A CPI-M leader on Saturday said that the clashes between activists of the party's student wing SFI and RSS-affiliated ABVP in the Savitribai Phule Pune University campus were not related to the ongoing controversy in Delhi's Ramjas College.
"This was an unrelated issue pertaining to the threats issued last week by Education Minister Vinod Tawde on plans to shut down the Solapur Government Polytechnic by upgrading it to an engineering college," Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) state committee member Shubha Shamim told IANS.
She said the activists of Students Federation of India (SFI)were putting up posters condemning Tawde's threats to lodge police complaints against two students after he received mass SMSs protesting the move.
"The ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad) activists objected to these posters flaying Tawde and attacked the SFI activists on the university campus. All left organizations including SFI, DYFI and others will protest against the ABVP's brutality all over Maharashtra on Monday," Shamim said.
The issue started when ABVP led a protest on Friday morning condemning Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Umar Khalid, who was arrested and slapped with sedition charges last year. Ramjas College in Delhi is currently gripped in a tiff between ABVP and the leftist student body AISA which had invited Khalid for a lecture event.
In the evening, the SFI's Pune unit put up retaliatory anti-Tawde posters which culminated in the clashes, leading to a tense atmosphere and a strong police presence on the varsity campus.
Later on Friday, SFI and ABVP activists clashed in the university campus and later police arrested nine activists, four from SFI and five from ABVP.
Both groups have lodged counter-complaints against each other with the Chatushringi Police Station. Some of the arrested activists secured bail on Saturday.
In a statement on Saturday, CPI-M-affiliated Democratic Youth Federation of Indias' (DYFI) Maharashtra unit said: "We strongly condemn the brutal attack on SFI students in the Pune University by ABVP goons. DYFI and SFI state committee calls for joint protest action across Maharashtra condemning the attacks on Monday (February 27)."
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