The chaotic scenes witnessed outside Delhi University on Saturday on day one of the two-day seminar by a right-wing research organization on Ram Janma Bhoomi Temple in Ayodhya didn't surprise anyone.
The seminar held at University's Faculty of Arts department had brought out students from various unions to protest against what they called "saffronization" of academics and the preparatory ground for "communal" politics.
On Saturday morning, the Guru Tegh Bahadur Road, which cuts through the university, clearly reflected the ideological divide between the supporters of the seminar and those opposing it.
While large contingents of police had already camped outside the gate to disallow the protesting students to storm the seminar venue, reinforcements were called in to put up a security-shield outside the venue where several high-profile right-wing leaders and members including BJP leader Subramanian Swamy were participating. Even the media-persons weren't allowed for sometime.
The protesting students belonged to various Left-affiliated student wings AISA, DSF, SFI, KYS and Congress-affiliate NSUI.
The two-day seminar titled "Shri Ram Janma Bhoomi Temple: Emerging Scenario" is being organised at DU’s Arts Faculty by Arundhati Vashishtha Anusandhan Peeth (AVAP), an organization founded by late Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader and architect of Ram Temple movement Ashok Singhal.
But not all the students were against the seminar. Inside the seminar venue, dozens of students and activists - mostly belonging to Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) - donning saffron robes and kurtas with seminar-registration identity cards hanging in their necks, were actively listening to the speakers who were extolling on the virtues and significance of the birth place of Hindu god Ram. A few of them also chanted 'Jai Shri Ram' after a thundering statement was made.
"We are trying to exert pressure on the government to support the construction of Ram Temple," Piyush, a young RSS activist and a student of law at DU told ScoopWhoop outside the conference hall.
Referring to the slogans and protests, that were continuing outside the gate, Piyush remarked "all of them want media publicity to draw political mileage from the event."
"There's nothing wrong with holding a seminar about an issue that concerns majority of the people in the India. When these guys can organise seminars on Naxalite movements and other issues, what's wrong with this?", Piyush asked.
Almost similar kinds of views were expressed by senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy in his inaugural address at the two-day seminar, who termed the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya as "mandatory for revival of our culture."
While vowing to "not give up", Swamy, who is also the chairman of AVAP, made it clear that "nothing will be done forcibly or against the law." Asking opposition Congress to support their demand, Swamy also said that former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had also promised him of support in construction of the Ram temple.
Countering Swamy's argument, Jeetu, a student who is studying Persian at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) said, "the idea behind seminar is divisive and communal."
"Be it Gujarat or Babri Masjid demolition, nothing has fractured India more than the idea of communalism behind it," Jeetu, who had come to join the protest from JNU in South Delhi, further added.
"There's a big difference between history and mythology. The fundamental basis of their ideology is based on myth and not facts. Academics as well as students need to learn this," he added.
What's wrong with holding the seminar?
"There's nothing wrong with holding a seminar but the intention of the seminar should not be declarative and something that can be forced on someone. If you check the pamphlets and press releases of AVAP, they are pretty brazen about constructing the Ram temple without even introspecting and debating the issue on a scientific and factual basis," a student (name withheld) from Ambedkar University told ScoopWhoop.
The student also added that the nature of government is also revealed with how it has allowed an event like this to take place in a university.
"You need to look at the chain of events: arrangement of stones for construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya, elections in Uttar Pradesh and now using students to be part of the communal politics for votes," Jeetu added.
Since the rise of right-wing BJP government at the centre, students have actively participated in resisting 'saffronisation' said Shruti, a DU student.
"This seminar is an attempt to infiltrate the spaces available at University-levels to further the agenda of communal politics," she said. "We will resist it."
Here's the video of the protests:
Feature image source: ScoopWhoop