Students unions associated with the Congress and BJP clashed in Bengaluru and six people were arrested on Thursday, following a television debate on Hyderabad Dalit PhD scholar Rohith Vemula’s death.
Members of the National Students Union of India, which is affiliated with the Congress, staged a protest in front of the ABVP office in the city, against remarks made by an ABVP activist during a debate on Rohith Vemula’s suicide hosted by a Kannada news channel.
NSUI general secretary Cyril Prabhu, who was among the protesters, alleged that during the discussion on the news channel, an ABVP activist claimed that Dalit students in Hyderabad University were involved terrorist activities and were also Naxals.
“We wanted to show our agitation and 25 people, including NSUI members, college students and cadres of other groups, staged a protest in front of ABVP office in the city. We held a silent protest with placards and banners,” Prabhu said.
“The protest blew up into a fight after someone from the crowd or one of the bystanders threw a stone at their office. But none of the NSUI members who threw the stone,” he added.
ABVP, state general secretary, Akash A told The News Minute that there were only five people in the office when the protest started at around11:15 am. The NSUI activists attacked them when their member Prashant asked the protesters to leave the place, Akash alleged.
“Some were local goondas working for Congress. Others included college students, who didn’t even know what they were protesting for. It was all pre-planned,” Akash said.
“They first threw a stone which agitated us. When we reacted by asking them to leave, they hit us with sticks. During the fight I was injured on my chest,” said Prashanth.
Akash said that after they left to the police station to file a complaint, 50 more people allegedly came and vandalised their property.
However, Prabhu denied the Akash’s allegations that they vandalised their property. “We did not throw any stones or indulge in violence. They themselves damaged parts of their office, tore one the member’s shirts and hit him, so that they have proof for their fake accusations,” he said.
Amer Javed, NSUI Karnataka state in-charge said that we did not expect them to react with violence. “In fact from what I have heard NSUI members were hit more than they were. ABVP members had an upper hand in this case because the protest happened in front of their office. So it was easy for them make the police believe that they were the vulnerable lot,” he said.
Asked why they chose to protest in front of ABVP office, instead take a safer move by protesting at Town Hall area, Prabhu said, “The police also asked us the same this. But it is a democratic situation that we can protest wherever, but it does not mean one responds with violence.”
According to Sheshadripuram police, two ABVP members have been injured and six NSUI workers have been booked by the Sheshadripuram police. NSUI general secretary Cyril Prabhu, assembly co-ordinator Santhosh Kumar, state secretary Kirti Ganesh, Bengaluru district vice-president Jayandra Shahi, state vice-president Sri Krishna, have been booked under various sections of IPC including criminal intimidation and assault.