This is a collective fight to defend our constitutional rights. We will be raising the issue in the Parliament."
JNU leader Kanhaiya Kumar -- who had become the standard bearer for secularism in the country following the sedition case slapped against him last year -- also took part
ABVP had resorted to physically assaulting students and teachers of Ramjas College after learning about JNU students Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid, whom they regard as "anti-national", attending a literary event.
On Tuesday, students and teachers from DU and JNU launched a protest march from Khalsa College to Arts Faculty in Delhi University amid heavy police security.
Earlier this morning, eight students were detained after a scuffle between ABVP and AISA members at Delhi University, media reports said.
Delhi Police deployed a huge contingent of nearly 900 policemen to ensure security in the campus.
Elsewhere in the campus, National Students Union of India(NSUI) students started their hunger strike outside the Arts Faculty at Delhi University with policemen keeping a tight vigil.
Yesterday (February 27), ABVP students had taken out a 'tiranga ' march at the campus.
Delhi University has been at the centre of clashes between ABVP and AISA students after Ramjas College extended an invite to JNU student Umar Khalid to speak at an event which was later withdrawn. Delhi Police had imposed sedition charges against Umar Khalid last year.