A day after students and staff of the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology were heckled by BJP Yelahanka MLA SR Vishwanath and his group along with a few local residents, the students have put out a statement asking why there was so much of hatred directed towards them.
On 14 January, the MLA and a group of people went to the college and threatened students of legal action over graffiti outside the college. A graffiti that said 'Sab Changa si,' had been painted outside the college, which the BJP alleged was disrespectful to PM Narendra Modi. The group also threatened the college students over vehicles parked outside the college, and mocked the length of the students’ clothing.
In the statement, the students say that Srishti has always tried to work with the community, and are they shocked at the backlash.
“We ask openly, is your hatred towards us really because of the length of our skirts, scribbles on walls or the fact that we occupy parking space? What is really bothering you? What are you angry about? Let's talk about it, let's navigate this nonviolently, and continue doing what we do best to question, converse, listen and create.”
The MLA's men had painted over the graffiti after confronting the guards and staff at the college. The same day, members of RSS, VHP and other pro-Hindu groups had painted over graffiti at Church Street in Bengaluru. On Monday night, two unknown persons had painted graffiti against the BJP, Modi and CAA all over Church street.
Reacting to this, the students said, "A group of men complained about their sentiments being hurt because of a certain piece of public art and they painted over the said controversial artwork and other street art in saffron. This censoring and saffronisation of street art has happened all across the city of Bangalore on this day."
The students also alleged that other than moral policing them, the MLA and his group threatened them. "The people accompanying the MLA started heckling and verbally abusing students claiming that we dress inappropriately and that our behaviour is Anti-Indian. This was also followed by a threat physical violence and safety of students. Comments such as 'Enthentha batte hakondthare hodi nam kaill nodak agala. Avar appa amman mundenu hege batte hakothara" were shouted at us, translating to "look at the clothes they wear we can't bear to see people in such clothing, do they dress like that around their parents too?'".
The statement also quoted the BJP MLA's veiled threat to the students wherein he said, "If we wanted to be aggressive we could have and they would not have withstood us."
The statement by the students also explained what transpired on Tuesday. "On the 14 of January 2020, Tuesday, a politically motivated group of people under the BJP MLA S.R. Vishwanath, Yelahanka MLA and CM's Political Secretary stormed the main gate of Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, NS Campus. They started picking up student vehicles, parked on the road outside the main gate and threatened to take them to the Yelahanka New Town Traffic Police Station. Srishti, as an institute and community have been active citizens of Yelahanka for over 20 years and have coexisted without much trouble for all these years."
They expressed alarm at the manner in which students were threatened.
“Considering that the larger majority of students in this institute are women, Srishti students have faced several other challenges within the neighbourhood, however have managed to work things out in a participatory way. Our students and faculty have always striven to ensure well-being for the people of Yelahanka. It is therefore alarming when statements threatening violence against our students are being vocalized openly.” The college had declared a two-day holiday following the incident.