JNU violence: Why did ABVP, Left students clash?
Violence rocked the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi on Sunday evening as groups of students clashed on campus. The JNU Students' Union (JNUSU)—led by the left-aligned All India Students Association (AISA)—said members of the right-wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) started the ruckus over the JNU mess serving non-vegetarian food. However, the ABVP said left-wing students were disrupting a Ram Navami puja.
Why does this story matter?
The violence at JNU comes at a time of immense communal tensions across India. In recent weeks, India has seen enormous religious polarization, from protests over a hijab ban in Karnataka to violence at Ram Navami processions. The incident also occurred during the Hindu festival of Ram Navami—which marks the end of Chaitra Navratri—and the Islamic holy month of Ramzan.
What happened in JNU yesterday?
Reportedly, violence erupted at the Kaveri hostel in JNU on Sunday evening at around 7:30 pm. Visuals from the scene showed students clashing violently and some pelting stones at others. The police said on Sunday night that six students were injured. The ABVP—the student outfit of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)—said 15-20 students were injured, while left-wing activists said 50-60 were injured.
Visuals of student bleeding go viral
Photos and videos of the violence also went viral online. One student was seen with a bloodied forehead. Reports identified her as Akhtarista Ansari, an MA Sociology student. Ansari was rushed to the trauma center at AIIMS, New Delhi.
What led to the clash at JNU?
Students say tensions had been simmering on campus hours before the violence broke out. According to the JNUSU, the ABVP obstructed the meal manager at the Kaveri hostel mess from cooking non-vegetarian food (chicken). The vendor who delivered the chicken was verbally abused, threatened, and manhandled, according to a letter to the JNU administration by the student-run Kaveri hostel mess committee.
JNU administration admits issue over food
Notably, before the violence, Dean of Students Sudheer Pratap Singh told The Indian Express at 7 pm, "I got a call and spoke to the warden and we had said let what has come be cooked, we have no issues. The issue has been resolved."
ABVP refutes charge; blames Left for violence
However, the ABVP said that there was no issue over non-vegetarian food being cooked. Left-wing students were obstructing a Ram Navami puja at Kaveri hostel which was delayed from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm, it said. JNU is a "microcosm of Bharat where different identities coexist peacefully" but leftists "do not digest this fact" and they "plan to break the country," it added.
JNU students protest after violence
After the violence, both left-wing and right-wing students staged protests. Around 100 students gathered at the Vasant Kunj Police Station and reportedly demanded to meet the Deputy Commissioner of Police. The Kaveri hostel administration and the police are separately investigating the matter.
FIR names unidentified ABVP students
The police registered an FIR against unknown ABVP students based on a complaint by members of the JNUSU, SFI, DSF, and AISA on Monday morning, NDTV reported. The FIR has been registered under Sections 323, 341, 509, 506, and 34 of the Indian Penal Code. The ABVP is expected to file a separate complaint later on Monday, the report added.
Violence at JNU in January 2020
Sunday's violence is reminiscent of the brutal clash at JNU on January 5, 2020. Roughly 100 masked goons had entered the campus and assaulted students, teachers, and other staff with rods and sticks. At least 36 were injured. Both left-wing and right-wing students had blamed each other for the violence. An FIR was registered in the high-profile case, however, no arrests were made.