Women In Bengaluru Allege BJP Workers Forcing Them To Sign Pro-CAA Petitions
After the faceoff on 8th January between students of Jyoti Nivas College (JNC) and handful BJP workers, The Logical Indian was able to confirm that political workers heckled women in Bengaluru’s Koramangala area for signing pro-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) petitions, a day before.
Jyoti Nivas College (Autonomous) is a women’s educational institution and one of the city’s oldest. It offers pre-university education along with undergraduate and graduate studies, thus the age of its students ranges from 16 years to 21 years.
On Wednesday, around 3:30 p.m. when some courses had finished classes for the day, students exiting campus found a few Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers standing in front of a pro-CAA poster that was suspended from their college wall.
The poster, a flex banner, had the pictures of Prime Minister Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa and Lok Sabha MP Tejasvi Surya.
The young women who tried to get the politically motivated poster off their college’s property were shouted at with statements such as, “Go back to Pakistan”, “You are not Indian”, and “You only concerned about yourself”.
Video – Men chanting, ‘Go back to Pakistan’ (Outside the JNC campus).
“Today, at Jyoti Nivas College Autonomous, Bengaluru a group of BJP goons put up a huge banner saying India Supports CAA. They were asking students and passerby’s to sign the banner.” 1/4 pic.twitter.com/ER9JGtlPVm
— Our Young Voices (@OurYoungVoices1) January 8, 2020
In a series of videos that went viral overnight, the BJP workers can be seen badgering the college-goers. When the college students demanded the removal of the poster from their wall, a BJP worker shouted, “You are a student of this college, not its owner. Let the ‘owner’ come and talk to us.”
When The Logical Indian spoke to a few faculty members, they informed that their students and regular passersby were being coerced into signing a large banner in support of the new legislation that grants citizenship on religious lines.
“The workers were selectively approaching young women because they are considered ‘soft targets’. Our students, especially those donning a hijab or an abaya, were being pushed to sign papers and posters in support of CAA”, a faculty member said.
In the widely shared videos, the men can be heard making the following statements:
“Do you have any valid reason to fight this? You want an argument or a debate?”
“Forget about the college’s property, what is your problem?”
“Who are you to give us a lecture, you are a student, go and ask your Principal.”
After a minute-long confrontation, a JNC student called the poster ‘stupid’ to which a man – who had been placidly responding throughout the heated conversation, called her “uncivilised” in high temper as she was using “unparliamentary” language.
“Most of our girls (students) are very young and unaware of the political activity ongoing in India. When they were being forced to put their names in support of the Act, they were uninformed and hence wary of using their signature. Being ‘apolitical’ these situations can have bearings of such nature”, a staffer said.
The college addressed its students this morning and asserted that as an educational institution their stand will remain ‘apolitical’ but the college authorities fully recognise the right of the students to opine.
“We had a silent gathering within the college campus condemning the use of JNC property for furthering a party’s political agenda”, a student said on the condition of anonymity.
“They (college authorities) also assured us (students) that our safety is their main priority”, she added.
In some of the social media stories being shared by the students, the BJP workers have been accused of threatening a college administrator of ‘JNU-like consequences’.
Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on the 5th of January was attacked by masked goons who assaulted professors, students, and damaged properties on the campus. Thirty-four students, with head injuries, were admitted to the AIIMS Trauma Centre.
JNU’s student union has claimed that the violence was perpetrated by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), a right-wing student body linked to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) which is the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP), ideological parent.
The Jyoti Nivas College students also alleged that the cops who intervened later were spotted sipping tea with the same men (BJP workers) after they dispersed the gathered crowd of students.
The Logical Indian was not able to verify the students’ claims with the college administration and this story will be updated as soon as a response is received.
Short Follow-Up Protest
A few Twitter users posted about a follow-up protest against last evening’s incident.
After last evening’s incident in which students of Jyoti Nivas College students were threatned by pro CAA campaigners to sign a banner which the students refused, they took to the streets today for a silent protest.@XpressBengaluru @NewIndianXpress @santwana99 #CAAProtests pic.twitter.com/0rvOQoMiF5
— Meghana Sastry (@MeghanaSastry) January 9, 2020
The protest outside of the JNC campus supposedly lasted for a very short period of time, as the students were brought back inside.
Pics from outside #JNC where students gathered to protest. A group of men tried to enter but were stopped by police. Protest lasted 2 mins before students were taken inside. “We asked them why they had put up pro-CAA poster but they tried to force us to sign it,” a student says. pic.twitter.com/NbTTkG0ona
— Prajwal (@prajwalmanipal) January 9, 2020
Professionals In Koramangala Also Heckled
Ramya, a software engineer, working with American Express said that a few right-wing activists – all men – were doing rounds around her office, just a day before the JNC incident, coercing pedestrians to sign a letter and a poster separately that advocated for CAA.
“I usually step out for a break with my colleagues around 6 p.m. every evening. On 7th January, following our routine, we left the office for having a cup of tea, when a gang of large and unruly men accosted us”, she recounted.
“They asked us to spare ‘five minutes’ without telling us what they needed our time for. No explanation was given but it was demanded of us to come and support them”, she added.
The men apparently surrounded Ramya and her group of five and did not let them move further without signing the papers they were carrying.
“I didn’t even know what they were demanding my signature for. When I tried enquiring, the men were offended and began shouting at me for not giving them ‘five minutes’ of my time.”
As per her observation, female pedestrians were singled out and impeded.
“They were stopping anyone walking by. Mall goers (Oasis Mall), office goers, students, whoever came their way. What I saw was that they were obstructing women more than men.”
Her group was not let off until they acquiesced and gave in. “We signed the poster that had already 50 signatures. I reckon most of the signatories were troubled and forced like us”, she alleged.