AHMEDABAD: At least a dozen people were injured yesterday in fresh clashes between student groups loyal to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and opponents with the main opposition Congress party, police said. Student politics has turned ugly in recent weeks over several issues, including a new citizenship law, heavy-handed police tactics and hikes in university fees.
The latest confrontation, in Modi’s home state, came two days after attackers rampaged through a Delhi university, leaving 34 injured and sparking nationwide protests. Critics and media reports blamed the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), a student body linked to Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, for the violence on Sunday evening at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). Police reportedly stood by and did nothing to stop the attack, while videos purportedly from the scene showed masked men swinging batons as students screamed in terror.
Police in Gujarat state in western India said fresh violence broke out on Tuesday when members of the Congress-affiliated National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) held a protest outside the ABVP’s offices. “Some 10 to 12 people have been injured in the clash,” K N Damor, deputy commissioner of Ahmedabad police, told journalists. One unverified but widely shared video suggests members of the ABVP chasing and hitting an NSUI activist with sticks.
The ABVP accused the NSUI of instigating the clashes. Beyond universities, almost a month of violent protests across the country against the new citizenship law has left more than 25 people dead.
The law speeds up citizenship claims from persecuted minorities from Islamic-majority Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, but not if they are Muslim. Combined with a mooted citizens register, it has stoked fears that Modi wants to remold India as a Hindu nation and marginalize its 200 million Muslims, something he denies.
Delhi police fought street battles with JNU students in November after protests broke out over fee increases at the top university. Student organizations dominated by left-wingers have since staged demonstrations demanding a rollback of the fee increase, while facing accusations of obstructing administration officials. – AFP