Assault on Muslim Student Raises Concerns Regarding Safety and Integrity at Savitribai Phule University

An FIR has been filed against the attackers at Chaturshringi police station in Pune.
Gate of Savitribai Phule Pune University
Gate of Savitribai Phule Pune University

New Delhi- On April 7th, a distressing incident unfolded at Savitribai Phule Pune University involving Junaid Jamadar, a first-year student. As he and his friends made their way back to the hostel after a casual lunch at the university mess, they were confronted by four individuals on motorcycles.

These men, whose identities remain unknown, demanded to see their identity cards, a seemingly routine request in a campus environment. However, what followed was anything but routine.

The unidentified men demanded to see their identity cards, which the group provided, including two men and two women. The men then singled out Junaid and questioned his presence with Hindu girls, accusing him of "love jihad" upon learning he was Muslim.

They proceeded to physically assault Junaid, hurling religious insults and confiscating his phone to contact his father, threatening his life.

Junaid's father and sister rushed to Pune, where they filed a police report at Chaturshringi police station. The assailants also intimidated Junaid's female friends, warning them against associating with Muslim boys.

Despite the attack, Junaid's peers were too afraid to intervene. The perpetrators, allegedly members of the Vishva Hindu Parishad, further demeaned Junaid with derogatory language and coerced his father into withdrawing him from the university, under threat of violence.

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The Mooknayak spoke to a few students from the university to understand the atmosphere on campus. The students revealed that this was not an isolated attack and that such violence has been occurring in the campus for a few years now.

“The atmosphere has deteriorated on the campus,” claimed Abhishek, a student at the university. “The Vice-Chancellor does not take any strict action because everyone knows these attacks are perpetrated by right-wing goons who enjoy impunity from the state.”

According to him, almost every student is scared on campus. He alleged that last year, when the Student Federation of India (SFI) was getting its registration done, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student body wing of BJP, came and destroyed their stall. Many students, including girls from the SC/ST community, were also attacked.

Abhishek additionally mentioned that the Lalit Kala Kendra, the campus auditorium where stage plays are held, was targeted during an incident when students intended to stage a play that contradicted the beliefs of a right-wing group.

Akash, another student, added that the fear among students is not only due to the attacks but also because of the lack of safety measures by the administration.

“I am now scared to go out on campus. If a Hindu male person is scared, one can only assume what it is like for women and students from other minority religions,” he added.

He commented that even parents do not feel safe knowing their children are studying at this particular campus.

When asked if it was possible to speak to the student who faced the violent attacks, Akash said that the student is traumatized and not in the headspace to talk to anyone right now.

We attempted to contact the Chaturshringi police station, where the student's family had filed an FIR, but were informed that no updates would be provided unless we visited the police station in person.

The authorities further directed us to contact the relatives of the victim for information instead of the police station.

The Mooknayak also reached out to the Vice-Chancellor and Registrar's office, who declined to comment at the moment. They further instructed us to contact the Board of Student Development, but our attempts to reach them were unsuccessful.

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