Several students, who gathered at the Jawaharlal Nehru University students’ union office for a screening of a controversial BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, claimed the varsity administration cut power and internet to stop the event, and staged a protest after stones were thrown on them.
They claimed that they were attacked when they were watching the documentary on their mobile-phones as the screening could not be held. Some alleged that the attackers were members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), a charge the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated student body denied.
Later in the night, raising slogans of “Inqlaab Zinadabad” and against the Jawaharlal Nehru University =administration, the protesting students marched to the Vasant Kunj police station to lodge a complaint against the “stone pelters”.
On the power cut at the campus, a JNU administration official, requesting anonymity told PTI, “There is a major (power) line fault at the university. We are looking into it. The engineering department is saying it will be resolved at the earliest.”
There was no immediate official response from the JNU administration to the allegations and claims of the students. It had on Monday in an advisory said that the union had not taken its permission for the event and it should be cancelled, warning of strict disciplinary action.
However, the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union earlier in the day in a statement had said that there is no intention to create any form of disharmony through the screening of the documentary or movie.
It also sought a clarification from the administration regarding rules which mandate that prior permission is required for screening of any film or documentary on the university premises
JNU-All India Students Association (AISA) secretary Madhurima said, “Some students had seen ABVP activists pelting stones and recognised them.”
She added that “also, a teacher had called sometime back (informing) that there were some goons, wearing masks, around the main gate and were talking about weapons.”
The ABVP denied the allegation, saying they were not present at the spot. “We did not go the spot and no one from us (the students’ body) was there. They are just taking our names to get more coverage,” ABVP Delhi media convenor Ambuj told PTI.
On the screening not taking place, AISA national president N Sai Balaji, who was present at the spot, said, “They (the JNU administration) have cut off the power and internet.”
He said students had downloaded the documentary on their mobile-phones through an application to watch and share it.
Asrar Ahmed, who had gone for the screening said, “We were watching the documentary peacefully (on our phones) but some people threw stones at us. As it was dark, the people who threw the stones could not be identified.”
However, a senior police officer said that no stone pelting incident was reported to police.
“The JNUSU organised a screening of the documentary. However, the JNU administration said no prior information was given for the event. No such permission is required before such an event. They cut the power supply and stones were pelted on students who were watching the documentary on their phones,” student activist Qasim said.
“There is an atmosphere of fear on the university campus. We tried to mobilise students towards the gate but goons were there too. So, we decided to march towards the police station demanding that electricity be restored,” he said.