A day after a video surfaced of an altercation involving students of Jyothi Nivas College and BJP workers in Bengaluru, TNM spoke to students and shopkeepers who witnessed the incident on Wednesday.
According to multiple accounts, BJP youth workers were holding a gathering in support of the Citizenship Amendment Act at the college and had stuck a pro-CAA banner on the college wall at some point in the noon. The banner featured pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa and Lok Sabha MP Tejasvi Surya.
Around 2.30 pm on Wednesday, when the first batch of students was leaving the college, they noticed the banner stuck on the wall. A few students were even asked to sign the banner.
A PU-II student, who wished to remain anonymous, said until this point, the situation was normal. She said she came to know of the incident only through social media channels after the video of the men and the students involved in an altercation went viral.
Several students objected to the banner on the college wall, but the BJP workers retaliated. In the video, one man is heard saying, âYou are not concerned about citizenship, you are concerned about yourselfâŚ you are not Indians.â
Videos of the incident showed that the altercation almost escalated to physical jostling between the BJP men and the female students.
A fruit seller, stationed on the street in the vicinity, said around 3 pm, some students of the degree college objected to the banner. âFrom the start itself, the BJP workers were being very aggressive and wanted to scare the girls away. But that did not work,â he said.
One group of students told TNM that when they objected to the banner being stuck, they were asked if they had a problem with the law itself.
âWhen we wanted to explain our position on CAA and tell them they cannot impose their views on us or the college, they started asking us personally. They called us âuneducatedâ and said we are not concerned about citizenship. They saw some of us were Muslims and then they told us to go to Pakistan,â one of the students in the group told TNM.
Another student, who was witness to the incident, said, âThey just started shouting and abusing us. This is not the right way to speak to students. They then wanted us to sign the pro-CAA banner. How can they force us to do that? They also got agitated when some of us said we donât support NRC and CAA and shouted slogans. That is when they started attacking us personally.â
Manasa (name changed), another student, told TNM that at this point, the fight had escalated and a crowd had gathered, leading the college administration to intervene. She also came along with some students, professors and the PU college principal.
âAt this point, they were arguing that we, as students, donât have the right to object to what is being put on the walls of our college. First, they said âbring your professors, we will talkâ and when they (professors) were there, they asked for the police to decide if they can hang the banner on our wall or not,â Manasa recalled.
She added, âThey were trying to scare us to silence. They had even shouted at our professors. But we were not going to give in. Our professors and administrative staff told us to disperse fearing for our safety. As we were leaving, the police had arrived.â
She alleged that while the police saw the BJP workers in the act, they refused to intervene. Instead, she said, the police were keen to escort the students out of the area while the BJP workers remained near the wall where the banner was hung.
Manasa further noted that the police forced the BJP workers to remove the banner only after 15 minutes âwhen many of us had dispersed. They even had tea with them.â
A professor, who had also come out to intervene, confirmed that there was selective targetting of Muslim students as they could be identified through their burqas. âThere were many people gathered around the place. But keeping in mind the studentsâ safety, we asked all students to disperse. But we are afraid as many of our students live in PG accommodations in the vicinity,â the professor said.
When asked if there was any legal action taken against the BJP workers, Koramangala Inspector Sashidhar said the police will follow due process if and when a complaint is filed. He confirmed no complaint had been filed as of Thursday evening.