After a peaceful weekend, the Ramjas row has refused to bow down with marches and counter marches. Today, however, was a different day altogether in the campus. A historic march consisting of over a thousand students, teachers and politicians started from SGTB Khalsa College and culminated at Arts Faculty. Students and teachers from colleges across University of Delhi, Jamia Millia, JNU joined in huge numbers to protest against the hooliganism that was allegedly perpetrated by ABVP karyakartas on 22nd February at Ramjas College. The march – which was called ‘Save DU’ – garnered many students who were first-time protesters.
Teachers come out in support
Teacher associations also came out in large numbers to support their students who were protesting for their right to expression and dissent. Teachers from Delhi University Teachers Association(DUTA), JNU Teachers Association(JNUTA), Ambedkar University and Jamia joined the march. Rajni Parliwala who teaches sociology at DSE said, “This a response from students and teachers to people who try to dictate to us what to speak, what we eat, what we listen to and what we say.”
Abha Dev Habib, a teacher at Miranda House college and member of executive council of DUTA said “Here, students from colleges and universities have gathered to protest against forces trying to dictate what type of seminars can be done and what cannot take place.”
Politicians and Academics throw their weight behind students
The march was also attended by Yogendra Yadav, chief of Swaraj India. Even Sitaram Yechury, the General Secretary of CPI-M and D. Raja, Rajya Sabha Member from Kerala addressed the students. “RSS wants to impose its ideas on everyone,” he said.
Meanwhile, Jean Dreze a famous researcher of development economics who also attended the seminar said, “I am here to support freedom of expression. If there is no freedom of expression then there is no democracy.”
Student leaders from other universities join the march
The protest march was also joined by Kanhaiya Kumar and Shehla Rashid from JNU. Kanhaiya who spoke about maintaining peace and non-violence in campuses highlighted that ABVP has no right to engage in violence. He also said that the trend of violence by ABVP in campuses across India is at attempt to saffronize the campuses across the country.
Candle March by NSUI
In the evening, another march was organised by NSUI, the student wing Congress Party, which started from Arts Faculty and ended at Maurice Nagar police station. Students with posters of peace, candles and cut outs of Mahatma Gandhi protested in order to maintain peace in the campus.
Heavy Police Bandobast
After being on the line of fire for its mishandling of affairs on 22nd February, the police was on its toes to ensure security and safety of the march. With senior IPS officers monitoring the march and ensuring the safety and security of the protesters.
Attacks by ABVP activists reported
There were some reports and videos that surfaced where ABVP activists where seen to be attacking students who were returning from protests with belts and stones. Their attack was immediately controlled by police personnel present around. An FIR has been registered and the two ABVP activists have been arrested for the same.
Among thousands of voices as this author scanned for reasons for which protestor joined the march he found while some had come to protest against vandalism, some wanted to stand for free speech, some came to support Gurmehar Kaur (a student of LSR, who was given rape threats on social media), some came to get their voices heard. Irrespective of various causes that brought the protestors to the march, they all stood, walked, shouted slogans and protested together to express their right to dissent.
Feature Image credits: Prateek Singh for DU Beat
DU Beat stands strongly for freedom of speech and expression. We condemn this type of attack on our academic spaces. Our classrooms are places where we can speak, discuss and debate on issues irrespective of the ideologies or backgrounds we come from. Violence has no place in our academic spaces.