09 Feb 2016: A cultural evening of protest with students, poets, singers and activists turned into a war of words with the left parties on one side and ABVP on the other. Police vehicles were heard across the campus and policemen with ‘lathis’ were deployed to keep the march in check. The posters put up across the campus called for this protest “in solidarity with the struggle of the Kashmiri people for their democratic rights to self-determination” and also, “against the judicial killings of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat.”
“The VC had formerly approved of this cultural event and later denied it”, shared a student at the protest. The date, February 9, 2016, marked three years since Afzal Guru was hanged in Tihar Jail.
The event went on regardless and members of the ABVP took to the street across Sabarmati Dhaba in objection against the gathering, crying out slogans of ‘Kashmir hamara hai’. As the event paved way for a march towards Ganga Dhaba, policemen and security personnel formed barriers between the opposing protestors to deter any possible ‘disruption’ of peace on campus. The march witnessed multiple slogans being cried out at one another with none of the sides wanting to calm down.
“I was pushed by a man from ABVP in a light blue shirt at KV bus stop”, claimed a girl at the protest. When the Informer approached an ABVP representative to enquire on the alleged harassment, he mentioned, “It is all a strategy by the left parties to put their women in front and form chains, pushing does happen in protests like this”.
As the march tried to culminate at Ganga Dhaba, demonstrators from either side augmented their protest with Kashmiri students adhering to a ‘ragdo ragdo’ trampling of feet and ABVP calling the left protestors as ‘anti-nationalists’. Varsity officials tried to ensure order between the protestors and eventually, the members of the left calmed down and ABVP protestors made their way to various hostels still crying out slogans.
As the protestors started dispersing, Virendra Singh, SHO of Vasant Kunj police force shared, “It’s a university campus and we cannot manhandle students, we were here to ensure peace and I think my men did a good job.”
Dhaval Bhate is an MA student at CSSS and works at the News Pool of The Informer.
Jennifer is a research scholar at CSSS and works at the News Pool of The Informer.