NIA raids a ‘scare tactic’, says BHU group, Bhagat Singh Students’ Morcha

BSM’s office in Varanasi was raided and its members questioned for alleged links to Naxals. A group of BHU students, it says it is independent.

NIA raids a ‘scare tactic’, says BHU group, Bhagat Singh Students’ Morcha NIA raided the offices of the Banaras Hindu University on Tuesday alleging Maoist links (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
Atul Krishna | Sep 7, 2023 - 4:05 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: The Bhagat Singh Students’ Morcha (BSM), the students organisation of Banaras Hindu University who were raided by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday, alleged that raids were a “scare tactic” before the upcoming Indian general elections in 2024.

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Early Tuesday morning, NIA raided the BSM office in Varanasi alleging that the members, who are all Banaras Hindu University (BHU) students, were associated with the Communist Party of India (Maoist), a banned political organisation.

“We have an office in Banaras where three people live. All women. President Akanksha, secretary Ipshita and joint secretary Sidhi. Some of our books and magazines are also there. NIA raided the place around 5 am on Tuesday. They immediately started asking questions without explaining who they were and said that our organisation was linked with banned parties such as the Communist Party of India (Maoist),” said Adarsh Kumar, BA history student at BHU and vice president of BSM.

BSM also publishes a bi-monthly magazine called Dastak which is publicly available.

NIA Raid: Questioned for 8 hours

“They started checking the books, magazines, phones and even started reading WhatsApp messages. They were questioned for around eight hours. Ipshita was not there as she had gone home and so, Akansha and Sidhi were questioned. On hearing about this, some of us went to the office but they snatched our phones and started checking the messages too,” said Kumar.

The NIA also confiscated two laptops and Akansha Azad’s mobile phone. Azad, who is the president of BSM, has been called in for further questioning on September 12 at NIA Lucknow office. Azad is an MPhil scholar at BHU.

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Kumar also alleged that he got slapped by the NIA official during questioning.

“My phone was with the NIA official and a friend called at that time. He picked up the phone and put it on speaker mode. I told my friend that the phone is not with me and that the NIA official had taken hold of the phone, then he suddenly slapped me and said, “Do only as I say…or I’ll finish your career in two minutes”. They let us go after 40 minutes of questioning,” said Kumar.

BSM was formed in 2010-11. Members of the morcha said that they were not affiliated to any political party and is focussed on raising women’s and students’ issues and student issues on campus.

The members also said that the raids are the BJP government’s way of instilling fear in those who speak against them.

“The main reason for the raid is the upcoming Indian general elections of 2024. The government wants to prevent anyone from speaking against them. NIA raiding a students union is a big deal. It means everyone in India will be scared. The opposition will think that if a students union is getting raided, then if they say something against the government, they will be in deeper trouble. So the people who speak out will keep silent. The government is misusing these agencies.”

Student unions such as the All India Students' Association (AISA) condemned the raids.

“It is clear that as the Lok Sabha election draws closer, the fear of losing is increasingly creeping into the minds of BJP members. The Modi government knows that it has failed on every front, from employment and education to healthcare and inflation. It is in this light, that such repressive state actions are being carried out against democratic voices of society across the country,” said AISA in a statement. “The misuse and abuse of central institutions by the Modi government has become a dangerous trend as the repressions have increased over the time.”

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