Two groups of students clashed at the Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Kaveri Hostel in New Delhi on Sunday, allegedly over serving of non-vegetarian food in the mess on Ram Navami, with police saying six students were injured in the violence.
The two groups, however, claimed that over 60 students were injured from both sides.
Several purported videos of the violence have surfaced on social media, with one of them showing a student, Akhtarista Ansari, bleeding from the head. Officials have not confirmed the authenticity of the videos.
The JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) alleged that Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad members stopped students from eating non-vegetarian food in the hostel mess and created a violent atmosphere.
However, the right-wing ABVP denied the charge and claimed that Leftists obstructed a pooja programme organised at the hostel on Ram Navami.
Both sides accused each other of pelting stones and injuring their members. Deputy Commissioner of Police (Southwest) Manoj C told PTI that a total of six students have received injuries and have been sent to a hospital.
“There is no violence as of now. We are all positioned here with our team. On the request of the university, we have come here. We are trying to maintain peace,” he said. “Presently, the situation is peaceful. Both student groups are protesting peacefully. Appropriate legal action will be taken on receipt of a complaint. The situation is peaceful,” the senior police officer added.
The JNUSU alleged that the ABVP, the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), used “muscle power and goondaism” to create a ruckus, manhandled the staff and asked them not to prepare any non-vegetarian items.
“They were forcing and attacking the mess committee to change the dinner menu and exclude the usual non-vegetarian items in it for all students,” it alleged.
“JNU and its hostels are meant to be inclusive spaces for all and not one particular section,” it said.
A student said that the ABVP asked the Kaveri Hostel mess committee not to prepare non-vegetarian food for the dinner, but the members refused to comply, saying that students have the choice to have non-vegetarian or vegetarian food on Sundays.
“In the evening, when the mess committee members were having a meeting with the mess manager, ABVP activists barged inside and started attacking them with (Ram Navami) flag stick. Later, residents of Kaveri Hostel sent an SOS message to student office-bearers who reached there but were attacked with stones and sticks,” he said.
The ABVP, however, rejected the JNUSU’s allegations and claimed that Leftists disrupted a pooja and havan organised by students on the occasion of Ram Navami.
“Some unaffiliated students had organised a pooja and havan programme on the auspicious occasion of Ram Navami at 3:30 pm at the Kaveri Hostel. This pooja was joined by a large number of common students of JNU. The Leftists came to object, obstruct and prevent the pooja. They have created a false ruckus on the issue of Right to Food’ (Non-Vegetarian Food),” they said.
The ABVP alleged that the posters of the pooja had been put up three days ago and since then, the members of the Left and the Congress-affiliated National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) were issuing threats and saying they won’t allow it to be held.
“There is no angle of the non-veg food. Ten to 12 activists of ABVP have been left injured. When students were coming out after the pooja, they were caught unawares as student from the Left outfits started pelting stones and attacking us with sticks,” said the ABVP.
The incident brought back the memories of the January 5, 2020 violence, when a mob of masked men had stormed the campus and targeted students in three hostels, unleashing mayhem with sticks, stones and iron rods, hitting inmates and breaking windows, furniture and personal belongings.
At least 28 people, including JNU Students’ Union president Aishe Ghosh, were injured as chaos reigned on the campus for nearly two hours.
The Delhi Police had came under attack for not acting when the mob was running riot on the campus, and especially for naming student union leaders, including Ghosh, in the two FIRs related to vandalism on the campus.