The JNU Students Union has again found itself in the midst of a controversy. This time around the Islamist-communist combine resorted to violence of the worst form in order to halt the screening of the movie ‘In the name of love’, which depicted the problem of terrorism and human trafficking in the state of Kerala on the pretext of love. What was totally an academic exercise was objected to by comrades within JNU. An eyewitness who faced the wrath of such extremists spoke to the tfipost.com (RL) on the condition of anonymity. Excerpts of the interview have been produced here:
RL: Was the movie screened with an academic objective?
Eyewitness: Vivekanand Vichar Manch and Global India Foundation were to screen the movie ‘In The Name of Love’ by Sudipto Sen, who is a renowned filmmaker having won the National Award four times. Before starting the movie the director had urged the protestors to watch the movie and engage in a healthy discussion and debate after the screening.
RL: How did the filmmaker approach them? What was the attitude of the suspicious elements?
Eyewitness: The filmmaker urged the protestors to watch the movie peacefully and give their views later on. However, the JNUSU protestors masquerading as “seculars” exercised their right to freedom of speech and expression. They continued their protests at the Sabarmati Dhaba, which has become infamous for violent protests including the burning of effigies. After the screening started, things took an ugly turn. The protesting comrades came pretty close to the group of students watching the movie and started disrupting the show with their dhaplis and slogans. It appeared that they could turn violent any moment.
RL: How and when did the protests turn violent?
Eyewitness: For some time they were on the other side of the human chain formed by the guards who were standing on the right side of the screen (the sabarmati dhaba side). However, as the movie continued, a few protesting students came from the left side where there were no guards (sabarmati hostel side). They stood right in front of the screen with their placards in an objectionable and threatening manner. Despite all the provocative attempts, the students were watching the movie peacefully without involving themselves with the goons. Having failed in getting any attention, one Pradeep Narwal who is patronised by the JNU Students Union along with some other protesters climbed the platform and cut the wire of the projector. He indulged in vandalism and broke the movie screen despite my request not to do so. The hooligans climbed the platform and started hurling abuses at the students on the other side including common students, guests, Vivekanand Vichar Manch and ABVP activists. Even women and female students were not spared. In fact, some elements among the JNU Students Union protestors groped, pinched and pushed several female students. Shirt buttons of two female ABVP activists were torn in the scuffle by misogynist and lustful elements. Several girls were manhandled by the JNU Students Union activists. ABVP activists were threatened that they will be maligned and defamed apart from being subjected to public ridicule. The hooligans asserted, “Tumhari yahan koi aukaat nahi hai, koi nahi sunega tumhari campus me.”
Suddenly, I heard that some leftist goons had thrown eggs and stones due to which another scuffle was taking place near the tree on the right side of Sabarmati Dhaba and Gaurav Kumar came rushing towards us with his bleeding hand telling that somebody had beaten and pushed him in such a manner that he fell on a sharp object and his hand was severely injured.
RL: What was the reaction of student leaders in JNU?
Eyewitness: Nobody listened to us. In fact, the student leaders threatened and abused us instead of controlling their goons. When some students questioned the former JNU Students Union President belonging to the AISA as to how they can get violent in their protest, he started abusing them and tried to run away in his car with some of his comrades. One of his friends was Aamir, from pro-separatist student leader Umar Khalid’s Organization BASO. They were in such a hurry that they ran over the leg of the G4S guard who was stopping their car. The guard was immediately rushed to AIIMS. His leg is fractured at three places and he has been advised three months bed rest. However, the former JNUSU President’s insensitivity and inhumanity towards the injured guard infuriated the students, who tried to grab him and hand him over to police. Unfortunately, their efforts went in vain as Geeta Kumari and other JNUSU activists outnumbered them and shielded the former president.
The comrades and their allies continued to provoke after indulging in violence. BAPSA activists started raising casteist and provocative slogans such as “Tilak Tarazu aur Talwar inko maaro jute char”. ABVP and Vivekanand Vichar Manch countered such divisive slogans with nationalist slogans such as ‘Jai Bhim, Jai Bharat”, “Tum jativad se todoge, Hum rashtravad se jodenge”.
RL: Did things cool down afterwards?
Eyewitness: Not at all. Since, no action is taken against these goons they roam with impunity. Amidst all the sloganeering, Rahul Sonpimple, a BAPSA leader, threatened to rape a Brahmin girl Shambhavi. He shamelessly threatened to rape girls belonging to the Brahmin varna and went on to say “pandit ladkiyon ka yahin campus me rape karenge”. This time he was shrewd enough to say this in a low voice so that no one could record his statement unlike his earlier mistake of threatening ABVP activists loudly on record saying “Tum ABVP walon ko suar ki tarah katenge”.
RL: What are your future plans to take legal recourse against this violence?
Eyewitness: Let me tell you that we exercised our right to freedom of expression and to assemble peaceably despite the vandalism and hooliganism by the comrades. The movie was screened despite all the obstacles. The ABVP has registered an FIR against this incident at Vasant Kunj (North) Police Station.