Dozen hurt in fresh Indian student clashes

Protesters march as they take part in a demonstration against India's new citizenship law in Guwahati on Jan 5, 2020.
Protesters march as they take part in a demonstration against India's new citizenship law in Guwahati on Jan 5, 2020.PHOTO: BIJU BORO/AFP

AHMEDABAD, INDIA (AFP) - At least a dozen people were injured on Tuesday (Jan 7) in fresh clashes between student groups loyal to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and opponents with the main opposition Congress party, police said.

Student politics has turned ugly in recent weeks over several issues, including a new citizenship law, heavy-handed police tactics and hikes in university fees.

The latest confrontation, in Mr Modi's home state, came two days after attackers rampaged through a Delhi university, leaving 34 injured and sparking nationwide protests.

Critics and media reports blamed the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), a student body linked to Mr Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, for the violence on Sunday evening at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

Police reportedly stood by and did nothing to stop the attack, while videos purportedly from the scene showed masked men swinging batons as students screamed in terror.

Police in Gujarat state in western India said fresh violence broke out on Tuesday when members of the the Congress-affiliated National Students' Union of India (NSUI) held a protest outside the ABVP's offices.

"Some 10 to 12 people have been injured in the clash," Ahmedabad police deputy commissioner K.N. Damor told journalists.

One unverified but widely shared video showed members of the ABVP chasing and hitting an NSUI activist with sticks.

The ABVP accused the NSUI of instigating the clashes.

Beyond univerities, almost a month of violent protests across the country against the new citizenship law has left more than 25 people dead.

The law speeds up citizenship claims from persecuted minorities from Islamic-majority Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, but not if they are Muslim.

 
 

Combined with a mooted citizens register, it has stoked fears that Mr Modi wants to remould India as a Hindu nation and marginalise its 200 million Muslims, something he denies.

Delhi police fought street battles with JNU students in November after protests broke out over fee increases at the top university.

Student organisations dominated by left-wingers have since staged demonstrations demanding a rollback of the fee increase, while facing accusations of obstructing administration officials.