Members of Left student unions alleged that the ABVP attacked the election office
The counting of votes for the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) polls resumed on Saturday evening after being suspended for nearly 12 hours. The counting had been suspended early morning after an alleged attack on the counting centre by members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad or ABVP who rejected the charge and claimed that the exercise was started without informing them.
In a statement, the JNU Election Committee had said it suspended the counting temporarily but did not name the party which attacked the counting centre. It strongly denied that made the necessary announcements before starting the counting.
“The counting process, which began at 10 pm on September 14, has been suspended due to the forced entry into the counting venue, and attempts to snatch sealed ballot boxes and papers,” a statement from the JNU Election Committee read.
In a separate statement, a group of JNU’s Left-wing student organisations said, “Around 4:00 am, ABVP (members) broke the glasses of the School of International Studies building. Election Committee stopped the counting indefinitely.” The Left bloc alleged that the protesters also intimidated Left party members.
Shehla Rashid, former union vice president, expressed outrage over the incident. “Shocked! Never seen something like this in JNU. ABVP goons broke glass doors and forcibly tried to enter the #JNUSU_Election2018 counting venue last night. They attacked the members of Election Committee and tried to snatch ballot boxes. Counting suspended,” she tweeted.
The right-wing ABVP, linked to the ruling BJP, denied the Left bloc’s claim. Vijay Kumar, ABVP president of JNU, said the counting process was initiated only in front of rival party members without informing their polling agent. “We protested peacefully as the EC (Election Committee) is biased towards the Left. We did not create any ruckus,” he said.
Mr Kumar said his organisation could move the Delhi High Court for justice.
A joint statement from the All JNU Organisations supported the Left bloc’s version, and even accused the ABVP of attacking poll panel members. “Late night on Friday, the EC made announcements calling for candidates to send their counting agents for central panel votes from the combined schools (science schools and smaller schools). ABVP did not send counting agents even after the last call was made. Long after the sealed ballot boxes were opened and counting began, ABVP resorted to violence demanding that its agents be allowed in,” it said.
The voter turnout in the election was 67.8 per cent, believed to be the highest in six years. Over 5,000 students cast their votes.
(With inputs from PTI)