The RSS held a shakha (assembly) at the Delhi University-affiliated Swami Shraddhanand College on October 20 to preach its ideology among students.
A faculty member at another DU-affiliated institution, Lakshmibai College, said the RSS had organised multiple shakhas on the campus since September.
It’s also become a trend among DU departments and colleges to invite functionaries of the RSS or its affiliates to seminars and conferences, often solely because of their positions in these saffron organisations, a veteran teacher told this newspaper.
Nandita Narain, former president of the DU teachers’ association, termed the trend “misuse of the public university space” and the “politicisation of campuses”.
A student of Shraddhanand College said about 25 students had attended the shakha, which he said featured prayers, discussions and various exercises. He could not give details since he had not attended the event.
The college has regularly been inviting people associated with the RSS-BJP to its official events. On October 18, Delhi BJP “sangathan mantri” Pawan Rana and the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha’s Delhi president, Shashi Yadav, were invited to the college’s Meri Mati Meri Desh programme, part of a government campaign to pay tribute to martyrs of the freedom struggle.
On October 4, the college had organised a conference — Svavalambee Bharat Abhiyan Ke Antargat: Udyamita Protsahan Sammelan — to encourage entrepreneurs to help India become self-reliant. Deepak Sharma, Sanjay Gaur and Rajendra Saini of the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch — the RSS think-tank on economic issues — and BJP district president Satyanarayan Gautam were invited.
Leaders of the DU unit of RSS student arm ABVP were invited as guests to the oath-taking ceremony for those newly elected to the college students’ union on October 16. After protests by students, a university-level leader of Congress student arm NSUI too was invited.
“In our college, there is administrative support for the RSS and its affiliated organisations,” a student said.
Suraj Yadav Mandal, a teacher at the college, said the RSS had intensified its activities in the colleges and the departments of DU in recent years.
“Now they are doing it openly. The posters for seminars and conferences now mention RSS functionaries, with their designations, as guests,” Mandal said.
“RSS people address faculty members, with newly recruited teachers forced to sit through the sessions.”
At Lakshmibai College, those conducting RSS shakhas “mostly engage with the students” though “some faculty members join them too”, a teacher said.
In April, Delhi University had organised a programme on the Panchang — a Hindu calendar and almanac — and Indian traditional knowledge “in the light of the National Education Policy 2020”. The poster introduced the chief guest as Ramlal, stating his designation as all-India communications chief of the RSS.
Narain said Vishwa Hindu Parisad president Kapil Khanna was the guest of honour at a conference on value addition courses, organised by the DU-affiliated Janki Devi Memorial College in May.
“If a person is holding a government post or is a very well-known expert in a subject, he or she may be called in that capacity, irrespective of his or her political affiliations (RSS or otherwise),” Narain told The Telegraph.