Leftist student group blamed for JNU attack

Source:AFP Published: 2020/1/6 20:08:40

Opposition leader links brawl to ruling BJP

Dozens were hurt at a prestigious Indian university on Sunday in what police said were clashes between rival student groups but which an opposition politician blamed on a student organization linked to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses his Bharatiya Janata Party's rally in New Delhi, India, on Dec. 22, 2019. Narendra Modi on Sunday refuted allegations that his government is discriminatory in the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which has triggered massive protests nationwide. Photo:Xinhua

Unverified videos on social media appeared to show a group of several masked attackers roaming the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus in New Delhi wielding batons as students screamed. 

"Today evening, two groups clashed with each other and some students are injured," a senior Delhi police officer told journalists.

"The university administration has requested the police to enter [the campus]," the officer said, adding, "things are under control right now." 

Sitaram Yechury, general secretary of the Communist Party of India, called the attack a "collusion" between the JNU administration and "goons" of a student group linked to Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

"It is a planned attack by those in power, which is afraid of the resistance provided by JNU," Yechury said.

The BJP distanced itself from the incident and Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student organisation blamed for the violence by the opposition, said that 25 of its members were injured during the campus attack. 

"This is a desperate attempt by forces of anarchy, who are determined to use students as cannon fodder, [to] create unrest to shore up their shrinking political footprint. Universities should remain places of learning and education," the BJP said on Twitter.

An official at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi said that most of the injured at the hospital were undergoing treatment for "lacerations, cuts and bruises." 

"The brutal attack on JNU students & teachers by masked thugs, that has left many seriously injured, is shocking," tweeted Rahul Gandhi, a leading politician of the main opposition Congress party.

The incident is the latest in a series of violent clashes that have killed at least two dozen people amid protests over a controversial new citizenship law Modi's government passed in December. 

The law allows New Delhi to grant expedited citizenship to minorities from three neighboring Islamic countries who entered India by December 31, 2014, but critics say it marginalizes Muslims in the country as part of Modi's larger Hindu nationalist agenda.

The Delhi police last fought street battles with JNU students in November after protests broke out over fee increases at the top university.

JNU student organizations dominated by leftists have since staged demonstrations demanding a rollback of the fee increase while facing accusations of obstructing administration officials.


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