New Delhi: Social media was flooded Tuesday evening with photos of actor Deepika Padukone standing in the crowd gathered for a protest meet at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi. Padukone was spotted standing behind Aishe Ghosh, the student body president, who was injured in Sunday’s masked mob attack.
The central university has been in the news since Sunday after an unprecedented attack by vandals. Students and teachers have alleged these armed attackers belonged to the Right-wing ABVP, while it has alleged that the Left student organisations were behind it.
Padukone eventually left without addressing the crowd, and her decision prompted Ghosh to comment, “when you are in a position, you should speak up”, according to news agency PTI.
On Monday, the 34-year-old actor told a news channel that 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 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 told NDTV India.
“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 actor is in the capital to promote her upcoming film Chhapaak, directed by Meghna Gulzar, which releases this Friday.
As news of Padukone’s visit spread, people on Twitter began splitting into two camps, with some commending her and others criticising her. The hashtag #BoycottChhapaak also gained traction.
1. Deepika Padukone's presence matters as middle class culture is sadly celebrity driven.
2. She may be being neither brave nor opportunistic, merely another conscientious citizen doing her duty.
3. These youth are not star struck & couldn't care less, that is a welcome change. https://t.co/o3B9rs1My3
— Kanika Gahlaut (@kanikagahlaut) January 7, 2020
Was my favourite heroine but one who stands with arsonists just for promotion can’t be my favourite @deepikapadukone
— Ayush Jain (@ayushjain_11) January 7, 2020
— Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga (@TajinderBagga) January 7, 2020
— sarbajeet jena (@mosttrusted_ind) January 7, 2020
As many as 34 people were injured, with several, including Ghosh, sustaining head injuries and fractures. Ghosh alleged she was specifically targeted, and that the campus security was in a nexus with the masked attackers. The police, who were outside the campus at the time of the attack, came under criticism for entering JNU only much later.
According to officials who spoke to ThePrint, the police were waiting for clearance from the JNU administration to enter the campus, citing the Jamia Millia Islamia controversy a few weeks before.
In a report to the Ministry of Human Resource Development, JNU administration said Sunday’s violence was the result of a scuffle between two groups of students during a meeting organised by the JNU Teachers’ Association — a claim denied by both teachers and students.
Earlier Tuesday, a fringe right-wing group, the Hindu Raksha Dal, took responsibility for the attack in a video posted on social media.
(With inputs from PTI)