“I have been brutally attacked by goons wearing masks. I have been bleeding. I was brutally beaten up” said Aishe Ghosh, the president of the students’ union at Jawahar Lal Nehru University (JNU). Violence broke out at the Jawaharlal Nehru University on Sunday after a group of around 50 masked goons barged into the campus and attacked students and teachers. JNU attacks have sent a shiver down students across the country and among those who are seeing increased cases of violence in education institutions.
Students inside the campus told SheThePeople that masked individuals came with stones and started pelting against them. Videos and images of vandalising of hostel property at JNU went viral. “People are seen carrying rods and lathis to beat protestors up,” says Sanskriti Rajkhowa, who was in Shipra Hostel inside the campus at the moment of conversation.
The third-year PhD student, said students lodged in her hostel had barricaded the doors after closing them down with mess tables and chairs and are carrying small weapons like pepper sprays and mirchi powders for self-defence. “We got all the women downstairs and we decided that we will stay in groups of three-four inside our rooms. We are trying to do what we can. The attackers haven’t reached us yet but they have reached Koyna hostel which is right next to us. They have done most amount of violence in Sabarmati hostel area and also Mahi/Mandavi. They have also ransacked Periyar boys hostel. Just now we got to know that they are running around with acid bottles in their hands.”
On asking when exactly the violence broke out, she alleged that ABVP goons had started beating up students. “Since morning today groups of goons were roaming around Sabarmati hostel and Periyar hostel and outside the stadium which their faces masked carrying sticks and rods in their hands. Because of attacks, a huge bunch of people went to AIIMS trauma centre to get treatment around 2.30 p.m. When that happened, we thought that that was it and the initial phase of violence will wither away. But then the JNUTA called for a peace march and these people came there also. There was police standing there and guards too who have also beaten up students,” Sanskriti says adding that her friend who was present at the march told her about police beating up the protestors.
“This is an urgent message for the entire JNU community that there is a law and order situation on the campus. Masked miscreants armed with sticks are roaming around, damaging property and attacking people. The JNU administration has called the police to maintain order,” says a statement issued by JNU registrar.
Of all the people who have been injured in the attacks, the numbers are unknown yet, JNU Student president Aishe Ghosh was brutally attacked with videos of her head bleeding profusely circulating on social media, a grab of which is on the featured image. There have been reports saying attackers are roaming with acid bottles to throw at protestors. SheThePeople was unable to confirm this independently.
JNU professor Jayati Ghosh spoke to SheThePeople over the phone and said, “There are goons roaming around the campus.”
Fee hike is reported as the reason for the attacks in JNU. The attacks started, as per student accounts, when teachers started to march within the university as a protest in solidarity with students who stood up against the fee hike. Explaining context to the violence, Sanskriti says, “Today is the 65th day of the protest since we have been fighting for affordable education. The administration released a new Inter-Hall Administration manual which included the revised rates for hostel rent, mess fee, etc. which was passed in an illegal and undemocratic manner. Students have been protesting and opposing this for 65 days now and since then the entire university has also been shut. Now at the end of every semester, students have to go through a registration process within five days.”
Former foreign secretary Nirupama Menon Rao, said “The scenes of the bloody attack at JNU tonight suggest a wilful, calculated, and deliberate abdication of democracy and civilised debate in open favour of mob rule and thuggery. No law-abiding society can license such behaviour- our conscience as a nation – where is it?”
Our temples of learning have become targets of unprecedented violence in the last few months. What does this say about our respect for education? Our hope in students? And of the future of this country?