The Colour of Violence is Saffron

Arup Kumar Sen

On January 5, 2020 (Sunday), masked men wielding sticks, rods and sledgehammers terrorized the JNU campus for close to three hours by entering hostels and attacking students and teachers. The masked men targeted students in three hostels. They left after hitting inmates and breaking windows, furniture and personal belongings. A women’s hostel was also attacked.

There was a pattern in the violence. To put it in the words of The Telegraph (January 7, 2020): “Accounts from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus…suggested a systematic attempt on Sunday night at targeting or sparing students after marking out their rooms on the basis of ideological belief and religion, recalling a Nazi-era policy of segregation and persecution”.

Who led the attacks and what was the role of the police? As reported in The Indian Express (January 6, 2020):
Eyewitnesses and many of those injured said the men, who as per some estimates numbered around 100, were mostly outsiders and belonged to the ABVP- a charge the RSS student outfit denied. Eyewitnesses also accused police of failing to stop the mob from entering the campus or ending the violence sooner, despite calls from JNU as well as frantic students and teachers.

Outside the campus gates, a large mob had gathered on the day and refused to allow any student to step out of the campus or anyone to get in. They did not allow ambulances to reach the campus by puncturing tyres and smashing windows. The mob chanted: “Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maro salon ko” (Shoot the anti-national traitors). The masked men reportedly did such things next to a police barricade and in front of a police detention van. They threatened journalists and manhandled Yogendra Yadav, National President of Swaraj India.  Hari Ram Mishra, a pro-RSS Sanskrit professor of the JNU, was allegedly found in the mob. (See ibid and The Telegraph, January 6, 2020)
More than 30 people were injured in the attacks, including the president of the Students’ Union (JNUSU), Aishe Ghosh, and professors Sucharita Sen and Ameet Parameswaran. Aishe Ghosh had 16 stitches on her head after being beaten with iron rods.

Aishe Ghosh, who was brutally attacked by the masked men in the JNU campus on January 5, 2020, has been named in the two FIRs filed in connection with two incidents of alleged vandalism in the campus on January 1 and 4. The police “filed both FIRs on Sunday night, when the violence on campus, perpetrated by around 100 masked men, was at its peak”. (The Indian Express, January 8, 2020)

It should be mentioned in this connection that the JNUSU has been protesting against the steep hostel fee hike in the University. In the wake of the brutal violence on December 5, the Federation of Central Universities Teachers’ Associations (FEDCUTA) unequivocally condemned the violence “unleashed on the students and teachers of JNU by armed goons” and blamed the Vice-Chancellor of the University, M. Jagadesh Kumar, for it.

There is no doubt in our mind that the colour of violence unleashed on the students and teachers of JNU and in the campuses of Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia is Saffron.

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Jan 14, 2020

Arup Sen

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