Actor Deepika Padukone visited Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on Tuesday, two days after a masked mob attacked students and teachers on the campus, leaving over 30 injured and provoking nationwide outrage.
Though Ms Padukone did not speak at the university, she was seen standing with a group of students who were attacked including president of the students’ union Aishe Ghosh. Former student leader Kanhaiya Kumar was also present.
Padukone reached the university campus at around 7.40 pm and attended a public meeting, called by the JNU Teacher’s Association and JNU Students’ Union in response to Sunday’s attack on students and teachers by a masked mob armed with sticks and rods.
Padukone remained standing as former JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar raised slogans; she then left by the time current president Aishe Ghosh started to speak.
Sources close to Ms Padukone said she had gone to express solidarity with the students. However, JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh was critical of the actor for not speaking at the meet. “When you are in a position you should speak up,” JNUSU President Aishe Ghosh said after the actor left without addressing the meet.
Deepika was spotted standing with students at the Sabarmati T-point, where a public meeting had been called by JNU alumni over Sunday’s violence. She also met Ghosh who received injuries. Padukone didn’t address the meeting and left after an hour.
Amid drones flying over the meeting to keep an eye on students, Aishe targeted the JNU administration for filing complaints against her. “There are 3 FIRs against me, but I am not scared of the V-C. Even if you file 70 FIRs for all the 70 days of struggle against fee hike, we will continue our struggle”
The meeting was also attended by former JNU students, including Sitaram Yechury, Yogendra Yadav, D. Raja and Kanhaiya Kumar.
Kumar, who was targeted for allegedly raising anti-national slogans in JNU few years ago, said, “I am called the leader of tukde-tukde gang. I take it as an honour.”
“Hatred for the JNU is not hatred for a university or ideology, but the thought as how a country should be,” Kanhaiya. “The government is making a mistake. They have chosen an enemy that is intelligent and studies,” he remarked.
The 34-year-old actor is in the capital to promote her upcoming release, Meghna Gulzar-directed ‘Chhapaak’. Padukone said she feels proud that people have come out and raised their voice without fear, in reference to the protests against the amended Citizenship Act, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and violence in JNU.
“I feel proud to see that we aren’t scared to express ourselves… I think the fact that we are thinking about the country and its future…. Whatever may be our point of view, it’s nice to see,” she had said.
“I feel proud about it that people are coming out — be it on the streets or wherever they are — they are raising their voice and expressing themselves as it is important. If we want to see change in life and society, it is important that a point of view be put forward,” she added.
The Padmaavat star’s solidarity and visit in support of the JNU students in Delhi instantly triggered calls by the ruling BJP to boycott her movies.