Soon after the mob violence at the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus on Sunday evening, allegations flew between the students of the university and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad activists over the perpetrators of the violence.
While many pointed fingers towards the ABVP, the organisation cried foul.
The injured were taken to the All India Institute of Medical Science in the city. Lokendra, a PhD student present at the hospital premises, said that the roots of the violence could be traced to events from two days ago.
“Members of the ABVP first tried to attack our protest against the fee hike on Saturday,” Lokendra told Newslaundry. “They tried again on Sunday morning near SSS area but couldn’t harm many at that point. At around 4 pm, when students were taking out a peace march, they pelted stones near the Periyar hostel.”
After attacking the peace march, Lokendra said, a large number of ABVP members from outside the campus came armed with rods, sticks and stones to attack students in different parts of the campus.
Following the violence, the action moved from JNU to the AIIMS Trauma Centre.
“Once the injured started arriving here one after the other, a large number of students and activists gathered simultaneously,” said a member of the hospital’s security team. “Then came the media. Political leaders and their supporters soon followed suit.”
The scene outside AIIMS last night.
The Delhi police was quick to reach the spot too. Dozens of personnel stood vigil outside the main entrance to the building. Many formed a human barricade to block the gate. The crowd, somewhat deterred, stood waiting outside while a few attempted to break through to meet the injured.
Speaking to Newslaundry, Dr Harjit Singh Bhatti, former president of the Resident Doctors’ Association at AIIMS who had rushed to the hospital, said that 15 people were brought to the Trauma Centre from JNU after sustaining injuries.
“Out of them, a professor and the president of the JNU Students’ Union had deep wounds on the head and were accordingly shifted to the red area,” Bhatti said. “Others had lacerations and swelling on different parts of the body while one was badly hit in the eye.”
According to Bhatti, it appeared that many of them had been attacked very bluntly with sharp objects. All the injured were stable and out of danger, he added.
Soori Krishnan, a masters’ student at the university, was one of the several injured on Sunday evening. He was dragged by one of the ABVP members from the peace march.
“When I tried to push my way out, five or six others surrounded me and started abusing [me] in Hindi,” Krishnan said. “They then hit me as a group with metal rods before I could manage to run away. I have two stitches on my head and severe bruises on both the arms.”
Soori Krishnan, a masters’ student at JNU.
ABVP leaders maintained that it was their activists who had been attacked by left-leaning students of JNU. “Eleven of our activists were beaten up by students affiliated to leftist organisations,” said Anurag Gautam, a member of ABVP’s Delhi unit. “They too were taken to the AIIMS Trauma Centre for treatment. We have been wrongly blamed [for the violence].”
Deepshikha, an ABVP activist, claimed she had been hit with a lathi near the Godavari hostel while trying to run away from a large group.
“Even on Sunday morning, when some of us students went to the administrative block for registration, they [protesters against the fee hike] stopped us,” she told Newslaundry. “A scuffle broke out in which Manish Jangid, an ABVP leader on campus, had his hand broken.”
Following the morning tussle, she added, around 400 people — including “many” from Jamia Millia Islamia University — came to JNU and “went on a rampage across the campus”.
The ABVP’s claims, however, are unconvincing. Sakshi, a JNU student, corroborated the versions given by Lokendra and Krishnan. “It was clearly an act by the ABVP,” she said. Tensions erupted from Saturday onward and things took an ugly turn on Sunday afternoon when the peace march was proceeding, she said.
Deepshikha, an ABVP activist.
“The march couldn’t even move 500 metres when ABVP goons started appearing with lathis, sticks and stones,” Sakshi said. “They began attacking people randomly. Soon, I had to come to the AIIMS Trauma Centre as one of my friends was very grievously injured.”
Bhatti was equally reluctant to believe the ABVP’s part of the argument. “Medically speaking, the injuries their activists allegedly sustained looked superficial. So, their claim seems questionable,” he said.
Bhatti also told Newslaundry: “Some alleged ABVP fellows with superficial injuries also got themselves admitted into the emergency and were making the other patients and doctors uncomfortable.”
The list of the names of ABVP members admitted in AIIMS, complaining of injuries.
Besides, Bhatti said that when they sent ambulances from AIIMS to the JNU campus to bring the other injured, about 100 goons attacked the vehicle and the medical team inside it.
“Two of our doctors and a few medical volunteers were manhandled by the mob. The doors and windows of the ambulance were shattered too. They threatened the medical team to leave the spot immediately,” he said.
Questions were also raised about the role of the Delhi police in yesterday’s violence. Lokendra said that when the peace march was attacked, the police personnel present behaved more like observers rather than trying to stop the chaos.
Bhatti claimed the police were disinclined to file a complaint when his colleagues approached them.
“When the ambulance was chased away by the goons from JNU, the medical team went to the Vasant Kunj Police Station to lodge a complaint,” he said. “The police however refused to make an entry, saying that too many complaints had come from the university on the same evening. It was only after my colleagues pressured them [that] the police just took a complaint letter from them but did not file any FIR.”