Youth for Equality, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Poll-eve clash breaks out in JNU in the name of Ram

Source: The Telegraph, Nov 2, 2007

New Delhi, Nov. 1: Jawaharlal Nehru University is simmering with tension on the eve of student polls after a Dalit candidate’s remark on Ram triggered an attack by members of the BJP’s youth wing.

Two students from the anti-quota group, Youth for Equality, were injured as Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) members started throwing stones and chairs at presidential nominees during a pre-poll debate.

(Photo on left: Sujeet Kumar, Vice Presidential candidate YFE)

Three security personnel were also injured in the fracas that saw police enter the campus. No arrests have been made yet.

The injured were admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences last night but were released this morning.

The Youth for Equality has called for the dismissal from tomorrow’s polls candidates of the ABVP and the Bahujan Samaj Front, whose nominee made the alleged remark.

The JNU election commission consisting of nine students, has, however, decided to let the Bahujan front and the ABVP off with warnings.

The Bahujan front has also been asked to send a written apology to “all those whose religious sentiments may have been hurt” by the comment.

The CPM-backed Student’s Federation of India and the CPI(ML)-supported All India Student’s Association have called the incident a “stunt” orchestrated by the ABVP to shift the agenda to “communal politics”.

The presidential debate — a tradition in JNU where nominees for the post from various groups face questions from the university’s students — was peaceful, though characteristically noisy, till around 12.45 in the night.

As Raghuvansh Prasad Saket, the Bahujan front’s candidate, took the microphone to field questions, ABVP activists asked for his opinion on Ram.

The BSF, the student body of Mayavati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, had made some comments on Ram during campaigning as well. Promptly turning in the direction of the questions, Saket allegedly made the controversial remark.

The ABVP sympathisers started throwing chairs and stones at the dais where the candidates were sitting.

Babita Sharma, a Youth for Equality candidate, said she was struck by a brick and fell down unconscious.

Sujeet Kumar, the group’s vice-presidential candidate, was hit on an arm he had fractured a while ago.

“ABVP supporters deliberately asked provocative questions and the BSF candidate, Saket, was also irresponsible in his answer. The nominations of candidates from both groups should be cancelled,” Prakash Dash, the Youth for Equality’s JNU spokesperson, said.

The ABVP is planning to file a criminal case against Saket and other BSF members for making the inflammatory statements.

“We (ABVP) are asked questions on Godhra and the violence that followed. We reply taking care that we don’t hurt anyone’s sentiments. Our questions were legitimate,” Amit Singh, the ABVP’s presidential candidate, said.

Source: HT Nov 2, 2007


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