I Am A Professor. This Is How I Was Beaten Up At Ramjas

Yesterday was meant to be Day 2 of the conference on "Culture of Protest" at Ramjas College. The conference on Day 1 (Tuesday) was cancelled because of elements from outside who did not want this conference to take place because of certain speakers. I heard there was stone-pelting and that people were beaten up on Tuesday. All this happened while the conference was on. I wasn't there. 

I came to know of all this from social media and via colleagues. That's when I decided to go to Ramjas College yesterday to show solidarity with the people who were in favour of the conference. It was a five-minute walk from my faculty. It was 1:30 pm when I reached the college and saw that the gates had been blocked by some people. There was a police van too and about 150 protesters in favour of the conference, who were shouting slogans like "ABVP, go back", "our campus is a free campus", "leave our campus alone."
 
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JNU's Umar Khalid, named in a sedition case a year ago, was supposed to speak at an event organised by Ramjas College students

I was at the back, standing in solidarity with students and teachers from other colleges. There was a group of people right behind us. We don't know if they were students. 5-6 of them started hitting and kicking people around me. They were moving ahead and then I got hit with a carton. I turned back to try and retaliate, but a group of 10-12 people cordoned me off. They were young boys, but some of them didn't look like students. They started hitting me with bare hands. I was wearing a muffler with which they tried to strangle me. They hit and kicked me for 10 minutes. They were shouting expletives in Hindi. The police was right there, watching all this and did nothing. There were a total of 100 hooligans there. 

Finally, some colleagues and students came to my rescue. These hooligans then starting running away. The police did not stop them. I was taken to the hospital where I met more people who had been beaten up. I was badly hurt and in no condition to speak. My colleagues had asked the police "Aap kuch karte kyun nahin? (why don't you intervene)" but the police kept mum. I wanted to go back to the college but my body didn't allow me to. I was in pain. Now there are bruises all over me and I can barely walk. The joint pains will take a long time to go.
 
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Clashes outside Ramjas College amid protests over invitation to Umar Khalid to speak at the "Culture of Protest" conference

The college was a war-zone yesterday. So many people were roughed up, beaten. Bottles were thrown, there was complete chaos. All this went on till late in the night. It looked like a battleground. A lot of my students too were beaten up. They came to see me and narrated their stories.  

The character of Delhi University has changed in the last 2-3 years. The tension has been there (all along) but yesterday was the trigger. Delhi University seems like a fortress these days. It's no longer a normal campus. There is intolerance. The two students from JNU should have been allowed to speak at Ramjas. They were going to talk about academic issues. They had come for a conference, not for a dharna.

What happened is extremely unfortunate. 

(Prasanta Chakravarty is with the English department at the Arts Faculty, Delhi University.)

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