DU Elections Herald the Winds of Change

For students of Delhi University, it is common sight to see the winning candidates in any year’s student elections being fielded by the ABVP, the RSS-affiliated right wing student organisation that has till now commanded the majority support. But not anymore. If the recently concluded DUSU elections send a message, it is that ABVP is not the most popular party anymore. The stunning defeat of the ABVP, only to give over its stronghold to the Congress backed NSUI shows that BJP is losing its hold over campuses.

It is true that the ABVP was not totally decimated in the elections. NSUI won only the President and Vice-Presidential positions, while the other two of General Secretary and Joint Secretary were retained by ABVP. It is also true that statistically, the best performer in the election was still the ABVP candidate for secretary, Mahamedhaa Nagar who defeated her NSUI rival by 2624 votes to win the post of secretary. Her win was still the biggest margin. However, what counts more is that NSUI has made a comeback and a stunning one at that. For the last five years, ABVP has dominated the student politics scene in Delhi, leaving no leeway for other parties to set foot. Since 2012, NSUI has never held an important position in DUSU and while this may be a half-triumph, it is still a triumph.

ABVP’s shocking loss should sound the alarm bells for the BJP and the Modi-brigade which has thus far captured the imagination of the youth across campuses. Students across the world do not like being dictated to and Indian students are no different. With the Modi brigade dictating terms on cow vigilantism, coupled with the lack of tolerance and the alarming rise of Hindutva across the country, it should be of no surprise that the students have swung to the age old challenger of the BJP, the Congress and chosen to put their faith in them. This is certainly a reaction to the brand of hyper nationalism propagated by the centre, which has backfired against them. Moreover, the ABVP has been on a rampage of violence and disruption, with the Rohith Vemula suicide last year, the upheaval in JNU and the Ramjas incident early this year. On every one of these occasions, the ABVP was the muscular aggressor and on the receiving end of much criticism from left-wing liberals.

And NSUI’s win in DU is not a one-off incident. This is simply a follow up of the impressive performances by the outfit in the recent polls in Guwahati, Rajasthan and Punjab Universities. This is the concert result of the educated and urban youth taking up arms against the divisive and polarising politics wielded by the ABVP in every election it participates in. This is a wake-up call to Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. Ironically, the latter had termed ABVP’s victory in DUSU polls last year as the triumph of nationalism. The DUSU election is definitely a reflection of the current mood among the youngsters, who are witnessing a polarising of the country under the current government.

However, it is not all hunky-dory for the NSUI. This year’s election also saw a huge jump in NOTA votes, from less than 10% last year to 16.5% this year. This can only portray a certain disillusionment with the student wings of mainstream political parties and should be a cause of worry for both the Congress and the BJP. It is also to be noted that more students availed of the NOTA option in the DUSU elections than the JNSUSU elections. Nonetheless, the DUDU results should be doing much to boost the sagging morale of the Congress, which sadly, does not remain a key player at the centre politics any longer.

Sources: The Quint, Hindustan Times

No Reason for Fear, the Left is Still There

Left wing student associations, just a few days ago, led their parties to a thumping win in the recently concluded Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) elections, raising spirits of left-leaning student campuses everywhere. The united-Left alliance – which is a coalition of AISA, SFI and DSF – retained all four seats in the JNU students union election, defeating the RSS-backed ABVP by a considerable margin. The main players in this election were the United Left alliance, RSS-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), and the Birsa-Ambedkar-Phule Students’ Association (BAPSA).

United Left candidate Geeta Kumari won the president’s post by defeating Nidhi Tripathi of ABVP by 464 votes. AISA’s Simone Zoya Khan, who was contesting for the vice-presidents post, got 1,876 votes out of total 4,620 votes, defeating Durgesh Kumar of ABVP (1028 votes). The other important posts of General Secretary and Joint Secretary also went to Left candidates, who all beat their respective right-wing candidates by considerable margins. Last year, the Left alliance was between AISA and SFI, which was fortified this year by extending the alliance to bring DSF on board. While JNU has always been a Left bastion, there were concerns this year regarding the Left’s win because of the rise of identity based politics, represented by BAPSA. The fear was that the rise of BAPSA would take away votes from the left, leading to an ABVP win.

Not surprisingly, BAPSA candidates finished second in all the posts. More importantly, this year marked BAPSA’s entry into the school of sciences which till date has been an ABVP stronghold. The party’s thundering performance in the elections shows how the wave is moving towards identity-based politics, while also changing the political discourse from the choice between a left and a right to a voice between left, right and BAPSA. Both ABVP and the left-wing should be concerned with the meteoric rise of this party, which certainly shows a growing base within the university.

Soon after the stunning victory for the Left, the relieved student organisation brought out a press release claiming that the JNUSU results would have an effect on the upcoming DUSU elections. “The mandate of the JNUSU elections is a strong message for the power-protected gang of hooligans that the minds and souls of students can’t be captured by the threat of violence. The students of DU will give a strong mandate for a university without violence, academics without fear and country without hate,” stated the release.

Geeta Kumari, now elected JNUSU president, said that she and her administration would be taking up the Najeeb Jung issue, as well as the reigning issues of JNU seat cuts and new hostels. This begs the realisation that this year’s student elections was fought on issues that have been plaguing the JNU community for a while now. Left unity against the ABVP politics’ has been a main slogan in the campus since the February 9, 2016 events that put JNU in the spotlight for many reasons.

Sources: Firstpost, NDTV

Congress backed NSUI to move Delhi High Court over tampering in DUSU elections

The Congress-backed National Students Union of India has claimed they have won three instead of two of the top four posts in the Delhi University Student Union elections. NSUI decided to move the Delhi High Court to prove this.

They alleged the personal involvement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah tampered the results of the elections.

According to India Today, Girish Chodankar, the AICC secretary in charge of NSUI told IANS, NSUI won three out four seats in the elections which included that of the President, Vice-President and the Joint Secretary. But the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the BJP student wing, subsequently got the Joint Secretary post.

“We have asked the election committee to recount votes, if they do not do it by the end of the day, we will approach the Delhi High Court to contest the result. This is a matter of shame for the BJP that they have to manipulate results to ensure that ABVP wins,” IANS quoted Chodankar as saying.

According to Scroll.in, the party’s National Media In-Charge Neeraj Mishra told IANS, many CCTVs were dysfunctional and complained about the presence of ABVP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh officials in the counting center.

However, Chief Election Officer S.B Babbar assured that there were no loopholes in the elections since Delhi University is the only one using Electronic Voting Machine (EVMs).

Elections took place on Tuesday and the counting happened early on Wednesday. The turnout recorded was 43%, a near 10% increase since 2016.

 

Sources: India Today, Scroll.in 

Image Source: HT

From right to express to cyber bullying

An account of the controversy surrounding DU student, Gurmehar Kaur and ace cricketer, Virender Sehwag

Media is flooded with the news of the clashes in Ramjas College, Delhi University between the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) activists and students over the ‘Save DU campaign’. The campaign has been started in support of student’s right to freedom of speech. Jawaharlal Nehru University students Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid were invited to the North Campus for a seminar. Even though Khalid and Rashid did not turn up for the event, ABVP students launched into violent protests and vandalism. Condemning the violence that erupted on the campus and saw many of her friends injured, 20 year old Gurmehar Kaur shared a protest image on Facebook that read “I am a student from Delhi University. I am not afraid of ABVP. I am not alone. Every student of India is with me. #StudentsAgainstABVP”.

Gurmehar Kaur is a student of English Literature at Lady Sri Ram College for Women, Delhi University who came into the eye of the storm when her Facebook post turned viral and one of her past video messages as a peace activists asking for friendly relations with Pakistan surfaced online. As the daughter of Kargil War martyr, Mandeep Singh, she received flak from ruling establishment and politicians for her ‘anti-nationalist’ post. The year-old post is a part of Profile for Peace campaign created by activist and ad filmmaker Ram Subramanian.

The seemingly optimistic post turned on its head when Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju said “who’s polluting this young girl’s mind?” and “Kargil war must not be exploited”. BJP MP Pratap Simha went a step ahead and posted a picture collage comparing Kaur to fugitive underworld don, Dawood Ibrahim.

With the matter gaining political winds, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi praised Kaur for standing up for her thoughts and intolerance. Congress spokesperson, Manish Tewari lashed out at Rijiju for intimidating and trolling Kaur, saying this is the worst form of bullying. Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu, however questioned the opposition for fuelling student unrest and violence. He further stated that freedom of speech does not mean the right to offend.

As cyber bullying in the forms of trolls and memes started making rounds on Kaur, cricketer Virender Sehwag made the least appetising statement by holding a placard, similar to Kaur’s older video saying ‘I didn’t score two triple centuries, my bat did’. Actor Randeep Hooda who liked this picture was equally drawn into the controversy with netizens taking sides. Soon, Bollywood celebrities joined the debate with Javed Akhtar expressing his displeasure at Sehwag’s tasteless meme. Mahavir Phogat, the Indian amateur wrestler and senior Olympics coach hit back at Akhtar for his ‘uneducated’ jibe at Sehwag. Actress Vidya Balan came out in support of Kaur. It was later that Sehwag clarified that he had tweeted in plain humour and did expect it to escalate into a crisis. He also took a backseat by saying that everyone has a right to expression.

While celebrities and cricketers were busy echoing their thoughts on the issue, Kaur distressed by the hate mails, spams and rape/ death threats withdrew from the social media sphere by deleting her Facebook account and moved home to Jalandar. She had previously planned to be a part of the protest march on February 22 to mark against the vandalism and atrocities caused by ABVP students. However, she cancelled taking part in the protest and left for home. It has been reported that a female constable has been posted outside her home.

It is sad to notice that a bright student who chose to voice her anger and frustration at the growing level of intolerance in educational campuses across the country has been snubbed at largely by the political establishment and the youth icons of the society. Without getting into the political nitty-gritty, it is time we realize cyber bullying or trolling is the worst form of intimidation. The anonymity offered by social media to its netizens becomes a big tool in the hands of such social perpetrators.

 

SOURCES-

  1. INDIAN EXPRESS- http://indianexpress.com/article/india/who-is-gulmehar-kaur-whats-the-ongoing-savedu-campaign-all-about-all-your-questions-answered-4547653/

2. LIVEMINT-http://www.livemint.com/Consumer/skhFXvQCvpMEADgdf95M4K/Who-is-the-brain-behind-Gurmehar-Kaurs-IndiaPakistan-viral.html

IMAGE SOURCE- INDIAN EXPRESS

Policemen facing PIL after assaulting students in Ramjas Violence

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed against the policemen who were involved in assaulting the students and journalists at Ramjas College. This action was taken by the Delhi high court after two students from the Delhi University Law department approached them on March 1.

The policemen during a protest at Ramjas allegedly assaulted the students part of it. The two students who took the issue to high court are Tarun Narang and Deepak Joshi. Both of them are Law students in Delhi University only.

In the PIL, they have asked for an independent committee to examine what led to the huge protests at the University last week. The committee will include senior Delhi Police officials.

Another demand is that there should be cases against the Police officers involved under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code. It is most likely that the hearing will be this week.

All this Violence began in Delhi University last week when the All India Students Association (AISA) and the ABVP went into a scuffle after Ramjas College called the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Umar Khalid for a talk.

SOURCES-

  1. PTI- http://www.aninews.in/newsdetail-Mg/MzAyMDIz/ramjas-row-pil-filed-against-policemen-who-assaulted-students.html

2. INDIAN EXPRESS- http://indianexpress.com/article/india/ramjas-violence-pil-against-policemen-for-alleged-assault-on-students-4549141/

IMAGE SOURCE- PTI

 

A Bitter Battle to the End

On February 21, Ramjas College in Delhi had invited Umar Khalid, one of the accused in the 2016 JNU uproar, to come and speak at a seminar hosted by the college. The seminar was titled Cultures of Protest: A Seminar Exploring Representations of Dissent, where Khalid was to speak on Adivasi protests, which he is writing his Ph.D thesis on.

Even though the college had given the permission for the event to be held, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidya Parishad shut the talk down because it would involve Umar Khalid, who they see as an anti-nationalist. They gathered at the college and demanded that the event be cancelled, barring which they threatened violence. The college authorities tried to reason with them, but to no avail. They were then forced to retract their invitation to Umar Khalid, who turned back, fearing for the safety of everyone involved. The event continued with other speakers.

But the ABVP surrounded the college canteen and classrooms, and held the students prisoner in their own campus, throwing bricks and stones at them and sloganeering outside the room where the event was continuing. After prolonged violence, the Maurice Nagar police station intervened and had the event called off.

As Ramjas College students held a peaceful protest in support of the constitutional right to freedom of expression and against this hooliganism, ABVP party members vandalised the premises and beat up student and professors alike. Many were injured in this show of violence. Students feel that even though the police intervened, they could have done more to stop the violence by the goons.

Since then, North Campus and Delhi have been burning as students protest their right to freedom of expression and their right to be able to hold a peaceful debate and discuss issues in an academic forum. The ABVP has responded by unleashing violence against the peaceful groups of students and professors, landing many of them in hospital and making the others fearful of their lives.

Disappointingly, the police have been a mere bystander, even in the face of ABVP threatening and physically assaulting people. They have reportedly refused to file the multiple FIR requests coming in against the right wing Sanghi group. In fact, it has been manhandling the protesters themselves, both men and women, as well as the media.

There are eye-witness accounts of all these horrifying events. There are videos of police hitting girls who were part of protests. A journalist from a well-known agency was attacked by ABVP goons. Many students have been dragged out of their flats and PGs and beaten just because someone has recognised their face from a protest. Students have been issued rape threats.

India seems to have become a country that does not allow for debate and discussion, as well as denying people the right to protest against the denial and snatching of their rights. While Delhi burns, the government has remained silent and inactive, a mute spectator in all the violence.

Students from all over Delhi are part of the protests in Delhi right now. Despite the threats, they continue to protest and remain unwilling to be silenced. The protests have now reached a massive level as students from multiple colleges have joined in and some of the more responsible media channels have been broadcasting to the nation the truth. Ravish Kumar was foremost amongst them, by creating a space in his show where Umar Khalid and a few others could talk about what they would have at the seminar.

Some of the mainstream media has labeled the events as a clash between ABVP and AISA. This does not apply just to DU students, this applied to Indians all over. This was never a political clash between the left and the right. This is a protest and what many are terming a battle to protect one’s basic intellectual rights. Those who are part of the protest assert that they are protecting themselves and the nation from the goons who have their narrow-minded ideas about nationalism and want to impose it on everyone. The protests are to re-assert the existence of democracy.

The protests are continuing and will continue till the government recognises what they are fighting for and takes some action against the right-wing ABVP group that is guilty of atrocities. They have occurred in the past and will happen in the future too, if action is not taken. Till then, all everyone can do is protest and carry on the call of #StandWithDU.

News Source: The Wire, The Quint

Image Source: ANI

ABVP’s JNU Vice President Jatin Goraya resigns over Dalit Atrocities

Jatin Goraya – Vice President of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad’s Jawaharlal National University unit resigned stating the reason, he was ‘tired’ of ABVP’s attitude on the attacks against Dalits.

He’s fourth such member from the BJP wing to drop his position from the party this year due to various discrepencies. Pradeep Narwal who was the ABVP’s JNU unit joint secretary and two other members had submitted their resignations in February earlier this year, succeeding disputes in the university campus regarding the 9th February incident where ‘anti- national’ slogans were being chanted.

“I resign from the post of vice-president of ABVP, and disassociate myself from the casteist, farcical and patriarchal organisation. The conduct of ABVP has explicitly revealed their manipulative fascist and conservative face,” wrote Jatin Goraya in his resignation letter.

Moreover in his resignation letter he communicated that regressive stands on various issues ranging from the Rohit Vermula case to the JNU incident and the Dalit uprising for social justice and dignity in Una. It is quite predictable to see that the ABVP has been stigmatizing our own institution upon the fake premise of nationalism, anti-nationalism and forcing down their rather ruptured and obnoxious ideology of” nationalism” on  us, wrote Jatin Goraya in his resignation letter.

He further added that the institutionalised murder of Rohit Vermula was being illustrated as a suicide and the people involved were being defended, revealing that social justice was never their forte.

Sources: NDTV