JNU: Women students face sexual assault during Ram Navami violence

On the occasion of Ram Navami on Sunday, violence broke out in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) leaving several students, specifically those from the left parties, gravely injured. The violence commenced following allegations that ABVP prevented the delivery of meat inside the campus as they claim it hurt their religious sentiments.

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The video of an ABVP cadre shooing away a Muslim meat vendor has gone viral on social media. The video was followed by photographs of students getting beaten up with All India Students Association (AISA) activist Akhtarista Ansari’s bleeding head at the centre focus.

However, in the entire account of the Ram Navami violence, female student activists of left parties note that the physical assault was accompanied by verbal abuse of a sexual nature.

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“At the Kaveri hostel that day, it started with ABVP members throwing at us whatever they could get their hands on. Flower pots, broken waste, and such. At one point, an iron rod hit me in the thigh. It was only later as we started walking out of the hostel that we were met with rape threats” said Aatika Singh, one of the students from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) who was attacked by goons from the Akhila Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).

“The first man (from ABVP) said that he cannot hit me because I am a woman. His friend from the same organisation responded with a “just rape her,” recounted Aatika, an MA student from the School of Arts and Aesthetics.

Dolan Samanta, an MPhil scholar of history narrates a similar story. “They started off by saying Dolan ko pakadte hain. (Get hold of Dolan) One of the goons twisted my arm and groped my breast inside Kaveri hostel while also calling me a Randi (pejorative term for a sex-worker),” she alleged.

She was then chased off outside the hostel and threatened with rape. As per Dolan’s testimony, she was also told by one of the ABVP cadres, in a sinister tone of voice, “Tujhe toh raat main dekh lunga.” (I will see you in the night.)

Requesting anonymity, another student from the Labour studies department stated that Randi was a turn of phrase women from left parties in JNU were now used to.

“The guards were standing between ABVP activists and us. They grabbed us from over the guards and started targetting me. In a scuffle, I got hurt on my cheek. My hair was grabbed, twisted and pulled. I managed to escape but not before one of them told me, “Natak mat kar randi.” (Don’t overreact now.)

Police involvement:

On April 11, Dolan filed a complaint with the Vasanthkunj police station, a copy of which has been accessed by Siasat.com and the investigation is still ongoing. She informs this reporter that at least 8-10 women were physically or sexually assaulted at Kaveri hostel on Ram Navami.

Aatika takes the Sunday incident as an example to point out that while horrifying, it is no more an isolated incident. “This is a pattern. Muslim, Adavasi, Dalit women get targetted often. Just that this time, the excuse was meat.”

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