Wednesday| 3 May 2016: Seventy teachers across various centres and schools yesterday joined 180 relay hunger strikers and 16 indefinite hunger strikers to voice out their demands regarding scrapping of punishments and fines imposed on students involved in the 9 February incident.
JNU Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) had put up its own tent near the Jawaharlal Nehru statue at Ad Block, and spent the day delivering speeches against the High Level Enquiry Committee (HLEC) report and making posters in solidarity with the protesting students and against the “rising intolerance of dissent and fascism in the country.” The evening featured “Songs of the Unvanquished”, a musical performance was delivered by Chaar Yaar, a band consisting of Madan Gopal Singh-a former JNU student himself, Deepk Castelino, Pritam Ghosal and Amjad Khan. Students danced to the tunes of John Lennon’s “Imagine” and Runa Laila’s “Mast Kalandar” amongst others.
Scenes at Freedom Square have been tense since Monday, 2 May, when some DU-ABVP, JNU-ABVP students and left activists tussled with each other during the heat of the day at 1 o’clock and attacked each other with loud sloganeering. Syed Umar Khalid was allegedly hurled abuses by ABVP activists on the strike which led to sloganeering against the right-wing activists by the left. It was during this time that a SFI female activist was reportedly insulted by a DU-BJP activist. One man in an orange shirt made an inappropriate and obscene gesture at the girl after which another war of bitter sloganeering started between the two groups. G4S security, including the Chief Security Officer, tried hard to pacify the crowds. By the time the Proctor had been informed about the rude gestures, the sloganeering had died down but the tense atmosphere was very palpable. ABVP activists repeatedly tried to refute the claims that they were the reason of the discord at Ad-Block and that “left too invites students from other universities”. On the following day, tensions continued as ABVP strikers attempted to enforce a segregation of the hunger strike space, not allowing AISA protesters to chant and sloganeer in their area. G4S security guards were involved in separating the crowds and several JNUTA members also took part in the resolving the clash.
It was on Monday evening that a full crowd gathered to protest against the “shameful tactics” by burning an effigy of the ABVP. Kanhaiya Kumar, JNUSU President, gave an impassioned address to a full crowd and requested more students to sign up for the mass relay with the teachers.
Kumar Prashant is a BA student at CRS and works for The Informer.
Photos by Sibel Guner, an MA student at CSSS who works for The Informer.