(Picture credit: Hindustan Times)
On February 22 of his year, ABVP, a RSS-BJP backed student wing, which came to power yet again during last year’s student elections, disrupted a peaceful protest by students and teachers of Ramjus College and Delhi University. The peaceful protest was being organized because Ramjus College had invited Umar Khalid for a talk on campus revolving around cultures of protest. However on the day of the talk, students belonging to the ABVP threatened the college and forced them to cancel the session.
Hence, the protest by the students of Ramjus College was meant to demonstrate their unhappiness against the blatant bullying of the ABVP party. Except, the protest turned violent when the ABVP party arrived on scene and started inflicting violence on the students and teachers alike. A very prominent professor of English at Delhi University, was strangled with his own scarf and was kicked in the stomach and had to be hospitalized immediately. Many students were beaten up and rumors spread around the campus of section 144 being imposed along with the fear of the goons who, many students reported, were sighted going around in their motorbikes, carrying lathis and looking for students who had participated that day in the protest to beat them up.
A march on 28th February was organized by the students of Delhi University to demonstrate the fact that a university belongs to the presentation of genuine ideas and free thinking. They raised the slogan – vaad vivaad ki azaadi – freedom to discuss and debate, something that is being curbed through the saffron nationalism that student bodies like ABVP represent. The march was attended by thousands of students, from Delhi University to JNU to Ambedkar University Delhi. The fact that there is a need to assert that we as people demand equal rights to dissent and refute the popular opinion, moved the students to keep marching against the sweltering sun. They insisted that they want the freedom to carry out discussions in our classrooms, corridors and on the roads of our campus and most importantly that democracy doesn’t only exist until one falls in line and follows that nationalistic idea presented to us in a textbook.
One of the slogans that was raised during this march was – pyaar karne ki azaadi, humein chahiye azaadi – freedom to love, we want freedom. This slogan was emblematic of the fact that every year Queer Pride Parade is organized to assert this very right. And right then in that march with thousands of students marching towards the Arts Faculty in unison, the different issues that were brought up, became one because the underlying demand was freedom. People marched ahead carrying banners with Rohith Vemula’s face, banners asking Police to take action, banners proclaiming that free love is something no one can deny us and most of all, banners that reflected that we stand together to fight.