Members of North-East Students’ Forum (NESF) during their silent march on August 29 at JNU campus, New Delhi. (Photo: With special arrangement)
ABVP’s ‘Ishan Uday – Bridging the Heart’ turns into major row
Morung Express News
Dimapur | August 30
The North-East Students’ Forum (NESF) observed a ‘Silent Protest March’ on August 29 demanding written apology from Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), Jawaharlal Nehru University for allegedly humiliating “Northeast Community” during a public talk inside the campus on August 28.
With the slogan, “Enough Is Enough: No More Secondary Citizens,” the students, with their mouth covered with black clothes, marched from varsity’s Ganga Dhaba to Chandrabhaga Hostel demanding, “A written apology in public by ABVP to the Northeast community in JNU.”
The centre of the controversy is the invitation of three Northeast BJP Chief Ministers – Sarbananda Sonowal (Assam), Pema Khandu (Arunanchal Pradesh) and N Biren Singh (Manipur) for a public talk called ‘Ishan Uday – Bridging the Heart’ by ABVP at Koyna Hostel, JNU.
The talk came 24 hours after JNU’s election committee made the announcement for the university election slated on September 14.
While other student organisations in the varsity accused the student wing of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) of flaunting their “proximity to power,” the ABVP-JNU was accused of allegedly humiliating “Northeast Community” by curtailing their voices during the talk.
Narrating the incident, Honjem, a Naga researcher in JNU observed, “In what can be termed best as an orchestrated event, the ABVP would not allow students of Northeast India and particularly of Assam, Arunachal and Manipur to meet their own CMs.”
“To make it even worse, the ABVP cadres labelled the students as Naxalites or belonging to one or the other rival political party. Later, they denied having said anything like that. This is not a new thing though. This is a party made up of people without principles and integrity,” he added.
Another Naga scholar in JNU’s School of International Studies said, “Some students wanted to raise their concerns about their state but they were out rightly denied. After all the commotion, the ABVP realizing their foolish act came requesting us to join the event but on the condition that no pamphlets can be distributed to the CM and that no placards can be taken inside the hall.”
According a statement from the NESF, while many students of these three states “who wanted to voice out their concerns about this particular event and also raise their own regional grievances to their respective chief ministers gathered outside the Hostel, in anticipation of their arrival with their own placards and posters.”
However, while they silently stood with placards, the ABVP welcomed their guests with “their own chorus of slogans.”
“Once the guests entered and we (the students of North East) wanted to enter the Koyna Mess, were blocked right at the gate by the ABVP representatives working alongside the security guards,” they alleged.
The students had also prepared a parcha defining why have they had come with their silent protest voluntarily but they were “forcibly stopped from “distributing inside the mess.”
According to the Forum’s statement terms like ‘Naxalites’ and ‘security threats’ were thrown at them.
The NE students, thereafter, collectively decided to sit down “outside the event and to continue with our silent protest.”
A few representatives of ABVP came outside to tell us that they will “allow us inside but without our posters which were our signs of resistance. It was then that we collectively demanded an apology from the ABVP for calling us names,” the statement said.
At a General Body Meeting held on spot after the event, “the students from Northeast gave a collective call for the silent protest march under the banner of Northeast Students’ Forum (NESF), JNU,” it added.
Meanwhile, a statement posted by Assam Study Circle, JNU on its Facebook page and through pamphlet titled “ABVP Must Apologise to the Students from Northeast in JNU” noted that the talk “instead of bridging any hearts, the event ended up exposing the revolting prejudice, chauvinism and bigotry inherent within ABVP against people from India’s north-east.”
A posting on August 29 from the Circle informed that thousand common students marched silently and peacefully in JNU, protesting “against the hooliganism and the blatant prejudice displayed by ABVP against the students from India’s Northeast.”
The National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) and Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and others organizations in the campus, expressing solidarity, participated in the “Silent March.”
Meanwhile, on its Facebook page and pamphlet defending the incident, the ABVP-JNU noted that, “the comrades are cooking up stories on a very predictable line” and using the same terms “being used by the AISA, SFI, DSF and other such organisations.”
“Any attempt by them to put words in the mouth of the North East students will completely fail,” it said.
It also dismissed the concerns raised by the NESF stating, “Far more number of North-Eastern Students were present in our Programme.”
They called the protester as a “group of self-motivated and pre-election agenda driven students.”