THE assault of the ABVP activists on the department of History of the Delhi University and the manhandling of Professor S Z H Jafri, head of the department, and other acts of violence and vandalism committed by them must shock the entire academic community of the country, stated academicians, intellectuals, activists in a joint statement released by Sahmat. "It is to be underlined that the article objected to by the ABVP was included in the 'reading materials' two years ago, and the raising of the issue only now seems prima-facie motivated, and designed to lend a communal colour to the question. While everyone is entitled to have his own opinion on the rationale or appropriateness of a particular part of the reading materials, such criticism should have been made in a civilized manner and addressed to the proper authorities", it stated.
"If there were any students involved in the assault they should consider if their action has brought honour to their alma mater, one of the premier educational institutions of the country. We hope that authorities in charge of law and order and of discipline at the earliest would take all the necessary measures to ensure that the guilty are punished".
The signatories to the statement were: R S Sharma, D N Jha, V Ramakrishna, Shireen Moosvi, Ramkrishna Chatterjee, B P Sahu, Aditya Mukherjee, K M Shrimali, Suraj Bhan, Irfan Habib, Arjun Dev, Iqtidar Alam Khan, Biswamoy Pati, S C Mishra, Suvira Jaiswal, R Gopinath, R P Bahuguna, R C Thakran, G P Sharma, Amar Farooqui, R P Rana, HC Satyarthi, Ishrat Alam, Nalini Taneja, Najaf Haider, Sohail Hashmi, Malini Bhattacharya, Javed Alam, Prabhat Patnaik, C P Chandrasekhar, Utsa Patnaik, Jayati Ghosh, Ram Rahman, M K Raina, Madangopal Singh, Madhu Prasad, Shakti Kak, Mihir Bhattacharya, Suranjan Das, Lata Singh, A Murli and Archana Prasad.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Teachers' Front (DTF) in a statement strongly condemned the physical attack on the department of History, University of Delhi by the ABVP. "This front organisation of the Sangh giroh physically assaulted the head of the department of History and other teachers, threw stones into classrooms injuring students and went on a rampage breaking doors, windows and furniture all over in the faculty of social sciences. This shameful planned attack brings into sharp focus the threat the Sangh giroh poses to the social fabric and to free intellectual pursuit. Devoid of any intellectual faculty or of tolerance towards academic debate, these bigots resort to cheap slander, distortions and exploit religious sentiments. Everything for them becomes a matter of faith and everyone must be told in no uncertain terms what faith one has to harbour.
"It is also a matter of shame that a handful of hoodlums accompanied by the police through the assault and the rampage were escorted out by the police after a while without being arrested. Such a failure of the police only emboldens and encourages vandalism. It is shocking that a police officer reasoned later that had they tried to arrest them, there would have been more destruction of property. We warn the police against kid-gloving hoodlums in this manner and demand that the police should be taken to task, if with all the finger print lifting and photographing they did later, these hoodlums who were accompanied and photographed by the electronic media are not behind the bar by February 25, 2008. The university administration also failed to provide security to the department, knowing full well that the department of History is the target of the Hindutva fundamentalists.
"The DTF salutes the students and teachers who gathered immediately and rebuffed any possibility of another round of physical attack by the ABVP hoodlums. Those who had gathered in protest have called for a protest march to the VC office from Vivekanand statue, faculty of arts on February 26, 2008. The DTF calls upon all teachers, students and karamcharis to participate in the march in defence of academic freedom and against such communal terrorism."