New Delhi: Delhi University’s Ramjas college on Tuesday cancelled an invitation to JNU students Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid to address a seminar following violent protests from ABVP and members of the varsity’s student union.
While Khalid was among the students charged with sedition in connection with an event at JNU last year where anti-national slogans were allegedly raised, Shehla Rashid, a former JNU students union member, was instrumental in the movement against the students’ arrest. The two students were scheduled to take part in a session during a two-day seminar on “Culture of Protest” organised by Wordcraft, Ramjas college’s Literary Society.
Khalid was supposed to speak on ‘The War in Adivasi areas’ which happens to be his PhD subject as well, while Shehla’s session was scheduled tomorrow. Members of Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) and RSS’ students wing ABVP gathered outside the college and shouted slogans demanding that the invite to the “anti-nationals” be cancelled. Organisers of the seminar claimed that the ABVP members “pelted stones, locked the seminar room and cut the electricity supply”, a charge denied by the ABVP.
“While the seminar will continue we decided to cancel participation of these two students. It is not that we do not advocate freedom of speech but it had to be done keeping peace and harmony of campus in mind,” Ramjas principal Rajendar Prasad said. Vinita Chandra, professor at the college’s English department and one of the organisers, said, “They locked the seminar room, cut the electricity supply and pelted stones at the window as well. I wonder why police was not involved in handling the situation”.
The principal did not comment on the allegations of lockdown and stone pelting. Police officials claimed that they were present on campus and there was no violence. DUSU President Amit Tanwar claimed that they raised slogans objecting to the two students’ presence on campus but the protest was not violent. “We were against invitation to anti-nationals for addressing a seminar and we shouted slogans demanding that the event be cancelled. However, there was no violence and it was a peaceful protest,” he said.
Umar Khalid alleged in a Facebook post, “I hear a mob of more than 100 ABVP pseudo-nationalists have gathered at the gates of Ramjas College with hockey sticks and stones threatening of large scale violence if an anti-national like me is allowed. “What is ABVP scared of? A discussion on war against adivasis?”
“Police tells the organisers that it will not protect me or them from any attack by ABVP and the organisers will be held responsible for any violence by ABVP. Such is the state of democracy in our country where attackers are given complete protection and those facing attacks are held responsible for the attacks on them,” he alleged.