UNIVERSITIES HAVE EMERGED AS THE FRONTLINE OF RESISTANCE to the RSS’ communal fascist agenda in India – and that is why they are under a systematic attack by the ABVP – the stormtroopers of the RSS. After the ABVP riot at Ramjas College in Delhi University, attacks by the ABVP have followed in several other campuses. In Delhi University itself, a street theatre festival in Khalsa College has been postponed because ABVP demanded that it be censored. A young woman student Gurmehar Kaur who began a campaign to say ‘I am not afraid of the ABVP’ was subjected to rape threats by the ABVP.
The ABVP tried to disrupt a seminar at Panjab University. ABVP is threatening and intimidating students of Central University of Haryana (Mahendragarh) who are agitating about conditions in their hostel. The ABVP attacked AISA activists including the elected woman representative of the students’ union of HNB Garhwal University, Srinagar in Uttarakhand. The ABVP has been burning the effigy of AISA all over the country, trying to paint AISA as ‘anti-national.’
Meanwhile the Vice Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) disallows faculty and students the right to participate in political or social activism and imposes medieval patriarchal rules on women residents of hostels, declared himself as a ‘proud RSS man.’ The ABVP would like the BHU model imposed on the whole country – where RSS shakhas are allowed and the VC himself can openly flaunt his RSS politics, while ordinary students and faculty will be denied the freedom to hold debates or discussions on any subject!
While the unrelenting assaults by the ABVP on students, teachers and intellectuals continue, the resistance too is unrelenting and powerful. Thousands of students of Delhi University and other Universities in Delhi together marched to reclaim the Delhi University’s campus. Citizens also marched to Parliament in Delhi to demand action by the Delhi Police against the ABVP rioters. Undaunted by the ABVP and by a submissive University Administration, Panjab University students held their disrupted seminar on the streets, where Seema Azad whom ABVP brands as ‘anti-national’, addressed the gathering. Every act of thuggery by the ABVP is increasing the determination of the students and teachers to fight back to refuse ABVP goons the right to censor thought on campuses.
Ministers of the Modi Government – including the Ministers for State for Home Kiren Rijiju and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley have weighed in to support the ABVP violence and intimidation, by implying that those at the receiving end of the violence are “anti-national.” Rijiju even asked “Who had polluted” the mind of Gurmehar Kaur, implying that a daughter who lost her soldier father in a war could ask for peace only if her mind were “polluted.” He never asked who had polluted the minds of the ABVP men who sent rape and death threats to Gurmehar Kaur.
Modi’s Ministers and a section of the media have been trying to shift the debate from ABVP’s violence to the ‘limits of free speech.’ But the protesting students and teachers are firm that the RSS cannot be allowed to censor academics and free speech on University campuses or the country. The limits of free speech cannot be set by professional hate-mongers.
It is ironic that the BJP and ABVP should arrogate to themselves the right to hand out certificates of ‘nationalism’ to others, while the RSS itself harbours hatred for secular, democratic India and seeks to replace it with a Hindu Nation. BJP and RSS members themselves stand accused of ISI links (in Madhya Pradesh) and of child trafficking (in West Bengal and Assam).
India as a country looks with hope towards the young people who are courageously refusing to be silenced by the ABVP’s fists and kicks, rocks and sticks. By standing up to the ABVP goons, students and teachers all over the country are offering a critical resistance to RSS attempts to silence critical thought in the country.