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.


Russia warns Belarus will pay price for contractors’ arrests

Updated 05 August 2020

Russia warns Belarus will pay price for contractors’ arrests

  • Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, said that the Belarusian leadership has turned bilateral ties into “small change in the election campaign”
  • Medvedev described the arrested contractors as part of a “simple political technology — to create an enemy image and to achieve a political result using that enemy image”

MOSCOW: Russia’s security chief described the arrest of 33 Russian private military contractors in Belarus as a presidential campaign stunt and warned Wednesday that it would have grave consequences for ties between the two neighbors and allies.
Authorities arrested the Russian contractors outside the capital of Minsk last week on charges of planning to stage mass riots, amid an upsurge of opposition protests ahead of the Sunday election — in which Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is seeking a sixth term.
Russia has demanded the release of the contractors for a private firm, saying they only were in Belarus because they missed a connecting flight to another country. The government in Minsk has further irked Moscow by raising the possibility that some of the contractors could be handed over to Ukraine, which wants them on charges of fighting alongside Russia-backed separatists.
Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, sharply raised the stakes in the dispute Wednesday, saying that the Belarusian leadership has turned bilateral ties into “small change in the election campaign.”
Without mentioning Lukashenko by name, Medvedev described the arrested contractors as part of a “simple political technology — to create an enemy image and to achieve a political result using that enemy image.”
“It’s not only offensive, it’s very sad,” said Medvedev, who served as Russia’s president in 2008-2012 and then as prime minister for the next eight years, before becoming No. 2 in the Security Council chaired by President Vladimir Putin. “And it will entail sad consequences, too.”
Throughout his 26 years in office, the authoritarian Lukashenko has relied on Russian subsidies and loans to shore up his nation’s Soviet-style economy but fiercely resisted Moscow’s push for control over Belarus’s economic assets.
The Kremlin turned the heat up on the Belarusian president earlier this year by withdrawing some of the subsidies and warning the government it would have to accept closer economic and political integration to continue receiving Russian energy at a discount.
Lukashenko denounced Moscow’s position as part of Russia’s alleged efforts to deprive Belarus of its independence.
The 65-year-old president alleged in a state-of-the-nation address on Tuesday that another group of “militants” had been sent to southern Belarus, but gave no details. He warned Moscow against trying to fuel tensions in his country, saying that the instability could spread to Russia.
In a move certain to anger the Kremlin even more, Lukashenko had a phone call Wednesday with the president of Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy asked for Belarus to hand over 28 of the arrested Russians so they can be prosecuted for allegedly fighting alongside Russia-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Belarusian authorities claimed the arrested contractors worked for the Wagner company. The private military firm is linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian businessman who was indicted in the United States for meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.
Wagner has allegedly deployed hundreds of military contractors to eastern Ukraine, Syria and Libya.