TWO places separated by over 2000 kms became sites for resistance to the RSS attacks on democracy and secularism last week. The first was Delhi University in the national capital and the second was Mangaluru city in Karnataka.
In Delhi University, students belonging to the ABVP (the student wing of the RSS) attacked a seminar being held at Ramjas College on the pretext that anti-national persons were invited to speak at the seminar. Even though, the JNU research student concerned, Umar Khalid, did not attend, the ABVP students disrupted the seminar and beat up some students and teachers.
In protest against this goondaism a students march was organised on February 22 which was attacked by the ABVP goons. Among those beaten up were teachers and professors who were present there to express solidarity with the students. One of the professors had to be hospitalised. Throughout this hooliganism of the ABVP, the Delhi Police which was present in sizeable numbers stood by and refused to intervene. Later, when the students assembled before the local police station to demand action against the thugs, the police beat up the protesters.
The Ramjas incident and the attack on students and teachers of Delhi University is part of the pattern of aggressive efforts by the ABVP in various university campuses to intimidate and browbeat those who are opposed to the imposition of the Hindutva ideology and their brand of Hindu nationalism.
The ABVP goondaism and the connivance of the Delhi Police with them has evoked widespread anger and condemnation. A 20 year old girl student, Gurmehar Kaur, studying in an off-campus college has come to symbolize the widespread anger and refusal to bow down to the violent intimidation of the ABVP and the RSS.
Gurmehar Kaur changed her Facebook profile picture with a photo of her holding a placard proclaiming “I am a student from Delhi University. I am not afraid of ABVP. I am not alone. Every student of India is with me”. Gurmehar Kaur’s post met with a wide response among the students and youth all over the country. It also led to her receiving hate mail and being trolled. She was threatened with rape. Gurmehar is the daughter of an army captain who was killed during the Kargil operations.
The Sangh Parivar supposedly reveres “martyrs” of the Indian Army. But Gurmehar became the target of a hate campaign as she had earlier talked of not hating Pakistan and Muslims and espousing the cause of peace between India and Pakistan. Even ministers like Kiren Rijiju and Venkaiah Naidu joined the campaign in Twitter against her.
The vicious attack on Gurmehar has exposed the real nature of the nationalism which the Sangh Parivar espouses. Gurmehar came forth as a courageous young woman who is prepared to stand up to the communal hate and jingoism of the RSS and its outfits like the ABVP.
The ABVP leaders who also control the university student union issued threats that they would not allow Communists and anti-nationals to enter the campus. But the ordinary students backed by the Left, democratic students organisations have resolved to continue their protests against the ABVP goondaism and to assert their right of freedom of expression. A big protest march involving thousands of students took place on February 28. This will be followed by a demonstration of students, teachers and other democratic forces in the city.
The other event which took place on February 25 was the rally for communal harmony held in Mangaluru. Kerala chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, was to inaugurate the rally. The RSS and the various Hindu extremist outfits announced that they would stop Vijayan from addressing the rally and not allow the meeting to take place. They called for a hartal on the day of the rally and proceeded to issue various threats; a Party office in Ullal was attacked and furniture set on fire.
Despite all these threats and efforts to prevent the rally, the meeting took place and it was inaugurated by Pinarayi Vijayan. The big turn out at the rally, defying the threat of the RSS goons and the fighting speech made by Pinarayi Vijayan exposing the true character of the RSS, has drawn national attention.
The message from Delhi University and Mangaluru was the same: We are going to meet the threat from the RSS unitedly and resolutely.
(March 1, 2017)