Protests after masked men attack Indian university
Jawaharlal Nehru University has previously been targeted by group linked to governing Bharatiya Janata party
Students have protested in India after a masked mob stormed a Delhi university and attacked students and teachers with sledgehammers, iron rods and bricks.
At least 40 students and staff of the Jawaharlal Nehru University were hospitalised after the attack, which opposition parties blamed on a student organisation linked to the prime minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party.
The BBC says the university has been “long seen as a bastion of leftwing politics”. The Guardian adds that a student organisation linked to the Bharatiya Janata party has “increasingly targeted the institution”.
Footage shows people in masks prowling inside the corridors of Jawaharlal Nehru University and beating students who were protesting against a hike in student fees.
Aarti Vij, a spokeswoman at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, said most of the injured were treated for cuts and bruises.
The attack has heightened tensions over a nationwide campaign against a citizenship law introduced last month by Modi that is seen as targeting Muslims.
The sweeping change to India’s 64-year-old immigration laws offers undocumented immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan an effective amnesty.
People fleeing these countries will no longer be deported or imprisoned, and can apply for citizenship, but only if they are members of a religious minority.
All three are Muslim majority countries, so the bill applies to Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Sikhs, Jains and Parsees - but not to Muslims.
Rahul Gandhi, a leading politician from the main opposition Congress party said: “The fascists in control of our nation are afraid of the voices of our brave students. Today's violence in JNU is a reflection of that fear.”
The governing party has condemned the violence, with finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, writing on Twitter: “Horrifying images from JNU the place I know and remember was one for fierce debates and opinions but never violence. I unequivocally condemn the events of today.”
Amnesty International said the attack was “not an isolated incident and must be seen amidst the larger pattern of pushback as massive protests continue unabated across the country”.
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