Thousands of Citizens Take to Streets to Fight Gundagardi

Citizens of Delhi hit the streets again today, in large numbers demanding justice for DU.

Image Courtesy: Aswathy Senan

Citizens of Delhi hit the streets again today, in large numbers demanding justice for DU. People came together to reassert right to education, debate and discussion. Thousands of students, teachers, karamcharis and concerned citizens marched from Mandi house to Parliament Street. Cries of justice and action against ABVP’s lumpenism were in the air. They also shouted slogans against the Delhi Police who were shielding the ABVP goons.
The protesters present in today’s rally emphasised on the violence free freedom of speech and expression for everyone, including the ABVP. The students did not show any contempt or hatred towards the ABVP. The public view was that there are clashes between different ideologies but violence is not the solution, discussion and debate is.

Avinash, a student of DU, who was one of the organizers of the Ramjas College Seminar which had to be cancelled, addressed the gathering. He said that he doesn’t belong to any student political organisation. He expressed his concern for the University space which was being attacked. He called out to the ABVP members to debate with him; not get violent and keep the culture of debate and dissent alive in campus.

Shashwati Majumdar, teacher of the Delhi University talked about the dubious timing of all this. While privatisation of education is taking place, the right wing organisations are trying to create a distraction so that the issue fades in the background. Last year, when the Occupy UGC movement was going on, ABVP created a binary of Nationalism-Antinationalism in JNU. This time, when there is a fight against an attempt to make the colleges autonomous, they have again created the same binary in DU.

Today’s march was joined by more than 3000 citizens. It was a vibrant protest with people singing songs of peace and resistance.

 A DU student in the march said that it is not about the left and the right; it is also not just about the university space. There is a much larger question involved; the attack on freedom of speech goes beyond Universities.

A Delhi University faculty member said “There is an environment of fear in Universities now. We are here today because people need to know what is happening in our universities”.

Let’s recapitulate the events that lead to today’s protest:

  • English department of the college, along with Wordcraft – the Ramjas Literary Society – had organised a two-day seminar exploring representations of dissent. Umar Khalid was one of the speakers on 21st February, 2017. ABVP students vandalised the event, objecting to Umar Khalid’s presence. They surrounded the seminar room and locked up the faculty and students forcing a cancellation of the event.
  • To protest the disruption and violence by the ABVP, the students and teachers of DU organised a protest march on February 22. The march was disrupted by the ABVP, and they attacked students, teachers and journalists alike. More than 20 people were injured badly. Few got hospitalized.
  • In response to the ABVP’s violence, a call was given for a peaceful march on 28th February, 2017 by the DU students. The march saw more than 2000 students and teachers from DU, JNU, Jamia, and Ambedkar University. Several political parties expressed their solidarity with the protest including Congress, CPI(M), CPI, CPI(ML), RJD and AAP. Leaders from various political parties joined in to show their solidarity.

Today the people spoke loud and clear. They will defend their freedom of speech, in Universities and out and they will always stand up against violence of any form.



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