Attackers beat students at Indian university

NEW DELHI (AP) — Masked assailants beat students and teachers with sticks on the campus of a prestigious university in India’s capital, injuring more than 20 people in an attack opposition lawmakers are trying to link to the government.

Videos that emerged after the assault late on Sunday showed people in masks roaming inside the corridors of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and beating students who were protesting against a fee hike.

Most of the injured were treated at a hospital for cuts and bruises, said Aarti Vij, a spokeswoman at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

New Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik said the incident was a clash between rival student groups.

Opposition parties and injured students blamed the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, a student organisation linked to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party.

Police arrive at the Jawaharlal Nehru University after masked assailants beat students and teachers with sticks in New Delhi, India. PHOTO: AP

“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,” tweeted Rahul Gandhi, a leading politician from the main opposition Congress party.

Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, which includes students at JNU, released a statement saying they didn’t start last Sunday’s violence and insisted their members were attacked first by students with links to communist groups.

Communist-linked student organisations at the university have led recurring protests against the fee increase, which went into effect last November. Opponents said the fee hike makes education too expensive for many.

Surya Prakash, a 25-year-old research scholar at JNU’s Sanskrit school, said yesterday that he had been brutally beaten in the attack. He said he cried out to his attackers that he is blind, but the beating continued anyway.

“They first broke the door and windows of the room and barged inside and hit my head with a rod,” Prakash said in his dorm room.

One floor up from Prakash, above the dorm warden’s residence, students said two Kashmiri students living in adjacent rooms were targetted. While the attackers used a fire extinguisher to ram one door open, one student climbed over his balcony into the room next door while another jumped onto the ground below, sustaining an injury, according to Mukesh Kumar, a research scholar who lives across the hall.

An ambulance carrying injured people off campus was attacked by a group of men with sticks while police stood by, several bystanders told The Associated Press.

Yesterday, the shattered window exposed a room in disarray, with shards of glass and wood. Next door, the room was also littered with broken glass, a cup of tea and a cellphone left on the desk.

Students said the masked attackers also entered women’s wings in the dorms.

Geeta Thatra, a 32-year-old history student, described the incident, saying she could see people wearing masks enter the dorms and scream “beat them up”.