NEW DELHI: Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) rebels who left the RSS' student outfit citing differences over its handling of the JNU row, today burnt a copy of the ancient legal text Manusmriti despite the varsity administration denying permission for the same.
Weeks after the controversial event against Afzal Guru's hanging was held on campus, five ABVP rebels joined by left-backed All India Students Association (AISA) and Congress-affiliated National Students Union of India (NSUI) burnt the text at Sabarmati Dhaba, which was also the venue of the earlier event.
While three of the organisers were former ABVP office-bearers, two of them are still with the party but differ with their stand on Manusmriti.
The university authorities, maintained that they had denied permission for the event and the security was briefed about the same.
"We had denied the permission for the event but in response the students submitted in writing that they will still go ahead with the event. We have got the programme videographed," a varsity official said.
Asked about whether the varsity will consider it as an "offence" on part of student's, the official said, "we will see tomorrow".
Giving clear indications of rift within ABVP, Jatin Goraih Vice President of outfit's ABVP unit said, "we had suggested during our party meeting to have a Manusmriti burning event to answer all the left parties' allegations about ABVP being insensitive to the interest of dalits. But there were disagreements and the party ignored us".
"But my conscience said I should. This is not a political cause, but a social one on the occasion of women's day as the book has highly derogatory content about women. Since I decided to go ahead with it, the party is free to take its call whether they will expel me or not. I will not resign," he added.
Pradeep Narwal, who was ABVP's joint secretary at the university, resigned along with Rahul Yadav and Ankit Hans, president and secretary, respectively, of the ABVP unit in the School of Social Sciences at JNU, citing differences on the two-millennia-old book and the "oppression unleashed by the government" on JNU protesters, sharpening the divide since Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula's suicide.
Narwal today narrated the "derogatory" text from the book before burning and said he was warned by teachers not to do so but he is not scared of being slapped with sedition.
"We were not allowed to conduct the event. My question to the Vice Chancellor is whether he subscribes to the thoughts propagated in Manusmriti. A teacher today told me that I should not do so as I will be charged with sedition. I am not scared of it," he said while addressing the students.
"Asking for 'azaadi' from the government is not anti-national or seditious," he said, as he shouted slogans of 'brahamanwad murdabad'.
While students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar and General Secretary Rama Naga, who have been charged with sedition in connection with the February 9 event, gave today's programme a miss, former JNUSU VP Anant Prakash was present.
Responding to the rift in the Sangh student body, JNUSU Joint Secretary Saurabh Kumar Sharma, who is the lone ABVP member in the union said, "it is there wish, if they want to burn they can burn. We are against anti-India activities and they are trying to divert the attention from February 9 event."
"Manusmriti has been rejected by Hindus long ago and it's a mere book now. If they want to burn a book let them. Its the left who don't want us to not believe in Manusmriti," he said.
ABVP later issued a statement saying it believes in democratic and equal rights for all the sections of society.
"ABVP strongly supports individual rights and freedom of expression where it gives full freedom to any of its members to condemn and criticise anything to any extent unless it does not hamper the unity and integrity of India," it said.
"The excerpts burnt by one of our activists were anti-women and anti-SC-ST and OBC. These excerpts are totally irrelevant and had received stark criticism even from Kautilya. The person who burnt these excerpts is a member of ABVP and we will continue working for the cause of nation building together in future," it added.