University rampage sparks new protests across India

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Students and supporters hold placards as they shout slogans during a protest against an attack on the students and teachers at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus in New Delhi a day before, at Osmania University campus in Hyderabad on January 6, 2020. (AFP)
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Demonstrators attend a protest against attacks on the students of New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), outside the Gateway of India monument in Mumbai, India, January 6, 2020. (REUTERS)
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Updated 07 January 2020

University rampage sparks new protests across India

  • Nobel economy prize winner Abhijeet Banerjee, a former JNU student, said the attacks had "echoes of the years when Germany was moving towards Nazi rule"

NEW DELHI: New Delhi police are investigating how masked men burst into a leading university and attacked student protesters with sticks and rods, an officer said on Monday, the latest incident to ignite criticism of India’s ruling Hindu nationalists.
Sunday’s attack at a university long seen as a bastion of left-wing politics comes as students nationwide lead a campaign against a citizenship law introduced last month by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that is seen as discriminating against Muslims.
“Social media and CCTV footage will be part of the investigation,” said police official Devendra Arya, adding the violence at the university had prompted police to start a case.
Students and some faculty of the Jawaharlal Nehru University have blamed the incident that injured at least 30 people on a students’ union tied to Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party that has increasingly picked on the institution.
Students put out pictures of mobs entering university residential halls, their faces covered with cloth, carrying sticks and even sledgehammers. Some shouted slogans, threatening death for traitors.
Students said police had failed to act, leaving them at the mercy of the mob.
Delhi police said they had launched an investigation.
More than 30 people injured were admitted to the All-India Institute of Medical Science in the capital, a hospital official said, most of them with lacerations, cuts and bruises.
The protests have persisted, with more demonstrations planned across India on Monday, prompted by the university attack.
The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the students’ wing of the BJP, denied accusations that it was behind the attack, which it blamed instead on rival leftist unions.
Authorities faced criticism for failing to rein in the violence on a campus viewed a center of resistance to Modi’s policies, including the abolition last year of special status for Muslim-majority Kashmir.
Amit Thorat, who teaches economics at JNU, said he called the police a little after 7 p.m. on Sunday but they didn’t come until an hour later. Nearly a dozen students Reuters spoke to said police watched as the mob rampaged inside the campus.
“I...hang my head in shame after witnessing video clips of goons merrily entering JNU campus, creating mayhem and grievously injuring innocent students, damaging public property and then exiting the campus,” Rahul Mehra, a lawyer for the Delhi police, said on Twitter.

MEDICAL WORKERS TARGETED
Even medical teams trying to help the injured were attacked, said Harjit Bhatti, former president of the resident doctors’ association at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
“Our team of doctors, nurses & medical volunteers who reached JNU to give first aid to injured students & teachers, was attacked by hundreds of goons,” he said in a tweet. “Mob manhandled doctors, nurses & threatened them. Our ambulance’s glass & windows broken, this is totally inhuman & insane.”
Critics say the Modi administration is trying to crush dissent as it advances a Hindu-first agenda that undermines India’s foundations as a secular democracy.
The citizenship law lays out a path for Indian nationality for minorities from six religious groups in neighboring countries but excludes Muslims.
The government says the law is meant to tackle the grievances of minorities, such as Christians, Hindus and Sikhs, who face persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.


India says it will ‘peacefully resolve’ border stand-off with China

Updated 14 min 10 sec ago

India says it will ‘peacefully resolve’ border stand-off with China

  • Development follows US President’s mediation in the dispute
  • Stand-off began in the first week of May when a scuffle broke out near Pangong Tso Lake

NEW DELHI: After weeks of a border stand-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers in the Himalayan region of Ladakh, New Delhi on Thursday announced it would resolve the matter diplomatically.

“India is engaged with China to peacefully resolve the matter. At the same time we remain firm in our resolve to ensuring India’s sovereignty and national security,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The development follows US President Donald Trump’s mediation in the dispute. In a Twitter post on Wednesday, Trump said, “We have informed both India and China that the United States is ready, willing and able to mediate or arbitrate their now raging border dispute.”

The stand-off began when a scuffle broke out near Pangong Tso Lake in the first week of May. According to Indian reports, Chinese troops set up dozens of tents on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

A few days later, a Chinese patrol was stopped by Indian guards near the Nathula Pass in the Indian state of Sikkim. A troop build-up in the Ladakh and Sikkim areas followed the incidents. Reports suggested that 10,000 Chinese soldiers were sent to the border.

While New Delhi was still blaming China last week for “hindering” Indian patrols at the border, its Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday that “the two sides have established mechanisms both at military and diplomatic levels to resolve situations which may arise in border areas peacefully through dialogue and continue to remain engaged through these channels.”

Foreign policy experts say that in the absence of any concrete information it is difficult to comment on whether any resolution is actually taking place.

“The whole region of Ladakh is undefined, there is no agreed LAC, in some areas they respect each other’s position, and in some areas they don’t, which is the crux of the problem,” Prof. Srikanth Kondapalli, of Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, told Arab News.

“Geopolitical interests of both countries are at the center of the conflict,” Kondapalli said, “For India Ladakh is linked to its sovereignty. India has so many ongoing projects in that area. For China its ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes not far away from the region and connect to the Gwadar port in Pakistan. Besides, once American troops leave Afghanistan and a new regime takes over Kabul this might have its implications in the region.”

Manoj Kewalramani, of the Bangalore-based think tank The Takshashila Institution, said that from a geopolitical perspective both sides need stability at this time and the current situation on the border is not helping either of them.

“Beijing is facing challenges on many fronts, an economic slowdown, tensions with the US, international anger amid the pandemic, protests in Hong Kong, etc.,” he said. “Likewise, New Delhi’s interests lie in managing the COVID-19 outbreak at home and focusing on reviving the economy.”