NSUI members in Vadodara stage a protest after the clash. (Photo: Javed Raja)
A day after clashes broke out between members of National Students Union of India (NSUI) and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) in Paldi of Ahmedabad in which several of them were injured, the state Home Minister Pradipsinh Jadeja transferred the probe to Crime Branch, terming the case as an “attack on ABVP office by NSUI workers who were carrying weapons”.
However, the FIR lodged at Paldi police station reveals that the police have booked members of both NSUI and ABVP for unlawful assembly, rioting with weapons and assault. At least 15 workers of NSUI — Congress’ youth wing, including its general secretary Nikhil Savani, were injured in the clash, while ABVP claimed that its members were also injured.
Police have lodged a “cross” First Information Report (FIR) against both “groups” at Paldi police station for rioting and assault on Wednesday, while not naming anyone as accused.
In a statement released by the office of Home Minister, Jadeja said, “NSUI had attacked the office of ABVP in Paldi area. In the primary investigation by police, it has been revealed that NSUI workers had tried to ‘gherao’ ABVP office and were carrying weapons. They had no permission for this protest and this point is also being probed by the police. During this protest demonstration, Congress and NSUI workers tried to clash with ABVP workers and disrupt law and order in the area. Senior police officials and other personnel quickly reached the spot and controlled the situation and police have on behalf of the state government, turned complainant in the FIR and have lodged various sections. To probe the case diligently and ensure strict action against involved persons, the case has been transferred to the Crime Branch.”
Following the clash, Paldi police filed an FIR on the intervening night of Tuesday and Wednesday under sections 143, 147, 148, 149, 188, 323, 324 for punishment for unlawful assembly, rioting, rioting with deadly weapon, unlawful assembly, disobedience to order given by public servant, assault and causing hurt by dangerous weapon respectively against both 20-25 workers of both NSUI and ABVP. The accused section and content details of the FIR do not name any worker of both the groups.
Clash broke out between the two groups around 11.45 am on Tuesday when NSUI workers went to ‘gherao’ the office of ABVP in Paldi, in solidarity with the students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi who were attacked by masked men, allegedly ABVP workers, on Sunday.
The FIR, written by BS Rabari, in charge of Paldi police station, said that workers of both NSUI and ABVP carried weapons such as iron rods and sticks and defied order against unlawful assembly at the site. “Around 11.45 am, we received information that around 20-25 workers of NSUI are headed towards ABVP office in Paldi and they had no permission for a protest or a demonstration. When we reached the site, we saw the workers of NSUI and ABVP assaulting each other after which the police dispersed them. Both the parties indulged in unlawful assembly and carried weapons in their hands,” said Rabari, in his complaint in the FIR.
The Home Minister also accused the Congress of misleading the minority community in Gujarat on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC). “The decisions of CAA, NRC and Article 370 have been taken for the welfare of minorities, however, the Congress has been spreading the message that these acts are against the minority and misleading them. First Congress workers attacked a police van in Gandhinagar, then their corporator attacked policemen in Shah e Alam area and then they attacked ABVP office in Paldi and it is clear that Congress wants to disrupt law and order in the state,” said Jadeja.
On Wednesday afternoon, Congress workers, including Amit Chavda, president of Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) protested at the Gujarat University by staging a sit-in.
“I am at the hospital. It has been over 24 hours since an attack on me and yet police have not lodged any FIR against the attackers. Instead they are forcing me to remove the name of Rutvij Patel, president of Bharatiya Janta Yuva Morcha (BJYM) from my complaint (sic),” said Nikhil Savani, general secretary, NSUI.
Leaders detained in Vadodara
Leaders of the city Congress unit and the National Students Union of India (NSUI), including city Congress president Prashant Patel and leader of Opposition in the Vadodara Municipal Corporation Chandrakant Srivastava, were detained on Wednesday for demonstrating against the violence in JNU and Ahmedabad on Tuesday. They were released later in the evening.
On Wednesday, heavy police force was deployed in the area. As soon as the protesters arrived, they were denied permission and their vehicles were seized. Permission was later granted for a silent dharna on condition that no slogans were raised or banners displayed, after the senior Congress leaders asked for the Commissioner of Police’s intervention. After speaking to the Commissioner of Police over the phone, a senior police official present at the site told this newspaper, “They have been granted permission for now but only till they maintain decorum.”
While initially, the party leaders and other members were granted permission to sit on a dharna at the Dairy Den circle, which is exactly opposite the MS University campus, they were detained immediately after they raised slogans and released black balloons as a sign of protest.
“This is completely unfair that no permissions are granted for silent protests in the city. ABVP and BJP are on an attacking spree, first in JNU and now in Ahmedabad. We want to ask the police if they are giving permission only for violence and not silent protests. They are acting as puppets in the hands of the government and curbing all voices of dissent,” Patel said.
DCP, Zone 1, Deepak Meghani said, “They did not have permission. We were informed that the agitation may cause law and order problem so we had to deny. We received an application but it was not complying with the parameters under which permission could be granted. Also in the name of agitation, some anti-social elements try to create problem. Besides, there were some intelligence inputs as well which I am not supposed to divulge. This is the main University area, which is sensitive and any issue here can lead to a major law and order problem, so permission was denied.”