Gujarat attack bares ‘plot on youths’
Suspected ABVP activists attacked Congress-backed students in Ahmedabad on Tuesday during a protest against the assault on JNU students.
The Congress-backed National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) had organised the protest outside the office of the RSS-affiliated ABVP in the Gujarat city’s Paldi area.
Gujarat NSUI general secretary Nikhil Savani suffered serious head injuries and has been admitted to VS General Hospital in Ahmedabad, a member of the union said.
In a video clip telecast by some local news channels, Savani, a close associate of Congress leader Hardik Patel, was seen being beaten by some people in the presence of policemen.
Blood stained the shirt of Savani. He was heard shouting that ABVP supporters were hitting him as different groups pounced on other NSUI members who were fleeing from the spot. Some policemen were seen wielding lathis and preventing the bleeding Savani from talking to the media.
The violence broke out when the NSUI members reached outside the ABVP office to protest against the attack on students and teachers at JNU. The ABVP is alleged to be behind the JNU attack.
“Our protest was peaceful. However, goons from the ABVP suddenly attacked us with sticks, stones and pipes. It was a pre-planned attack in the presence of the police. Over five of our members, including Savani, were injured,” another NSUI general secretary, Bhavik Solanki, said.
The Congress saw in the assault a sinister plan to strike fear among India’s youths to prevent the rising dissent on campuses from snowballing into a mass movement to save the spirit of freedom and constitutional values.
The Congress joint secretary in charge of the party’s students’ wing, Ruchi Gupta, told The Telegraph: “The sudden rise in violence on campuses is part of a sinister plan because our youths have in the recent past shown a much larger concern for constitutional values. The government has panicked and wants to crush it by force.”
The Congress, both in Delhi and Gujarat, posted videos of the incident on its official Twitter handle and condemned the BJP for the violence.
Congress leader Hardik Patel described the attack on Savani as “a bid on his life” and accused the BJP of trying to “strike fear into the students”. He added: “But the people have woken up now. The BJP and its allied outfits are in panic. There is an undeclared emergency in the country.”
The party’s official Twitter handle said: “A deplorable act by ABVP goons and clearly reflective of their violent tendencies. We strongly condemn this act of terror and demand swift action against the perpetrators. How can the BJP stand idle as innocent students are brutalised? They have turned India into a war zone.”
Congress Gujarat in-charge Rajeev Satav criticised the police for remaining a mute spectator as the NSUI members were attacked.
But the Gujarat BJP posted this message on its official Twitter handle: “What will you say if somebody holds demonstration with arms without police permission? Today, over 150 armed NSUI members targeted the ABVP office as part of a planned conspiracy and beat up our members. Is this the Congress character?”
The ABVP alleged there was a coordinated attack on their office in Ahmedabad by NSUI goons. “This is the historical office of the Navnirman Movement where students stood against the Congress government of Chimanbhai Patel & (the then) Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in the seventies. ABVP’s unwavering faith in democratic values is why they hate us!”
The ABVP alleged that NSUI members came to its office with an intention to attack the activists. “The NSUI members came to our office waving their flags. They then removed the flags and used the wooden sticks to attack our members,” ABVP member Naresh Desai said.
Ruchi Gupta, who has been drafted by Rahul Gandhi to guide student politics in the Congress, said: “The BJP is turning democracy on its head. Who will choose the issue to protest — the citizens or the ruling party? The issue at JNU is fee hike, which is a perfectly legitimate concern. Public universities are being privatised; even in public universities, much higher fees are being charged in the name of self-financed courses. Corruption in examinations is a big concern. Students were beaten up at several places for protesting against that.”
She added: “The ABVP should engage with students who are agitating over these issues with counter-argument and reasonable logic. But they can’t engage intellectually. Violence is the logical consequence of their politics. The RSS formed the ABVP in 1949 in the aftermath of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination. They are truly living up to their legacy. We have seen sustained violence on campuses — JNU, AMU, Jamia Millia, BHU, Hyderabad Central University…. Unfortunately, the police have become a participant in the subversion of the rule of law in most cases.”
Additional reporting by PTI