ABVP in Delhi University
ABVP in Delhi UniversityReuters

The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) on Saturday issued a notice to the Delhi Police seeking explanation over the lathi-charge against students protesting against the decision of the Ramjas College authorities to cancel a seminar– where JNU students Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid were slated to speak– following violent protests by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).

DCW Chairperson Swati Maliwal told ANI: "Policemen attacking female protesters in DU may amount to molestation; severe punishment needed." 

Maliwal also tweeted expressing shock over the police action. "Was part of several protests. Been lathi charged but never touched by police. Cops turning into goons now. Molesting protesters openly (sic). Revolting that cops pinch n punched girls. Shame that protectors turned violators. Need a high level independent enquiry into the incident," Maliwal wrote on Twitter.

TISS comes out in support of Ramjas College and DU students:

The students' union of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) has expressed solidarity with the students of Ramjas College and Delhi University after the shameful incident. Meanwhile, the Mumbai unit of the ABVP came out in support of its Delhi counterpart.

"If any anti-national announcements are made in any educational institute, the ABVP will protest," Rohit Chandode, Mumbai secretary of ABVP, was quoted by the Indian Express as saying. However, the students' union of TISS has accused the ABVP of resorting to violence and hooliganism to suppress all kinds of discussion on issues of the marginalised community and preserve the "Brahmanical, patriarchal space" in universities.

"The TISS Students' Union condemns the ABVP's repeated attempts across the country to suppress democratic spaces and voices, and stands in solidarity with students of Delhi University," a statement released by the students' union read.

"Universities are supposed to provide space for nurturing critical thinking, academic and political deliberations among differing ideologies. It is this open space which the Sangh parivar and its various frontal organisations fear. In one university after the other, it has become clear that the agenda is to crush all resistance from anyone who does not believe in and comply with the idea of a Hindutva nation and this continues with the connivance of various arms of the government," the statement added.

ABVP activists and SFI members clash in Pune:

Meanwhile, the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) campus in Pune witnessed clashes between ABVP activists and the Students' Federation of India (SFI) on Friday evening. The ABVP activists burnt an effigy of Khalid on Friday morning and condemned SFI for inviting the JNU student, who is facing sedition charges, to speak at Ramjas College. The SFI, in retaliation, put up posters to condemn ABVP in the evening.

SFI district secretary Vilas Pable was quoted by the Indian Express as saying, "A group of about 25 people belonging to the ABVP and BJYM, BJP's youth wing, attacked SFI activists who were putting up posters near Aniket canteen around 7.45 pm. The SFI activists were only protesting against the ABVP by putting up posters. But the ABVP activists instigated violence... five SFI activists were injured in the attack."

However, Pradeep Gavade, secretary of ABVP's Pune unit, claimed that the SFI attacked them first. He said, "Umar Khalid is among those who had organised the programme in JNU in which terrorists such as Afzal Guru were glorified. So, our activists burnt his effigy and condemned the Left-wing students who invited him to Ramjas college. Because of this, the SFI got upset. They also tore down ABVP posters. When two ABVP activists questioned them, the SFI members attacked them."

The Pune Police has received complaints from both parties.

What happened in Ramjas College:

The English department and Literary Society of the Ramjas College had organised a two-day seminar on 'Cultures of Protest: A Seminar Exploring Representations of Dissent' on February 21, and JNU students Khalid and Shehla Rashid were invited as guest speakers. The invitation irked ABVP as they resorted to violent protests against holding the seminar and reportedly locked down the seminar room in the college campus.

The college authorities cancelled the seminar following the protests. The move angered a section of students and teachers of the college, who along with a few JNU students and the All India Students' Association (AISA), decided to march till the Maurice Nagar Police Station demanding action against the ABVP-led "vandalism".