Hundreds of students and teachers of Delhi University and other campuses in Delhi held a spirited protest on 6th February against Narendra Modi’s visit to Sri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) in Delhi University. All India Students’ Association (AISA) along with other student groups joined the protest. Students and teachers expressed shock and anger at the politically motivated use of academic space to whitewash the image of the mastermind of Gujarat carnage for his future political ambitions. AISA leaders said that the justice loving students, teachers and people of Delhi will never forgive and forget Modi’s real character, while the victims of the Gujarat massacre are still crying for justice. Democratic minded people will continue to foil Modi’s farcical image building exercises, in Delhi and elsewhere.
One participant in the protest said, “In the barbaric Delhi gang-rape case, we held the Sheila Govt responsible even though the Govt did not actually mastermind the brutal rape. In Gujarat 2002, equally barbaric rapes and killings took place. The rapists and killers (like Babu Bajrangi who ripped Kauser Bano’s foetus out with a sword) proudly boasted that ‘Narendrabhai’ was the one who made all that carnage possible. Can we, then, fail to hold Modi responsible for those horrific rapes and killings?”
Protesters recalled the custodial rape and murder of Kauser Bi, wife of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, in which Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah, a close associate of Modi, is accused. Modi might be masquerading inside SRCC as though the 2002 carnage were a thing of the past, but his supporters outside were proving otherwise. Women protesters were also subjected to sexist abuse by police personnel, and ABVP goons openly threatened protesting women with rape, brandishing iron rods ripped from police barricades and saying, “We’ll thrust this in your body and repeat Gujarat unless you shut up.”
The Delhi Police water-cannoned and lathi charged the protestors and on top of which the police let goons from the ABVP beat up the peaceful protestors. The police even caught protesters including JNUSU Joint Secretary Piyush and handed them over to ABVP goons to be beaten up. Several protestors, including the JNUSU Joint Secretary Piyush Raj, AISA activists Shafi and Chintu and SFI activist Kopal were beaten up and arrested by the police and were detained at Maurice Nagar police station. Following the protests 12 people, including 8 AISA activists and one DU teacher, have been named in an FIR by the police.
Later the Maurice Nagar thana was gheraoed by the protesters demanding action against those police officials who did this lathi charge on peaceful protestors. AISA also demanded that the ABVP goons who indulged in open violence be identified and punished. The police refused to register FIRs against police officers and personnel, however, complaints were registered.
In spite of the repression, the large number of protesters who gathered at very short notice to protest killer Modi’s entry into DU, showed the determination of students to resist communal fascists.
On 9 February at 8 am, news of the stealthy and shameful execution of Afzal Guru came in. The PUDR called for a silent protest demonstration at Jantar Mantar. CPI(ML) Central Committee member Kavita Krishnan, Comrade Girija Pathak of CPI(ML) central headquarters, and AISA and RYA activists joined the demonstration. A small band of Bajrang Dal goons were at Jantar Mantar ‘celebrating’ the execution. When some Kashmiri young men and women raised placards of mourning and outrage, they were attacked by the Bajrang Dal men, who collected some other men from around Jantar Mantar by whipping up hatred against ‘anti-nationals.’ The police stood as mute spectators as the mob grew in aggression, and allowed the saffron goons to inflict violence on the peaceful protesters, including young Kashmiri women and men. A civil liberties activist’s face was blackened. The police, instead of arresting the saffron mobsters, arrested several of the peaceful demonstrators, especially the Kashmiri youth, and took them to Mandir Marg police station. However they were released later on the intervention of human rights lawyers.
In Dehradun, too, Kashmiri students protesting against the recent killings in Kashmir, the blockade and the hanging of Afzal Guru, were beaten up on 12 February by Bajrang Dal goons and arrested. Kashmiri youth, who had not even participated in the protest, were also beaten up in the market place by the Bajrang Dal mob, which demanded that the police book the Kashmiri youth for sedition or else ‘hand them over’ to the lynch mob. Democratic intelligentsia, activists, and journalists intervened and eventually the 16 Kashmiri youth were released late at night on bonds.
On 16 February, at Gandhi Park, Dehradun, there was a joint Left protest against the incident, demanding:
1. Immediately drop all the charges against the protesters.
2. Arrest all the Bajrang Dal/BJP goons as people have enough proof (visual and otherwise) to identify them.
3. Suspend all the police officers who participated in this brutal attack and shielded the right wing goons.
Protesters included Indresh Maikhuri and Malti Haldar, State Committee members of CPI(ML), the CPI(M)’s Uttarakhand State Secretary, CPI’s State Secretary, and leaders of CPI(ML) New Democracy, as well as Gautam Navlakha and several others.
When Sri Lanka President Rajapakse visited Bodhgaya in what he claimed was a ‘spiritual’ journey to a place of peace associated with the Buddha, apostle of peace, he was greeted with protests reminding that his hands were stained with the blood of Tamil people. AISA and RYA showed protest placards to Rajapakse at Bodhgaya visit at a short distance from where he stood. They demanded he be tried for crimes against humanity. Eight cadres, belonging to All India Students Association (AISA) and Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA), were detained, while Nandkishore Singh and Mahendra Singh of Aurangabad district were arrested when they tried to raise slogans against Rajapakse. Protests were also held at Patna.