SFI alleges ABVP attack on south Indian students for wearing dhoti in Delhi

According to the North Delhi unit of the Students Federation of India (SFI), the three attackers were members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the students’ wing of the BJP.
Assaulted students
Assaulted students

Four south Indian students were allegedly attacked in front of the Daulat Ram College in Delhi for wearing dhotis. The North Delhi Unit of the Students Federation of India (SFI), the student wing of the CPI(M), has alleged that the three attackers were members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the BJP. The alleged incident took place on the morning of November 2, Wednesday, when the four students were on their way to their accommodations.

The attacked students were Vishnu from Shri Ram College of Commerce, Gautham Gopal and Akhil Jayamohan from Hindu College, and James Savio from Jamia Millia Islamia University. Recounting the attack to TNM, Vishnu said, “Early morning, around 4.30 am, the four of us had gone out to have tea. I was wearing a coloured lungi. Three people on a motorbike approached us, made fun of me and passed. A little later they came back and hit me on the head using a belt. My friends were also beaten up when they tried to protect me. My eyes were severely injured. The others have bruises all over their bodies. We were in the hospital for a day.”

A statement issued by the SFI alleged that the attackers were drunk, and that the students were further assaulted when they tried to take a photo of the motorbike on which they arrived. The statement says that the attackers made comments such as “This is not the place for you to wear such stuff” and “This is from DUSU [Delhi University Students Union] for you people.” Vishnu further said, “While they were attacking us, they showed us a hand band claiming they are part of DUSU.” It is this hand band that had seemingly led the SFI to assume the perpetrators were members of the ABVP. “But we are not sure who they were,” Vishnu said, further alleging that the police were not ready to file a First Information Report (FIR), even though they accepted the complaint.

TNM made multiple attempts to contact DUSU president and ABVP state secretary Akshit Dahiya in connection with the incident, but did not receive a response.

Wednesday’s attack on south Indian students is not an isolated incident, SFI alleged in its statement, drawing attention to the “marks jihad” comment made by a professor at the Kirori Mal College in October last year. The professor had insinuated a conspiracy claiming that many students from the Kerala board had received 100% marks in their higher secondary examinations, leading to their “over-admission” in the University. Rakesh Kumar Pandey, the professor who made the Islamophobic comment in a Facebook post, is a leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-backed teachers’ organisation National Democratic Teachers Front (NDTF). The comment had stirred up a controversy, with leaders of the Congress and the CPI(M) alleging that it exposed an anti-Kerala bias.

The SFI also alleged that south Indian students have faced bullying and attacks by right-wing forces on multiple instances, adding that the harassment even included the denial of accommodation for non-natives of Delhi in the north campus. Stating that the DUSU “has always been inefficient in addressing the hate crimes that occur frequently in the campus”, it demanded immediate action from the authorities on the matter.

ABVP had won three out of four key positions in the DUSU elections in 2019-20. Following Covid-19, no elections were conducted in the two years after that, allowing the 2019-20 office bearers to hold office for three consecutive years.

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