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Masked men attack major Indian university shouting nationalist phases

Masked men attack major Indian university shouting nationalist phases
© Getty Images

Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, one of India’s most prestigious schools, came under siege Sunday by dozens of masked men shouting nationalist slogans.

At least 42 people were injured in the attack, according to The New York Times.

Witnesses said the men attacked the campus between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. with cries of “Hail Lord Ram,” which has become a popular slogan among Hindu nationalists on the far right. Other witnesses claimed the assailants were members of Hindu nationalist student group Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, which has denied involvement, according to the Times.

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Aishe Ghosh, president of the university’s student union, recorded a video of herself during the attack shortly after, saying she had been assaulted.

She said into the camera that she was “brutally attacked,” adding, “I am not even in a condition to talk.”

Students speculated the attack was connected both to recent protests against fee increases and broader opposition among the student body to recent policies implemented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, including a citizenship law that favors Hindus and other non-Muslim religious groups over Muslim migrants.

Modi’s government has also taken other steps that have alarmed the country’s Muslim minority, including removing references to Muslim statespeople from textbooks and replacing Muslim place names with Hindu ones.

Amid protests over the law, its supporters launched similar attacks at other universities associated with leftist activism, including police firing into crowds and using tear gas last month at New Delhi’s Jamia Milla Islamia, according to the Times.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party called the weekend attack a “desperate attempt by forces of anarchy who are determined to use students as cannon fodder,” while Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar tweeted that he “condemn[ed] the violence unequivocally.”

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Although the university said in a statement that police had been called to restore order, several students said police allowed the violence to escalate, and video of the scenes shows members of the mob beating people as police watch.