Delhi University's prestigious Ramjas College today almost turned into a war zone as clashes erupted between RSS-backed ABVP and Left-affiliated AISA with student groups resorting to violence including hitting each other with hockey sticks that left many of them bleeding.
Many teachers, policemen and a number of journalists also sustained injuries in the violence though a large contingent of police personnel was deployed across the North Campus of the Delhi University.
This came a day after the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) forced the suspension of an event to be addressed by JNU student Umar Khalid, leading to a protest march by the All India Students' Association (AISA).
Khaild was jailed last year for allegedly shouting anti-national slogans at JNU.
ABVP had yesterday locked down the Ramjas college seminar room, and pelted stones in protest against an invitation to JNU students Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid to address a seminar saying they are "anti-nationals". The invite to the seminar on 'Culture of Protests' was withdrawn by the college authorities yesterday following opposition by the ABVP.
The clashes took place around 1 PM and police could bring the situation under control five hours later. A group of students were also locked up allegedly by ABVP activists for four hours at the college campus.
Police was not forthcoming when asked about the number of people who sustained injuries in the clash.
The ABVP supporters had yesterday also resorted to violence following which the college authorities withdrew the invitation to Rashid and Khalid, triggering widespread anger among a section of students and teachers who had planned a march today to Maurice Nagar police station, demanding action against those involved in the "vandalism".
On their part, the ABVP members did not allow the march to proceed and allegedly locked up the students and teachers inside the college campus.
At this point, some AISA members tried to barge inside the college to "rescue the captives" resulting in the clashes.
So far no FIR has been lodged but police said they will file it soon on the complaints of the SHO of the Maurice Nagar police station and not on the basis of complaints by AISA-backed students and teachers belonging to Delhi University Teachers Association.
Ramjas Principal Rajender Prasad said he is in discussion with the teachers, who were part of organisers of the event, and requested both the groups to not disrupt the peace and harmony in the college.
"Not only the ABVP completely disrupted the seminar, they were also abusing, beating women and even journalists leaving some profusely bleeding. Why can't the police see such hooliganism? There is adequate police presence on the campus but nobody from ABVP has been detained yet," alleged Rashid, who was formerly JNU Students' Union vice president.
She also alleged that "police joined the ABVP goons" in attacking her.
Abha Dev, a member of DU Teachers' Association, claimed that besides "several students", three teachers of different DU colleges -- Prasanta Chakraborty (English), Suvrita (History) and Mousumi Bose (Philosophy) -- were injured in the clashes and taken to Hindu Rao hospital.
"People from the ABVP are not allowing students who had come to attend a protest march to leave the college," Kawalpreet Kaur, President of the All India Students Association's (AISA) Delhi University unit was quoted as saying by IANS.
"The students have been locked inside and those trying to come out were beaten up by ABVP goons. We tried to barge in inside the college to rescue the students but they are attacking us as well. They have come prepared with hockey sticks," an AISA member said.
College Principal Rajender Prasad said he is in discussion with the teachers who were organisers of the event and requested both the groups to not disrupt the peace and harmony in the college.
Prasad had yesterday claimed that though the college advocates freedom of speech, the decision was taken keeping the situation in mind.
The two JNU students were earlier invited to take part in a session during a two-day seminar on 'Culture of Protest' organised by Wordcraft, Ramjas college's Literary Society.
"I was on my way to Ramjas College when I was told the event was disrupted by the ABVP. Organisers told me to come from a different route but I still could not make it," Khalid told IANS on Wednesday.
He said the Wednesday march was not about him but about the "democratic space of the university".
Delhi Police trying to shield ABVP members: AAP
"The Delhi Police has been trying to save the members of the ABVP," AAP's Delhi unit convenor Dilip Pandey said.
Referring to the last year's controversy at JNU, where anti-India slogans were allegedly raised, the AAP took a jibe at the Delhi Police, saying they were not able to arrest those who gave a "cry of breaking the nation."
Pandey also demanded that the Delhi Police be made more accountable as the crime graph in the city has been on the rise.
He said, instead of focusing on controlling the crime rate, the Delhi Police is busy targeting AAP leaders and its MLAs.
Citing figures, Pandey claimed that 29 people have been killed in January, 283 cases of looting and 140 cases of exploitation of women have been reported.
"As the Delhi Police is under the Centre, the crime rate in the national capital has been on the rise. The Delhi Police should be made accountable," he said.