RSS cadres on Sunday, October 22, held a march with saffron flags and sticks inside JNU and held a meeting on the campus, marking two firsts in the organisation’s history that reflected its efforts to expand its network in an institution known as a Left bastion. Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) Members in uniform marched through the Jawaharlal Nehru University premises chanting supremacist and communal slogans “ Jago To Ek Baar Hindu” on Sunday evening. The march was reportedly part of the Hindu nationalist and militant group’s Vijayadashami celebrations.
A 200-strong cadre in dark-brown trousers and white shirts — the RSS uniform — held the march from the main gate to the university’s administrative block, where they held the meeting. The JNU, once the pride of academia especially in the social sciences, today boasts a Vice Chancellor with clear Sangh connections. Shantishree Pandit took over as VC in February 2022. Last month, Pandit said she was proud of her association with the RSS. Reports say that, except for a few JNU students who are also members of RSS student arm ABVP, most of the participants were outsiders.
The JNU administration had in 2018 banned any form of protest or meeting within 100 metres of the administrative block. The restriction is still in force. Yet the RSS cadres held the meeting and sang “Jago toh ekbar Hindu jago toh (Wake up Hindus)”. Clearly this organization enjoys protection and immunity.
A video on Social media platform X (Twitter) shared by Saib Bilaval, a Researcher at JNU, the RSS volunteers gathered at the JNU admin block, where protests and demonstrations are not allowed within 100 meters of the building according to a court order. The song the saffron group was singing demonises Muslims and falsely refers to Bhagat Singh and Guru Gobind Singh as “Hindus,”
Meanwhile, students associated with the Left-leaning All India Students Association (AISA) and the Students Federation of India (SFI) protested against the RSS events on the campus.
In a statement issued the Students Federation of India (SFI) said the incident showed that JNU was turning into an arena for the saffron outfit’s hate politics and religious fanaticism.
“The divisive agenda and communal politics of the Sangh Parivar is gradually making the campus unsafe and uncomfortable for the students coming from minority communities. The JNU administration in a nexus with RSS, is wilfully partaking in the efforts to saffronise JNU,” it said.
The JNU students’ union and teachers’ association, until now, has been dominated by Left-leaning groups. In 2016, when M. Jagadesh Kumar was vice-chancellor, the university witnessed turmoil over certain “anti-national” slogans raised at an event.
Kumar was accused of promoting faculty members aligned with the RSS ideology. He brought in rules that banned any protest around the administrative block, the idea apparently being to prevent any agitation against his way of functioning.
“Such blatant admission of affiliation coming from the VC goes to show the kind of impunity enjoyed by the Sangh Parivar in JNU,” the SFI said.
“While on one hand the JNU administration is imposing heavy fines on the students protesting for their basic necessities, the silence maintained by it on the RSS shakha (assembly) taking place right in front of the administrative block is deafening.”
The SFI reminded the administration that JNU student Najeeb remained untraced since disappearing from the campus in 2016. It said the incident should be a warning to all about the consequences of the communal hatred injected into the campus by Right-wing forces.
Madhurima, an AISA activist, told the newspaper that many students had been fined and issued with show-cause notices in the last five years for gathering in front of the administrative block. “The university has violated its own rules to allow RSS cadres to hold a meeting in front of the administrative block,” she said.
An email has, it has been learnt, been sent to the VC seeking the university’s reasons for allowing the RSS event in an area where meetings are prohibited. A response is awaited.