Mumbai: Left-inclined student factions target apolitical IIT-B to spread wings

Members from like-minded organisations to sit on day-long hunger strike outside the main gate today; rival ABVP launches social media drive as counter measure

One might wonder what has the ongoing turmoil in the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) got to do with the apolitical campuses of Mumbai? If one pays close attention, the picture becomes clear: rebirth of campus politics in the state. And to ensure that it happens, students supporting both Left and Right ideologies are leaving no stone unturned.

Poster on today’s hunger strike outside IIT-B main gate
Poster on today’s hunger strike outside IIT-B main gate

The latest venture in this game is the day-long hunger strike called by the Left-inclined students’ wings outside the IIT-B campus today to protest against the penalty imposed on JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar by the varsity two weeks ago. Members from AISF, All India Students Association (AISA) and Students Federation of India (SFI), among others, will be part of this protest.

Shambuk Uday, vice-president for AISF (Maharashtra) and Aniket Ovhal, ABVP Mumbai head
Shambuk Uday, vice-president for AISF (Maharashtra) and Aniket Ovhal, ABVP Mumbai head

Speaking to mid-day, Shambuk Uday, vice president for AISF (Maharashtra), said, “Students from across India are showing support to Kanhaiya and other student leaders with similar ideologies. This event outside the IIT-B gate is the way of expressing solidarity of Mumbai students with him. While 10 student members will sit on a day-long hunger strike, numerous others will turn up to support them.

Explaining the choice of venue (IIT-B), which has taken an apolitical stand so far, Shambuk said the massive fee hike by the government is one of the several undemocratic policies they would be voicing their dissent against and so IIT-B made the perfect place to commence the agitation.

“One can clearly see what has happened at varsities like Hyderabad, JNU and Allahabad to name a few. So we chose this venue, which falls directly under the MHRD, so that students can voice their opinions against the fee hike,” he added.

Counter measure
Simultaneously, Right-inclined students’ wings, such as Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), are busy conducting activities and campaigns to counter the pro-Kanhaiya protests, for which they have roped in JNU student leader Saurabh Sharma. ABVP has embarked on a social media campaign, wherein its members are uploading their pictures holding a placard that reads #I Stand With Saurabh.

Explaining their initiative, Aniket Ovhal, ABVP Mumbai head, said, “Considering the ongoing exams, we decided to initiate a social media campaign because participation won’t consume much time. But once the exams conclude, agitations and protests have been planned across Mumbai, for which the groundwork is being done through this social media campaign.”

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