Swaraj Abhiyan chief Yogendra Yadav was manhandled outside the main gate of the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, where over 50 masked assailants went on the rampage on Sunday night.
The activist-cum-politician, who is an alumnus of the institution, was allegedly jostled to the ground by unidentified people even as he was condemning the police for preventing the press from entering the campus instead of acting against the attackers behind the closed gates.
Several students and faculty members were assaulted by the group, said to be masked activists of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), and two of the 15 students admitted to the AIIMS trauma centre are reportedly in a critical condition. Students have accused police personnel and security guards on the campus of doing nothing to stop the violence. Doctors claim that the attackers even targeted ambulances that came to take the students to the hospital, shattering their windshields and windows.
"While I was talking to the professors at the gate about the violence inside, a police officer pulled me back. He ordered me to leave because I was apparently 'instigating' the people. Then some people assaulted me, dragging me to the ground, before my companions rescued me. The police just watched," Yogendra Yadav said.
The Swaraj Abhiyan chief said that if the police were unwilling to go to the students' rescue, "they might as well take off their uniforms".
Earlier, a video clip showed JNU Students Union president Aishe Ghosh describing how she was attacked by the "masked goons" with blood streaming down her face. "I have been brutally attacked by goons wearing masks. I have been bleeding. I was brutally beaten up," she said before being rushed to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
Eyewitnesses said the group of assailants went from hostel to hostel, assaulting students and faculty members. The Sabarmati, Kaveri and Periyar hostels were specifically targeted.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who had once rubbed shoulders with Yogendra Yadav during the days of the India Against Corruption campaign, condemned the incident too. "I am so shocked to know about the violence at JNU. Students attacked brutally. Police should immediately stop violence and restore peace. How will the country progress if our students are not safe inside the university campus?" he asked in a tweet.
The attack on the university comes amid an ongoing agitation against a proposed hike in hostel fees, with students boycotting the winter semester registration process. JNU students were also at the forefront of nationwide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.